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An Introduction to Zakāt in Islām

​The History of Zakāt.

Allāh Ta'ālā has mentioned Zakāt numerous times in the Qur’ān. Many times it is mentioned along with Ṣalāt. But when was Zakāt actually made compulsory ?

We look at the early days of Islām. In Sūrah Al-Muzzamil which was the 3rd Sūrah to be revealed, Allāh Ta'ālā said in verse 20:


وَاَقِيمُوا الصَّلٰوةَ وَاٰتُوا الزَّكٰوةَ


“And establish Ṣalāt and pay Zakāt”

*The Makkan Period

The ruling of Zakāt was revealed during the Makkan period but no further elaboration was revealed on this command. The Ṣaḥābah radhiyallāhu 'anhu even asked Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam about this.

In Sūrah Al-Baqarah, Allāh Ta'ālā tells us about this in verse 219:

وَيَســـَٔلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنفِقُونَ قُلِ العَفوَ

 “And they ask you as to what they should spend. Say, “The surplus””

So, the command was to spend from whatever is surplus, extra from your wealth. No fixed amount of wealth was specified.

Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam then migrated to Madīnah and in the 2nd year of Hijri when the Islamic Society was established with a rule of law, Allāh Ta'ālā then revealed the details of Zakāt.

What are the 5 pillars of Islām?

​​Foundational Ḥadīth

As well the Qur’ān, there are many Aḥādīth which tell us about Zakāt. The Ṣiḥḥa Sitta, the 6 authentic books of Aḥadīth all have chapters on Zakāt. And you will see Ḥadīth in which Zakāt has been mentioned with the other foundational commandments like the following:

In Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhāri, in Kitābul Īmān, there is a Ḥadīth narrated by ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿUmar radhiyallāhu 'anhu.

عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ قَالَ

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم

‏ "‏ بُنِيَ الإِسْلاَمُ عَلَى خَمْسٍ شَهَادَةِ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَإِقَامِ الصَّلاَةِ وَإِيتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ وَالْحَجِّ وَصَوْمِ رَمَضَانَ ‏‏

‘Ibn ꜤUmar radhiyallāhu 'anhu mentions that he heard the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam say, that the foundations of Islām are on five things, To bear witness that there is no God but Allāh Ta'ālā, and Muḥammad sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam is his Messenger, to establish Ṣalāt, to discharge the Zakāt, and (to perform) Ḥajj and to fast in the month of Ramaḍān.’

In the famous Ḥadīth Jibrīl ,one of the questions that was asked by Jibrīl to Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam was ‘Mal Islām?’ what is Islām, and Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam gave these 5 foundational beliefs as the answer.

​The Foundational Beliefs

Let’s take each of these foundational beliefs one at a time. Each of these is unique in the fact that Allāh Ta'ālā gives us the opportunity to worship him in different ways.

The first belief is to bear witness that there is no God but Allāh Ta'ālā and that Muḥammad sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam is his Messenger. This is our faith, and stays with a person continuously, 24 hours a day. A person who has faith stays in perpetual Imān, whether they are awake or asleep

The next pillar is Ṣalāt. This is something a person does daily, and is a badani, feꜤli, physical form of worship. A person uses his or her body to worship Allāh Ta'ālā 5 times a day, every day.

Then the next pillar is Ṣaum or fasting. which a person does for one whole month each year. A Muslim on average will spend one twelfth of their adult life fasting. And this is a taraki ꜤIbādah, a form of worship in which a person abstains. We abstain from food, drink and relations with our partners for the daylight hours. So here the worship is related to a person not doing certain things to abstention.

Then we have Zakāt, the obligatory alms giving. This is a Māli ꜤIbādah, a form of worship which is financial. A person uses his or her money to gain reward and this is done once a year. Inshā'Allāh more details are covered later.

And then we have the Farḍ Ḥajj, this ꜤIbādah is only done once in a lifetime. The first Ḥajj is the only obligatory Ḥajj they will perform. And this worship includes all the previous forms, it is badani, feꜤlī physical ꜤIbādah. A person will use their body, they will do the Ṭawāf and the SaꜤī and go to Minā, ꜤArafah, Muzdalifah etc. It is also a Taraki ꜤIbādah, an abstaining form of worship. When a person is in Iḥrām, they have restrictions, men can’t cover the head or wear stitched clothes. Men and women cannot have relations with their husband or wife, cut their hair or pare their nails etc. And finally, it is also a Māli, financial ꜤIbādah as a person will have to spend a lot of money to go for Ḥajj, sometimes it could be their life savings.

Allāh Ta'ālā is so merciful and gives us all the opportunity to worship him in a multitude of ways.

It is also an obligation upon each Muslim to learn how to discharge Zakāt.

Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam mentions in a famous Ḥadīth, that the seeking of knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim, and this includes learning about Zakāt and how to discharge it correctly.

Zakat is an obligation and one must carefully and precisely calculate zakat on their Zakat date. Please have a look at FAQ, Blog for further details and Zakat example calculations.

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