Preparing for Zakat

Everyone gets ready to perform one of the important pillars of Islam – Zakat – during the last week of Ramadhan.

Understanding the principles of fasting and the completion of fasting with Zakat provides an insight on the reasons for these two acts and that is to bring in an understanding between the haves and have-nots.

Through fasting one understands hunger and through Zakat one learns to care about the needy in the society.  But there is more.

Hatim al Abdulsalam, member of the Islamic Information Centre of Oman, explained that there are two types of Zakat that has to be performed – one is for the purification of one’s wealth and the other is to purify the body.

“Let us clarify the terminologies as when it comes to Zakat there are two types – one is Zakat al Maal, that is the Zakat on wealth, and Zakat al Abdan, which is Zakat on purifying our bodies.  Now Zakat al Maal can be paid any time of the year, which is 2.5 per cent of your annual savings while Zakat al Abdan is only paid during Ramadan on the last day before the prayers where rice is given to the needy.  It can be rice or wheat depending on the country and the staple diet there.  This type of Zakat is not paid as money but it is paid out as food.  Normally there are Zakat committees in each area where they take the collection from people and bulk amount of rice is purchased and distributed to the needy families,” Al Abdulsalam explained.

According to him this year the rate of rice to perform Zakat for each individual is RO 1.5.

“For example the head of the family including each member of the family is responsible for the Zakat.  He has to contribute RO 1.5 on behalf of each member of the family,” he added.

“First of all it is abiding by the wish of the Almighty and it is also the purification of our body.  We have fasted for 30 days and this is a way of purifying ourselves after the long dedication of worship.  The third reason is for the joy of the day (Eid) so nobody should go hungry on that day,” he noted.

“Can you imagine if there is the needy and the poor who have to see everyone enjoying Eid and the feasting while they do not have anything to feed their children?  Islam is a complete way of life and it teaches that even in terms of joy and happiness it has to be in a group and not just at individual level.  So I cannot be happy and enjoy the feast while my neighbor, who is needy, cannot get something to celebrate.  They do not just receive Zakat al Abdan most people in Oman pay Zakat of their wealth during Ramadhan as well,” said Al Abdulsalam.

What is also important is to know the member of the society who requires a helping hand.