Zakat, or almsgiving, is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with prayer, fasting, pilgrimage (Hajj), and belief in Allah (SWT) and His Messenger Prophet Muhammad (SAW). For every sane, adult Muslim who owns wealth over a certain amount–known as the nisab–he or she must pay 2.5% of that wealth as Zakat.
In the Holy Qur’an (2:110), we read, “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.”
Zakat is a promise that we must fulfill to help those in need. When you give your Zakat through Islamic Relief USA, it’s powerful, impactful, and its potential grows by multiples. Your Zakat can help provide:
Zakat is the most-supported fund by Islamic Relief USA donors, alhamdulilah, and that speaks volumes for the power of this kind of charity.
Islamic Relief collects and distributes Zakat to those who are most in need, in accordance with Islamic guidelines. According to the Holy Qur’an (9:60), there are eight categories of people who qualify to be recipients of Zakat:
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.
While many prefer to give Zakat al-Mal during Ramadan, the option to give is always open. However, when it comes to Zakat al-Fitr, it should be given before Eid prayer.
With our commitment to collecting and distributing Zakat honestly and ethically, in accordance with Sharia, IRUSA has enlisted the expertise of some of the leading and most-respected Muslim scholars in the US to form an independent Zakat Advisory Board to review, develop, and uphold Islamic Relief’s Zakat Policy.
We believe this is paramount to fulfilling our organizational values, such as Ihsan (excellence) and Amana (custodianship).
In 2023, the board ratified IRUSA’s Zakat Policy, and will continue to provide independent reviews, oversight, feedback, and verification of the distribution of Zakat by Islamic Relief USA. The Zakat Advisory Board scholars, however, are not responsible for the implementation of the IRUSA Zakat Policy — that is the sole responsibility of Islamic Relief USA.
Islamic Relief USA consults with a Zakat Advisory Board for information about religious donations. It is advised that you consult with your local imam or scholar for more detailed inquiries.
You can use our Zakat calculator to calculate how much you need to give.
Here’s some FAQs that may help you calculate your Zakat:
In Arabic, Zakat means purification, growth and blessing. It is a charitable practice that requires all able Muslims (those who meet the requirement of Zakat as dependent upon nisab and hawl—see below) to contribute a fixed portion of their wealth – 2.5% of savings — to help the needy.
Nisab is the minimum amount of wealth a Muslim must have—after calculating necessary expenses—to be eligible to contribute zakat. Nisab is equivalent to the current value of 3 ounces of gold (or 85 grams of 24k gold). The nisab we’ve calculated for our zakat calculator is based on the most-recent report available to us (disclaimer: this number may change daily depending on fluctuations in the gold exchange rate).
Hawl is defined as the completion period for a zakat asset, which is one lunar year. In other words, the wealth on which zakat should be paid must have been held for at least one full year. There are some forms of zakat that do not require hawl, such as for crops, when zakat should be paid at the time of the harvest. For clarification, it is recommended that you consult with your local imam or scholar.
Yes, but refer to your local imam or preferred scholar for more details.
Every adult Muslim who meets the requirements of nisab and hawl in a calendar year must pay Zakat for that year. There are some conditions that may require others, a wali (guardian) of a minor for instance, to pay Zakat too. As always, it is best to consult with your local imam or scholar for clarification.
Yes. In Islam, intention is an essential part of any act of worship, including the payment of Zakat. The intention must be made at the time the Zakat is paid.
For a detailed list of wealth to include, please see IRUSA’s Zakat calculator.
These stipulations delineate the type of wealth that should be accounted for when calculating zakat:
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 an administrator of Zakat, IRUSA is eligible to receive a portion of your Zakat donation in order to serve those in need.
So, here is how donations made to Zakat-specific funds break down:
Does this mean that 100% of your zakat donation gets used in zakat-eligible ways? YES!
To learn more about this, read IRUSA’s Zakat Policy.
One does not have to pay Zakat on a primary place of residence. If the house qualifies as a secondary residence that sometimes get rented out, however, Zakat is due on it after subtracting necessary expenses from the income generated.
Yes, on jewelry you do not regularly wear and that you own for investment purposes.
Yes. You may use the current value on stocks.
In the language of the Holy Qur’an, Zakat and sadaqah are the same. In practice, however, sadaqah is the term used to indicate voluntary charitable giving while Zakat is obligatory.
Zakat al-Mal (commonly called “Zakat“) is due when a person’s wealth reaches the nisab amount and can be paid anytime during the year. Zakat al-Fitr is paid by the head of the household for each member of the family, before Eid al-Fitr prayer.
An agent is someone who facilitates the payment of your Zakat al-Fitr because they are better placed to distribute the food on your behalf. You can pay the agent (in this case, Islamic Relief) in money because the agent uses that money to buy the food which is then given to appropriate beneficiaries. So, in reality, it is as if you are paying in food rather than in money.
Zakat al-Fitr should be paid on behalf of everyone in the family. There are some scholars that recommend that Zakat al-Fitr is also paid on behalf of unborn children after the 120th day of pregnancy, but do not view it as obligatory. Most scholars do agree, however, that Zakat al-Fitr should be paid on behalf of the baby after his/her birth. Please do consult with your local imam or scholar for further clarification.
It should be paid before Eid prayer (or any day during Ramadan). There are some schools of thought that also allow for Zakat al-Fitr to be paid even before Ramadan. Consult with your local imam or scholar if you need additional information.