Zak?t (or Zakah; in English: tax, alms, tithe)is the third of the Five Pillars of Islam in Sunni Islam and one of the Branches of Religion in Shi'a Islam. Its literal meaning is 'to grow (in goodness)' or 'increase', 'purifying', or 'making pure'. It is prescribed in the Qur'an:
"And what you give in usury, so that it may increase through (other) people's wealth it does not increase with Allah, but what you give in Zak?t, seeking Allah's Pleasure, then it is those who shall gain reward manifold..." (30:39)
Zak?t is the compulsory giving of a set proportion of one's wealth to charity. It is regarded as a type of worship and of self-purification. Zak?t does not refer to charitable gifts given out of kindness or generosity.
Zak?t can be spent for the following eight purposes:
1. It may be given to poor person, who does not possess actual or potential means to meet his own expenses, as well as that of his family for a period of one year. However, a person who has an art or possesses property or capital to meet his expenses is not classified as poor.
2. It may be paid to a miskin (a destitute person) who leads a harder life than a Faqir (a poor person).
3. It can be given to a person who is a Wakil of Holy Imam (A.S.) or his representative to collect Zakat, to keep it in safe custody, to maintain its accounts and to deliver it to the Imam or his representative or to the poor.
4. It can be given to those non-Muslims who may, as a result, be inclined to Islam, or may assist the Muslims with the Zakat for fighting against the enemies, or for other
5. It can be spent to purchase the slaves to set them free.
6. It can be given to an indebted person who is unable to repay his debt.
7. It may be spent in the way of Allah for things which has common benefit to the Muslims; for example, to construct a mosque, or a school for religious education, or to keep the city clean, or to widen or to build tar roads.
8. It may be given to a stranded traveller.
These are the situations in which Zakat can be spent. But in situation number 3 and 4, the owner cannot spend without the permission of Imam (A.S.) or his representative; and the same applies to the 7th situation, as per obligatory precaution.
It is obligatory to pay Zak?t on the following things:
9. Sheep (including goat)
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