“And establish prayer and give zakat, and whatever good you put forward for yourselves – you will find it with Allah; surely Allah sees what you do.” —The Holy Qur’an, 2:110
What is zakat?
Offering zakat is a religious obligation for Muslims, and is the third of the five pillars of Islam (right after prayer). In Arabic, zakat means purification, growth and blessing. Paying zakat is meant to remind Muslims to be appreciative of the blessings that Allah (Subhana Wa Ta’ala) has bestowed upon them, and to help empower those who have less. There are two primary forms of zakat: zakat al-mal and zakat al-fitr.
Who is eligible for zakat?
Islamic Relief collects and distributes zakat to those who are most in need, in accordance with Islamic guidelines. Giving your zakat through IRUSA means you can help provide emergency food, shelter for refugees, job training, medication and so much more.
According to the Holy Qur’an (9:60), there are eight categories of people who qualify to be beneficiaries of zakat:
- The poor
- The needy
- The collectors of zakat (Islamic Relief USA is an example)
- Those who hearts are to be won over
- A mediator or someone who pays from personal monies to fix or mediate problems among the people
- In the cause of Allah (swt)
Most scholars agree that the poor and needy are the most important categories of people to receive zakat. Given that, it is acceptable to give your entire zakat allotment to individuals who are in those groups.
IRUSA follows the practice agreed upon by most scholars, which states that collectors of zakat are one of the eight groups that are eligible to receive zakat. As such, IRUSA is eligible to use up to 12.5% of donations made to zakat-specific funds for core work, including administrative and operational functions.
Islamic Relief USA consults with a council of imams who follow the Fiqh Council of North America for information about religious donations. It is advised that you consult with your local imam or scholar for more detailed inquiries.
Zakat on gold
Zakat is payable at 2.5% of the wealth one possesses above the nisab. Nisab, which is equal to 3 ounces of gold, is the minimum amount of wealth one must have before they are liable to pay zakat. *As of April 20, 2018, nisab is estimated to be $1341.10. Zakat is liable on gold, silver, cash, savings, investments, rent income, business merchandise and profits, shares, securities and bonds. Zakat is not paid on wealth used for debt repayment of living expenses such as clothing, food, housing, transportation, education, etc.
Zakat Hour of Power with Imam Zia and Imam Khalid Latif
Using credit card to pay for zakat
Please consider adding 2% when using Visa and Mastercard to your total zakat donation—this will compensate for any transaction fees deducted from your donation by the credit card companies, and will ensure that your intended zakat amount is paid in full.
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During Ramadan, many Islamic Relief USA donors give zakat to support work for people who qualify under Islamic principles: the poor, the needy, and travelers—in this case, refugees and other displaced families.
In the United States, zakat funds are distributed through partner masajid and organizations nationwide. These partners know the local residents and can confirm their eligibility.
In other countries around the world, zakat funds support projects benefiting families and communities in many ways, from food and water to health care, education, and building secure livelihoods.