The third pillar is that of Zakat, giving alms to charity. Required by all who can afford it, 2.5% is asked to be given to those less fortunate or charity organizations. There are two kinds of Zakat al Maal, one for giving throughout the year, and is highly favored, the other called Zakat Fitrah is requirement for all Muslims during the celebration of Ramadan before the prayers on Eid.

 

The word Zakah comes from the root meaning to cleanse or purify. The Muslim pays Zakat to purify the earnings made through the year. It is supposed to encourage honest business dealings, to restrain greed and discourage selfishness. It also works to raise funds for religious organizations.


Zakat is to be paid on earnings or on crops, similar to tithing, but the individual has options as to where to pay the Zakat. It must never go to a non-Muslim, or it would not be considered Zakat. Zakat Al Fitrah is paid in grain and dates right before the Eid, to those in the community less fortunate. Zakat is also paid from companies and organizations throughout the Muslim world as well.


There are requirements as to who can receive Zakat gifts:


People who are in complete poverty and have nothing.

People who have some wealth, but not enough to meet their basic needs.

The people who collect Zakat to distribute to the poor and needy.

People who are sympathetic towards Islam or wish to enter to Islam, and are needy.

Zakat may be used to free a person from slavery.

Zakat can be given to those who are in debt and unable to pay off their debt.

The people who work in God’s way and strive to give Dawah.

Travelers and/or wayfarers who are needy.