From its communal benefits is that:
1. Zakat provides for the needs of the poor who are the majority of people in most countries.
2. Zakat strengthens the Muslims and raises their status. This is why one of the areas Zakat can be given in is Jihaad in the Cause of Allah, as we will mention later, by the Will of Allah.
3. It removes the grudges and ill feelings found in the hearts of the poor and destitute.
This is since when the poor see the money the wealthy have and their not benefiting them with it, by giving them neither a little nor a lot, then it is likely that they will hold hatred and rancor for the wealthy as they did not enforce their rights or provide for their needs. But when the wealthy do give some of their money to them at the beginning of every year (i.e. after holding the wealth for a year’s time), these things terminate and there comes about love and harmony.
4. Giving Zakat boosts one’s wealth and increases it’s blessedness, as is stated in the hadeeth from the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in which he said: “Charity does not detract from one’s wealth.” This means that even though charity (Zakat) takes away from one’s wealth numerically, it indeed never takes away from its blessedness or its increasing in the future. Rather, Allah will replace what he gave away and bless his wealth.
5. Zakat is a means for spreading and distributing wealth (throughout the community). This is since if some wealth is given out, its range is broadened and many people benefit from it, contrary to when the wealth is just preserved amongst the rich, since the poor will not gain any part of it.
All of these benefits that come from giving Zakat show clearly that Zakat is something necessary and required in order to rectify the individual and the society.
How perfect is Allah, the All-Knowing and Most Wise!
Zakat is required to be given on specific forms of wealth, which include:
1. Gold and silver, on the condition that they meet the nisaab (minimum requirement). With regard to gold, the nisaab is 11 3/7 Saudi pounds, and for silver it is 56 Saudi Riyals worth of silver or whatever equals that amount from other forms of paper currency. One is obligated to pay a quarter of a tenth Zakat on the above (i.e. 2.5%).
It makes no difference if the gold and silver come in the form of cash, coins or jewelry.
Furthermore, one must pay Zakat on a woman’s gold and silver jewelry if it meets the nisaab, regardless of whether she wears that jewelry or lends it out. The reason for this is because the evidences that mandate that Zakat be paid on gold and silver are general and not detailed. And it is also because there are specific ahaadeeth that indicate the obligation of giving Zakat on jewelry, even if it is worn, such as what has been reported by ‘Abdullaah bin ‘Amr bin al-‘Aas (radyAllahu ‘anhu) that:
“A woman once came to the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) with her daughter who had two gold bangles on her hand. So the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘Do you pay Zakat on this?’ She said: ‘No.’ So he (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘Would it please you if Allah made you wear two bangles of fire instead?’ So she took them off and said: ‘They are for Allah and His Messenger.’” [It is stated in Buloogh-ul-Maraam: “Reported by the Three and its chain of narration is strong.”]
Another reason is because this is more cautious and the most cautious approach takes precedence.
2. Also from the wealth that one is obligated to pay Zakat on is: Business merchandise, which includes everything that is prepared for business purposes, such as real estate property, automobiles, livestock, household goods and other types of wealth. It is obligatory to pay a quarter of a tenth (i.e. 2.5%) on these items.
After holding the item for one year, one must estimate how much it is worth and pay 2.5% (Zakat) on it, regardless of whether it now costs more, less or the same amount as what he originally paid for it. As for the items he prepares for his personal use or which he leases, such as real estate property, automobiles, appliances and so on, then there is no Zakat due on them based on the Prophet’s (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) statement: “A Muslim is not obligated to pay Zakat on his slave or his horse.”
However, Zakat is due on things that are rented, when their year time-limit is reached, as well as on gold and silver due to what was stated previously.
 Translator’s Note: Meaning Abu Dawood, An-Nasaa’ee and At-Tirmidhee
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