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Zakah And Baitulmal

 Definition & Meaning of Zakah:

Zakah literally means "to increase." "to purify," and "to bless." The paying of Zakah multiplies the wealth of the Believer and enhances the purchasing power of the recipient, resulting in accelerated economic growth. It purifies the Zakah payers from the evils like misery, greed, hatred, etc. And more than that, the Zakah payer attains the pleasure of Allah (ST).


Who is obliged to pay Zakah?:

There are eight conditions, which make Zakah obligatory for a person. They are: (the possessor of wealth must be) a free man, a Muslim of sound mind, an adult, in complete ownership of his or her wealth, in possession of such wealth which is over and above the requirements to satisfy the essential needs of the possessor and of those legitimately dependent upon him or her i.e. wife, sons, daughters, father, mother, etc. free from debt and in possession of a defined quantity of wealth for one complete hijra year. A few important points to be noted with regard to obligation of Zakah are as below :-


1.       The possession of minimum 85 grams gold or it’s equivalent in cash for one lunar year makes one liable to pay Zakah at the rate of 2.5%.


2.       The possession of minimum 595 grams silver or its equivalent in cash for one lunar year makes one liable to pay Zakah at the rate of 2.5%.


3.       Gold and silver in any shape or form, jewellery, precious stones, utensils etc. all are considered as wealth and Zakah becomes payable on them if the weight reaches the minimum limit and their possession completes 12 lunar months.


4.       If a person has rented buildings to others, then he will have to pay Zakah on the net income from the rent, provided the income is above the minimum limit and remains in his possession for one lunar year.


5.       The value of any vehicle such as motor cars, vans, trucks, carts, wagons, boats etc. used in the course of the trade, to earn a living is exempt from the obligations of Zakah. But the net income earned from their use, which remains with the owner for one lunar year, will be subject to the payment of Zakah.


"The holdings subject to Zakah are of two kinds. The first kind grows by itself: crops and fruits. The second kind is used for growing and production: money, merchandise, and cattle. In the former case, Zakah should be paid at the time of harvest. In the latter case, it should be paid at the end of the haul. This was the opinion of all jurists as reported in an Nawawi's al-Majrnu'.


Zakah  not to be mixed with Property:

Al-Bukhari in his Tarikh relate from 'Aishah (R.A.) that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: "Whenever sadaqah which is payable is mixed with a property, it will destroy that property." The same hadith is related by al-Humaydi with this addition: "If you have to pay sadaqah which is payable, then it must be set aside, or the unlawful [property] will destroy the lawful one.


Who are the recipients of Zakah?

There are eight categories of the beneficiaries of Zakah which Allah specifies in the holy Qur'an: "The alms are only for the poor and the needy, for those who collect them, for those whose hearts are to be reconciled, for the freedom of those who are captives and in debt, for the cause of Allah, and for the wayfarers; [it is] a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is the Knower, the Wise" [at-Taubah 60].


1-Poors (Fuaqara):

The Quranic term (Fuqara) applies to those who depend for their subsistence on others. Zakah aims at supporting the poor by satisfying their needs. A specified amount is therefore given to them on a continuous basis to alleviate their state of poverty.


2-Needy (Miskeen):

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) reported that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said: "The needy person (miskin) is not one who goes around asking the people for a date or two, or for a mouthful or two, but the one who is too embarrassed to ask. Read if you wish: 'They do not beg from men importunately' [alBaqarah 273]."


3-The Zakah Employees (Aameleen):

Muslims who are employed to collect Zakah, either through persuasion or force can also qualify as its recipients. Their support and their undertaking to help the government/Zakah institution is the lesser of two evils and a preferable arrangement.


4-Reconcilation of Hearts (Moallafati Quloobohum):

This applies primarily to that group of people whose hearts, due to their weak faith, need to be reconciled or strengthened for Islam. In this case, Zakah is distributed to rid Muslims of their evil, or to procure their assistance in the defense of Muslims.


5-For those in Bondage (wa fi ar-riqab):

This category includes two kinds of slaves: contracted slaves and regular slaves. Both categories were aided with sadaqah to obtain their freedom.


6-In Debt (Gharimin):

People burdened by debts and unable to pay them are of several kinds: those who took upon themselves responsibility to discharge a debt; those who guaranteed debts of others and therefore, upon default, the debts have become their obligation; those who mismanaged their finances, those who borrowed money because they had to; or those who were involved in sinful acts and then repented, and who had to pay a fine for repentance. All of them may take sadaqah to meet their debts.


7- For the cause of Allah (Fi Sabilillah):

Fi Sabilillah means for the sake of Allah that is, to attain Allah's pleasure. Part of Zakah designated for the cause of Allah is given to volunteer fighters, especially those who are not on the payroll of the state, regardless of their financial status. The students/Scholars engaged to learn and spread up the teachings and practices of Islam may also be helped through Zakah fund if they are unable to arrange their source of income. Similarly the welfare projects designed to benefit the community in large with intention to attain Allah’s Pleasure may be funded through Zakah amount.


8- For the Way Farer (Ibne Sabil):

A traveler stranded in a foreign land should be given Zakah if he lacks the means to achieve his objectives. Zakah is not to be given to the person if he can find someone to lend him the money he needs and if he has enough of his own money in his country to pay his debt.


Zakah cannot be normally given to: 


1.     Non- Muslims. Zakah is just not a charity but accomplish with faith and intention to offer a prayer instead of mere charity. Since non Muslims are not comprised with the true faith they are out of this context.

2.     Relatives like father, mother, children (minor child) paternal and maternal grand parents, etc. and offspring.

3.     To Sayeds. They are the descendants of the holy Prophet, upon whom be peace and Zakah is nothing but filth that comes out from people's properties so it is not  suitable for descendants of the holy Prophet, upon whom be peace.

4.       Zakah is a religious charity and must not be used to clear any commercial liability of Zakah Payer nor it should be used to benefit the Zakah payer in terms of socio-economic or political edges.


Tradition of Zakah Collection and Distribution:

Though the practice of Zakah was observed even before Hijrat,  it has been lawfully imposed and implemented in the ninth Hijra year.  During his period, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to send his authorized agents to collect Zakah. He would then distribute it among the deserving people. Abu Bakr and 'Umar (R. A.) did the same. As-Sa'ib ibn Yazid reported: "I once heard the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace. He said: 'This is the month of your Zakah. If any one of you still owes a debt, let him pay it off so that your properties become free from debts. Then, you can pay the Zakah on them.' " Al-Baihaqi relates it with a sahih chain.


Before seventh Hijra century the administration of Zakah funds were managed through Baitulmal under Islamic Governance.  But after seventh Hijra century, with fall of Islamic Governance and Leadership, the practice of Baitulmal was not observed in the Muslim community. In absence of Baitulmal the intellectuals of that period granted permission to distribute Zakah at personal levels which has been misunderstood as command by the followers.


Current Pattern:

Zakah is the right of Baitulmal as said by our first khaliph Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddiq (R.A.). Zakah has to be collected and distributed through Baitulmal only.  As salat is acceptable if offered at personal level instead of Jamat, but looses its spirit,  similarly Zakah may be accepted if paid personally to the needy, but it looses the spirit of prayer for the reason it has been paid against the practice of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and thereafter the Khaliphs (R.A.).


What to do Now?:

So let’s strive to resurrect the system as was practiced by our beloved  Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and thereafter, the Khulapha al Rashidoon (R.A.) to collect and distribute Zakah through Baitulmal. In countries such as India; in the absence of Islamic system of governance, it is the responsibility of community leaders to take initiative and lead to renew this system of Baitulmal for Zakah Administration.


The messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) has also indicated that Zakah should be paid to the Leader of the community. In the absence of a viable alternative Islamic Leadership, it is the social worker / devotees for community development who are expected to hold this responsibility because the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has said that the leader is the one who serves the community. So the community development workers or social service sectors are expected to organize this Zakah institution until we see the establishment of Islamic government.


Role of AICMEU Bait Al Zakah:

AICMEU - All India Council of Muslim Economic Upliftment is a social service organization registered as charitable company under Bombay Public Trust Act 1950 (vide No. E-10118 (B)/85). It is an outcome of sincere thinking of a group of Islamic Volunteers who observed that a large population of India, particularly Muslims, is devoid of even the bare necessities. Besides, efforts in respect to economic pursuits are not always in consonance with Islamic morality. Hence, in the year 1981 they resolved that some organized effort be applied that familiarizes the people with principles of Islamic economics on one hand and uplifts their economic condition on the other. 

In the year 1988–89 AICMEU organized workshops and seminars on community development and resolved to form AICMEU Bait Al Zakah to make the Zakah payers aware about the need and importance of Bait Al Zakah (Centralized Zakah System).

Since 1989, we, at AICMEU, have organized a number of seminars, workshops and symposiums on centralized Zakah system. A series of booklets has been published and distributed among the Zakah payers, community workers, organization of different cities and states of India. It resulted in formation of a number of small Zakah institutions in places like Mumbai, Delhi, Aligarh, Kanpur,  Patna, Guwahati, Kolkatta etc. but the task is not yet over. Every year we publicize the concept of centralized Zakah system through booklets, posters, banners and stickers etc. The campaign is on and members of the community are being aware about the concept. Though it is difficult for the Zakah payers to revoke the old pattern of Zakah distribution, many Zakah payers are coming forward to assist us in establishment of Zakah institution.

During last 17 years (1989–2006) at AICMEU Bait Al Zakah,  we have collected over 9 million rupees and disbursed the same to lend a hand over 10,400 needy persons in the community. Last year (2005-06) itself we helped over 451 persons to meet their basic need. The income and expenditure statement of AICMEU Bait Al Zakah for 2005-06 is mentioned in the following table. The List of Beneficiaries could be viewed here.





 Business Aid



 Casual Aid



 Debt Aid



 Educational Aid



 Eid Aid



 Fitra Paid



 Medical Aid



 Housing Aid



 Monthly Stipend



 Salaries & Bonus



 Economic Rehabilitation



 Qurbani Expenses



Total Beneficiries



Total Expenditure



You are free to disburse your Zakah anywhere but please review about the utilization of your Zakah when in our country


1.      43% Muslims in Urban areas are living below poverty line.

2.      Around 35% Muslims are illiterate.

3.      Less than 5% Muslims are secondary pass

4.      Less than 1% Muslims are graduates

5.      Less than 20% Muslims have pipe waters.


If you are convinced that you can individually change the status of the community with your Zakah, you should go ahead with your views. Otherwise if you think that this condition of our community need an organized and comprehensive planning, and approach we should look ahead for an organized and optimal use of our Zakah for community development.


I sincerely believe that no individual is capable to change the fate of the community with his / her Zakah if paid individually. However to make the desired change in our community, we should organize, revive and strengthen our Baitulmal and collectively we may change the fate of our community. There is bless of Allah on collective decision and efforts taken by the community.


Remember! The Zakah disbursed individually may please the Zakah payer but it is definitely an act against the practice of our Prophet (SAS) and may not fulfill the requirement of the community. Indivialistic approach towards disbursement of Zakah may only divide the community and may create hurdle in community integration and unity. Thus we request you to kindly review your approach before disbursement of your Zakah.


Please call us back to give your kind suggestions and cooperation about this task. Muslim are bound to promote the goods and curb the bad practices.





Dr. Abdul Mobin


AICMEU’s Bait Al Zakah

Tel. – 2347 8329 / 98 9205 7452