Is It best practice to give out Zakat in the month of Ramadan?
Zakat are obligatory alms made upon wealth by Allah (SWT). It is the third pillar of Islam. A Muslim whom possess the minimal amount of wealth (nisab) is obligated to give out zakat every year. Zakat literally means “increase” as in growth.
The word zakat encompasses 3 things;
1.God has promised growth on the wealth of people who give Zakat.
2. Zakat purifies the person’s sins and
3. Zakat may mean ‘sweetening,’ meaning wealth on which Zakat is not paid will be bitter in this life and the next one.
A majority of people give out Zakat in the month of Ramadan. It is a good practice but it is not compulsory like some scholars made it seem. This is clearly a misconception of zakat together with other misconceptions such as zakat cannot be given to relatives or zakat is on excesses only.
Validity of giving out Zakkah in Ramadan
Muslims don’t have to wait until the month of Ramadan before they give out zakat. If a Muslim has reached the minimum amount (nisab) on the 10th of Shawwal, then the person should give out zakat on the 10th of Shawwal of the next year.
However we are allowed to pay zakat before it reaches a complete lunar year; so the person can decide to give it out in the month of Ramadan but one has to calculate his assets again on the 10th of Shawwal. When one pays in excess of what one is supposed to pay as zakkah then it becomes sadaqa. The daleel (evidence) are discussed below;
Any proof for or against such a practice
The hadiths that scholars use to back up for the argument for payment of zakat in Ramadan is as follows;
The Prophet (S) said: “The best charity is the one which is given in Ramadan.” [Tirmidhi].
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him reported that; the messenger of Allah(s) was the most generous of the men, and he was the most generous during the month of Ramadan when Jibreel visited him every night and recited the Quran to him. During this period, the generosity of the messenger if Allah waxed faster than the rain bearing wind. (Bukhari and Muslim).
According to some scholars, based on the hadith above; the reward of giving zakat in Ramadan increases 70 times since any good act in Ramadan will be rewarded 70 times.
The hadith emphasizes of two things; being more generous and recitation of the Quran in the month of Ramadan. So there’s is a close relationship between Ramadan and charity. During Ramadan the heart becomes softer, Muslims become more compassionate due to praying taraweh. The thirst and hunger reminds us of people who don’t have enough money to feed themselves which leads us to become more generous.
Imam Al-Ghazali in ilhya ul uloom stated that;
"One should endeavor to choose one of the most opportune times to pay Zakat, resulting in more closeness to Allah and compounding the value of the Zakat. One such favorable time would be month of Muharram, since it is the first month of the Islamic year and one of the sacred months. Another is Ramadan."
However, The Quran verse that shows Zakat must not be paid in the Month of Ramadan is;
Zakat must be paid given away on the day of harvest (Q6:141)
“On the day of harvest” signifies that zakat can be paid any time of the year and not only during Ramadan. There are fabricated hadith that many scholars had spread which misled people to think it is compulsory to give out zakat in Ramadan. This made the Muslims to abandon the teachings of the Quran and follow the fabricated hadiths. The corrupted hadith classified zakat into a brand new way never seen in the Quran and they implied that zakat must be paid during Ramadan or at the beginning of the year.
In my own opinion, it is good to be more charitable in Ramadan. It does not have to be zakat. Ramadan is a month of giving, the Quran was revealed that month and the prophet was more generous then. If someone gives out zakat in Ramadan he may get double reward (the same way he may get double reward if he engages in any good act because of the virtues of Ramadan and not because of the importance of paying zakat in Ramadan.
It is not part of Sunnah or compulsory to pay zakat in Ramadan because neither did the prophet(s) do it nor was it seen in the Quran. I personally know of people who only pay zakat in the month of Ramadan. While some people do it for extra reward, others use Ramadan as an easy basis for calculation of a complete lunar year.
Rights of the legal recipients of Zakat
The recipients of Zakat, according to Qur’an are as follows:
“Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer (the funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to truth); for those in bondage and in debt; and for the wayfarer: (Thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of Knowledge and Wisdom.” (Qur’an 9:60).
They have the rights to accept zakat from a range of people and also at any time of the year.
Best solution for both the givers and receivers of Zakat
One can find only ONE zakat in the Quran which is not associated with the month of Ramadan as some scholars demonstrated. God is Ar-Raheem (merciful) and he is fully aware that the poor people are poor throughout the year and not just in the month of Ramadan.
So the needy should collect their zakat frequently just like the way we collect our allowances from office and not just once a year, that is what the sharia taught. True believers must pay their zakat all year round otherwise the poor and needy will suffer and we as Muslims will be acting not in accordance to the Quran.
Adverts from companies urging people to pay zakat in Ramadan
Some fund raisers actually open a zakat fund in the month of Ramadan persuading people to pay their zakat. They provide worldwide campaigns through various channels to make people give in. There is nothing wrong with this practice, but there should also be a zakat fund throughout the year and not just the month of Ramadan because the needy are not only hungry one month in a year.
There is no hadith that categorically states that zakat should be paid in Ramadan nor is there a hadith that says it shouldn’t be paid. However there is a sound proof that it is good to give sadakat or be more generous in them month of Ramadan. Some people wait specifically for Ramadan to pay zakat and this can cause delay. Zakat is an obligatory charity and should be paid immediately when due. We should keep in mind the duration of a year and certainly not the month of Ramadan regarding when to pay zakat.
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