Every religion of the world has preached the giving of charity. Islam makes charity obligatory and binding upon all those who embrace Islam. Here we have a brotherhood into which the rich man cannot enter unless, and until, he is willing to give part of his possessions for the support of the poor and the needy members of the community.
In its primary sense, the word zakât means purification, where it is also used to express a portion of the remainder to the proprietor. It is an institution of Islam founded upon an express command in the Qu’ran, as one of the five foundations of practical religion.
It is an obligatory religious duty upon any person who is free, sane, adult and a Muslim, provided that he is possessed in full property of such estate or effects as are termed, in the language of the Law, nisab, i.e. fixed amount of property, and that he has been in possession of the same for the period of one complete year. The nisab or fixed amount of property upon which zakât is due varies with reference to the different kinds of property in possession, as is detailed in the present article. The one complete year in which the property is held in possession is termed in the Law as hawlul-haul, i.e. the return of duration.
Zakât is not obligatory upon a man, against whom there are debts equal or exceeding the amount of his whole property, nor it is due upon the necessaries of life, such as dwelling-houses, articles of clothing, household furniture, cattle kept for immediate use, war prisoners employed as actual servants, armour and weapons designed for present use, or upon books of science or law used by scholars, or upon tools used by craftsmen. Zakât is obligatory upon the nisab of the following possessions: -
[b] Bulls, cows and buffaloes.
[c] Sheep and goats.
[f] Gold and silver ornaments.
[g] Cash, Bank-notes, etc.
[h] Articles of merchandise.
[i] Mines or buried treasures.
[j] Fruits of the earth.
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