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Features - The Asian Today

Updated: 11:58, Wednesday August 11, 2010
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Paying your Zakah this Ramadan
A guide on how to calculate Zakah on contemporary assets
 
WE all know Ramadan is fast approaching, and to welcome the holiest month of the year, we’ve packed our freezers, dusted off our Qurans and made intentions to devote more time in this blessed month to our prayers.
Ramadan is also the perfect time to pay our Zakah, as the reward for any obligatory deed in Ramadan is multiplied seventy times. Imagine how many more hours we would work if our employer put up our wage from £10 to £700 per hour for one month every year!
Islam encourages Muslims to be kind to others and as our Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) famously said that offering even a smile to another person is charity. Zakah however, is more than just charity. Zakah is a God given right the poor have in our wealth. Islamically, Zakah is the singular greatest obligation after Salah (prayer). The need for Muslims to pay Zakah has been stressed on many occasions in the Quran, and on no less than 32 separate occasions the Quran encourages Muslims to not only establish Salah, but also, in the same verse to pay Zakah.
It is therefore vital we know how to calculate our Zakah correctly, just like it is vital we know how to make wudhu and offer our Salah correctly. Many of us will know that 2.5% of the combined value of our cash, gold and silver is to be offered as Zakah if the value exceeds the Nisab level.
What’s Nisab I hear you ask? This is the minimum amount set by the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) to establish whether a person owns sufficient amount of wealth in order to qualify for the payment of Zakah. This amount fluctuates with time and currently works out to approximately £232. (Readers are requested to approach their local Imam for further clarification of Nisab).
Do you need to pay Zakah on any other assets? Well, there are one or two basic principles to bear in mind which should allow the majority of people to fulfil their Zakah obligations correctly.
Firstly, Zakah is payable on debts other people owe us. Equally, debts we owe to others can be deducted from our Zakah assets as long as the debt is not payable in instalments, in which case, only the value of the twelve monthly instalments can be deducted.
For example:
Aadil has £300 in cash. However, he owes his brother £150. After subtracting the value of what is owed to his brother, Aadil now only owns £150 in cash. As this is less than the Zakah threshold, Zakah is not payable on this.   
Sarah on the other hand, has £150 in cash and holds some gold jewellery worth £700. Sarah’s sister owes her £150. Her total wealth before deduction is £1,000. However Sarah owes her neighbour £300 so she will deduct this from her total wealth, leaving a net figure of £700. After all deductions, Sarah’s net wealth is above the Nisab level (currently at £232) therefore, Zakah is payable at 2.5%. 
It is also important to remember to fix one date per year based on the Islamic calendar, for example 1st Ramadan, and base your Zakah calculations on the assets owned on this date. It is always worth checking with a local scholar or visiting a credible website to make sure your calculations add up properly, especially if you own a business or lots of financial assets.
Whatever amount of Zakah we may need to pay, it is important to remember wealth is a trust (amanah) given to us by Allah (swt) for which we will be questioned on the Day of Reckoning. Therefore, we should give Zakah gladly, because its payment enables us to fulfil a central obligation of Islam as well as benefit the needy.

This article has been written by Razina Bargit of the 1st Ethical Charitable Trust, a registered charity which seeks to empower British Muslims with the necessary information needed to conduct their financial, legal and business affairs in a manner consistent with Shari’ah principles.
FURTHER INFORMATION & RESOURCES:
Visit www.1stethical.com and download all the information you require from 1st Ethical Charitable Trust’s Online Knowledge Base ranging from Zakah Calculator, Online Guide on ‘Understanding to Calculating Zakah, Youtube Webtorials and much more. The Shari’ah accuracy of all material have been verified by Al Qalam Shari’ah Panel www.alqalam.org.uk

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