As an opportunity to share their excess wealth with those less fortunate than themselves, Islam requires Muslims to give 2.5% of their wealth to the poor every year. Muslims pay Zakat as an obligatory part of Ibadah, which is the Arabic word for worship, obedience, submission, and humility. Zakat does not refer to charitable gifts given out of kindness or generosity, but to the systematic giving of 2.5% of one’s wealth each year to benefit the poor.
The benefits of zakat, apart from helping the poor, are to:
- Obey God.
- Behave honestly.
- Acknowledge that everything comes from God on loan and that people do not really own anything themselves.
- Not cling to anything because when a person dies, they cannot take anything with them.
- Acknowledge that whether a person is rich or poor is God’s choice so people should help those God has chosen to make poor.
- Learn self-discipline.
- Free oneself from the love of possessions, greed and money. In addition, to free oneself from being arrogant or egocentric.
The 2.5% paid only applies to cash, gold and silver, and commercial items. There are other percentages payable for farm and mining produce, and for animals.
This giving of wealth is a way for Muslims to ‘cleanse’ their money and possessions from excessive desire or greed. The idea is, that by giving this money, a Muslim learns to place less importance on material wealth (cash and possessions).
Zakat is not an option but a compulsory act for all Muslims and is neither charity nor a tax. It is expected from every individual Muslim. It is paid on the balance of wealth after a Muslim has paid for basic necessities, family expenses, outstanding debts or loans, donations and taxes. If the amount of money one possesses is greater than the value of 592.9 grams of silver, and one owns this money for more than a lunar year, then it is obligatory for one to pay zakat.
Islam has set certain conditions for the payment of zakat:
- Full ownership (there is no zakat on public property, endowments and bad debts).
- It should be paid on properties that are liable to grow (not on the properties used for personal use such vehicles, house, tools or furniture).
- The property should reach nisab. In Sharia, this is the amount one’s net worth must exceed for the Muslim owner to be obligated to give zakat. No zakat is due on wealth until one year passes. Zakat is then determined based on the amount of wealth acquired; the greater the assets, the greater the tax.
- It is paid on surplus wealth after meeting a person’s expenses and those of his family.
- The person should be free of debts.
- The property should be in possession of a person for a complete one year, but for agricultural products zakat must paid at the time of harvesting.
- Through the payment of zakat, the rich share their wealth with the poor and thus the process of concentration of wealth is checked and fair distribution ensured. One of the key concerns that many people have is that the zakat given ultimately reaches the people in need – this means that there is no money kept by a charity for any reason.
Among other things, Islam has its own economic principles. Zakat is one of the basic principles of the Islamic economy, based on social welfare and the fair distribution of wealth. In addition to the compulsory payment of zakat, Muslims are encouraged in the Qur’an to make voluntary contributions to help the poor and needy, and for other social welfare purposes. This voluntary contribution is called sadaqah. Sadaqah or Saddka is an Islamic term that means ‘voluntary charity’. This concept encompasses any act of giving out of compassion, love, friendship or generosity.
Examples of sadaqah:
- Making a donation.
- Helping someone in need.
- Cleaning a street, beach or other places.
- Spending on your family.
- Speaking the truth and behaving in a just manner.
- Planting a tree – whatever is eaten from it, by either human or animal, is charity.
- Using any resource (time, food, knowedge) to spend on others.
- Every step one takes towards the mosque for salat or prayer.
Note: The difference between zakat and sadaqh in Islam is that zakat is compulsory charity whereas sadaqah is voluntary charity.
Most Renowned Charity Centres in Qatar
Qatar Charity (qcharity.com)
Qatar Charity is a non-governmental organisation, founded in 1992 for the development of the Qatari society and other needy communities. It works in the fields of sustainable development, reducing poverty, and disaster relief and emergency response. QC works in different countries around the world and its activities cover many countries in Asia, Europe and Africa.
Qatar Red Crescent (ifrc.org)
Volunteers have been the backbone of Red Crescent’s movement since its birth in 1863. Today, as ever, they are central to all activities of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, contributing to the success of the organisation’s National Societies and assisting millions of vulnerable people in times of greatest need.
Reach Out To Asia – ROTA (reachouttoasia.org)
ROTA has joined the global effort to achieve basic, quality education for both primary and secondary schoolchildren throughout Asia and the Middle East. In each of their chosen countries, ROTA will build or adopt schools; promote female education; initiate academic fellowships; coordinate student exchange programmes; provide teacher and vocational training; and connect participating countries through a shared knowledge network.
A common form of zakat is waqf (singular) or awqaf (plural), which typically is the donation of a building or plot of land or even cash for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust. The grant is known as mushrut-ul-khidmat, while a person making such dedication is known as wakif. Although awqaf applies to non-properties such as fixed property, land or buildings, it can be applied to money, books, shares, stocks, and other assets. The concept of awqaf is a well-practiced phenomenon in both the Muslim and non-Muslim world.
Kinds of awqaf:
- Religious awqaf focuses on the maintenance of religious institutions, such as mosques and madrasas, (the Arabic word for any type of educational institution, whether secular or religious) and their adjacent premises and properties.
- Philanthropic awqaf aims to provide support for the poor, such as health services, as well as education. In the early days of Islam, Prophet Muhammed initiated this type of awqaf with the objective to reduce the disparity and inequality among the social strata.
- Family awqaf is unique in that it ensures awqaf proceeds are given to the family and descendants first with the excess then given to the poor.
The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs
One of the most popular forms of awqaf or waqf is the building of mosques. In most Muslim countries exists a Ministry of Awqaf or Endowment, which oversees issues of zakat and sadaqah. Most importantly, the Ministries of Awqaf oversee the building and maintainance of mosques in their respective countries.
The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs is one of the most important ministries in the State of Qatar. It implements an Islamic approach and is concerned with the affairs of Muslims from the pulpits of mosques. It is responsible for the management of mosques including maintenance and supervision. The Ministry has several activities such as advocacy and dissemination of human culture. The Ministry is also responsible for the annual zakat.
In addition the Ministry implement proposed policies and programmes; informs and shows the impact of Islam and Islamic values on the development of humanity and progress of the society; disseminates Islamic culture and the development of religious consciousness; develops closer relations with other Islamic bodies and organisations in the world; administrates awqaf with the supervision, care and investment of income derived from them; and is in charge of distributing estates to beneficiaries managing the funds of minors.
Qatar’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs opened 25 new mosques before Ramadan in 2013. In addition, another 71 mosques are in the process of being built. Awqaf oversees the maintenance of some 900 mosques with a budget of more than QR460 million.
Note:According to Islamic teachings, when one builds a mosque, he or she receives the good deeds of every person who prays at the mosque, and Allah builds him or her a home in jannah or heaven.
Mosques of Qatar
One of the most beautiful structures to see in Qatar are the mosques (commonly referred to as awqaf) which have the tendency to influence any sight-seer. Although a modern Islamic Country, Qatar has a rich heritage with a thousand mosques. Some of the buildings are open to anyone who wishes to know more about Islam and the traditions of Qatar.
One of the most popular mosques in Qatar is Fanar, Qatar Islamic and Cultural Center which is also known as the Spiral Mosque. Standing off the Corniche along Grand Hamad Street, the mosque is visible from all the angles of the Corniche. Fanar is also an Islamic and cultural centre. On the ground floor, there is a shopping area, where one can experience the real essence of Islamic tradition. Anyone wishing to learn Arabic, can access the classrooms, free of charge. The Fanar mosque used to be the largest mosque in Qatar, until 2009, when the State Mosque was built. However, Fanar is currently the highest mosque in Qatar.
The State Mosque, Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahab Mosque, is the largest mosque in Qatar. It’s built in an area of about 19,550 square metres on three levels with a land area of 175,000 sq m, fitting more than 10,000 worshippers for prayers. The mosque has 28 major and 65 minor domes. The mihrab contains two domes. The mihrab is a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla, which is the direction of the Ka’aba in Mecca and the direction that Muslims should face when praying. The mosque has three main gates. The mosque is named after the reformist, pioneer and Muslim theologian of the 18th century, Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahab (1703–1792). Born in Najd, Saudi Arabia, Ibn Abdul Wahab advocated purging Islam of what he considered to be impurities and innovations. His great movement, popularly known as Wahhabism, is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia.
The upcoming Al Rayyan Mosque will be the second largest mosque in Qatar; it will have sky high minarets of up to 60 m and 39 m high domes. It will be located opposite the Racing and Equestrian Club and cover an area of 9,000 sq m. As many as 2,500 worshippers will be able to pray in this mosque at one time.