“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
  • Captives
  • Debtors
  • A mediator or someone who pays from personal monies to fix or mediate problems among the people
  • In the cause of Allah (swt)
  • Travelers

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.

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 March 9, 2017, nisab is estimated to be $3,604.17. 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.