Zakat charity
File photograph of aid being delivered by the Emirates Red Crescent. Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: As the month of Ramadan draws to a close, many Muslims across the world may be trying to calculate the amount of Zakat – a form of obligatory charity or almsgiving in Islam – they are supposed to be paying. But what exactly is Zakat? Who is obligated to pay it? And how is it calculated?

Gulf News spoke with Dr Mohammed Eyada Alkobaisi, Grand Mufti, Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai, who provided a detailed breakdown of this form of charity.

Who is required to give Zakat?

There are two types of Zakat in Islam – Zakat-al-maal, which is the Zakat on a person’s wealth, and Zakat-al-fitr, which is specifically linked to Ramadan. While Zakat-al-maal varies, based on a person’s wealth, the amount for Zakat-al-fitr is specific, with every Muslim required to give the minimal amount before Eid al Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.

For Zakat-al-maal, however, you would need to have a minimum amount of wealth, upon which Zakat is obligatory. It is called ‘Nisaab’.

“The Nisaab for money was set by Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] at the value of 85g of 24 carat gold, which is about Dh18,000 nowadays,” Dr Alkobaisi said.

So, if a Muslim’s overall wealth is Dh18,000 and above, they would be obligated to pay Zakat.

Dh 18,000

The minimum amount of overall wealth (Nisaab) one should have, to pay Zakat on it.

When do I need to pay Zakat?

Zakat is due once every Hijri year, which is shorter than the solar calendar. According to Dr Alkobaisi, it becomes due on the day a person’s wealth reaches the Nisaab.

“The day the money and savings of a person reach the Nisaab, that will be his or her Zakat due date, and he or she has to pay Zakat after one Hijri year, on the same date,” he said.

So, if your overall wealth reached the Nisaab on the 10th day of Ramadan, that is when the Zakat would be due. It would be due again on the 10th day of Ramadan the following year.

[...] It is the Sunnah [practice] of the Messenger [PBUH] to practise charitable activities all year round, and to increase that to the maximum in the month of Ramadan

- Dr Mohammed Eyada Alkobaisi, Grand Mufti, Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai

How is Zakat calculated?

Zakat is calculated differently depending on the form of earnings. Here is how you calculate the Zakat based on your salary, gold jewellery as well as any property you may own:

Zakat on my salary or bank savings

The calculation for Zakat is not based on one’s salary amount. Rather, it looks at the amount of money you have with you on the Zakat due date.

“Zakat is not linked with the deposited salaries, but with amount of money that was not spent. All the money that has already been spent throughout the year is not included in the calculation of Zakat,” Dr Alkobaisi said.

“When the Zakat due date comes, the person has to give Zakat on all the money that is still with him or her on that day, including the money recently received,” he added.

Zakat calculator

The amount of Zakat due on money is 2.5 per cent, every Hijri year.

“The easiest way to calculate that percentage is to take the amount you have with you and divide that by 40, and the result will be the total zakat to be given to the deserving people such as the poor and needy,” Dr Alkobaisi said.

For example, if a person has Dh46,000 on the Zakat due date, then the Zakat to be paid is Dh1,150 (Dh46,000 ÷ 40 = Dh1,150 ).

2.5 %

The amount of Zakat due on money

How to calculate Zakat on gold?

How much gold should I be in possession of, for Zakat to be paid on it? Is it based on weight or value? Dr Alkobaisi said that for the Nisaab on gold, there was a difference of opinion among Islamic scholars.

“If the gold of a woman is her personal jewellery and it is in normal quantities like her peers, then there is no Zakat on that jewelry, according to the majority of scholars. If the gold is her personal jewellery but it is more than a normal quantity for her, then it is better to pay Zakat on the amount above the normal use, as some scholars mention that. The normal quantity of gold for a woman differs according to different societies, and social and financial status of the woman and her husband or family,” Dr Alkobaisi said.

The scholar Imam Abu Hanifa, however, had a different opinion.

“He stated that a woman has to pay Zakat for gold if it reaches or exceeds 85g, even if it is her personal jewellery. This is a strong and more careful opinion,” he said.

As for paying the Zakat on that jewellery, the easiest way to calculate is to consider the current value of all that gold, and give 2.5 per cent of it as Zakat, according to Dr Alkobaisi.

“She can give Zakat from the gold itself, or from money, or sell some of the gold and pay the due Zakat,” he added.

85 g

Minimum weight of gold you should own, for Zakat to be due to be paid, according to Imam Abu Hanifa. However, scholars have differing opinions on Zakat on gold.

If I own property, how should I calculate zakat?

Owning property does not necessarily make Zakat obligatory on a person. The eligibility, in fact, depends on how the property is being used, according to Dr Alkobaisi.

“If the property is for personal use, then there is no Zakat on that property. If the property is for rental purposes, then there is no Zakat on the value of that property, but there is Zakat on the rental income, if it reaches the Nisaab of Zakat by itself, or with the other money that the person has. Any part of the rental income that is spent within the year is not included in the calculation of Zakat, such as money spent on maintenance, payment of debt, or expenses.

“On the other hand, Zakat needs to be paid on property for real estate trading, and the due Zakat is 2.5 per cent. The calculation is done according to the market value of that property on the Zakat due date.”

I have taken a heavy loan. Do I still need to pay Zakat?

What happens in case a person has a loan that he or she needs to pay off? Does the debt affect their Nisaab or overall wealth calculation, which is necessary to pay Zakat?

According to Dr Alkobaisi, there is a difference of opinion among Islamic scholars regarding Zakat on a person in debt, and the topic is quite detailed. However, he summarised the conclusions of the major schools of thought in Islam.

“The Shafie school of jurisprudence opine that being in debt does not negate Zakat and the debt is not deducted from the Zakat, whether the debt is due, delayed or in installments. The Maliki scholars opine that the debt is deducted from the Zakat only if there was no cover for the debt from other extra assets or personal belongings.

“Some scholars opine that the debt is to be deducted from the Zakat. However, most scholars who allow the debt amount to be deducted from the Zakat put a condition that the person should not have any other money to pay off that debt. If a person has other money beyond his basic needs, such as extra cars, houses, lands or furniture beyond the basic needs, then he should put the value of this extra money against the debt, and then give zakat on the remaining amount. If the extra assets or personal belongings beyond basic needs do not cover up the whole debt, then the amount that they do not cover is deducted from the Zakat, and then they should give zakat on all the remaining amount,” he said.

Picture used for illustrative purposes only.

Is it a long-term loan?

Another factor to consider is whether you have a short-term loan or a long-term loan.

“For long-term debts that are more than a year, you may deduct the current debt that is due for payment before the Zakat due date, and then give the Zakat for the remaining money and possessions with you, if it reaches the Nisaab. It seems that the Shafie opinion is more appropriate, as the future debt is not due yet. Thus, the money with you is still your money and you can do with it whatever you want. Moreover, most long-term debts are guaranteed by salaries or mortgaged by other possessions, and these debts are generally insured and waived in case of death or disability. Accordingly, you need to pay Zakat on all the money you have with you on the zakat due date, excluding unpaid due installments of the loan, if any,” he said.

You need to pay Zakat on all the money you have with you on the zakat due date, excluding unpaid due installments of the loan, if any.

- Dr Mohammed Eyada Alkobaisi, Grand Mufti, Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai

Need help calculating your Zakat? Call this number for help

While Zakat on gold, monetary savings or property may be the most common calculations people need to make, there are other categories of Zakat, like Zakat on market shares, livestock, crops and fruits or precious minerals and ores.

“We would like to direct readers to contact our fatwa service on our toll-free number 800 600, which is provided all days of the week during working hours and after hours,” Dr Alkobaisi said.

The UAE Zakat Fund – an online Zakat calculator

The UAE also has a Zakat Fund, which was established by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the UAE.

The Fund’s website provides an online Zakat calculator, which helps you calculate the Zakat you need to pay on your money, gold, silver and other forms of wealth. To access the calculator, visit:

Who can receive Zakat?

According to Dr Alkobaisi, the distribution of Zakat, too, has specific guidelines that need to be met, as based on Chapter 9, Verse 60 in the Quran.

“Verily, 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 those in debt; and in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom” – Quran, Chapter 9, Verse 60.

Dr Al Kobaisi said that this was further emphasised by Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] when a person came asking for charity from Zakat, and the Messenger [PBUH] explained to him by saying: “Verily, Allah did not accept the ruling of a Prophet or another in Sadaqah [Zakat], till He Himself ruled it, and made it eight parts. If you are one of these eight parts, I will give you.” [Reported in the Hadith collection of Abu Dawood].

“That is why, it is not permissible to give from Zakat to any other groups or uses, except one of these eight categories,” Dr Alkobaisi said.

Where and how can I pay Zakat?

Various registered charities in the UAE offer people the chance to donate their Zakat money through kiosks at malls, at their office locations, through text messages, bank transfers or online payment through cards.

“If you do not know deserving people, then you should give the amount to the authorised charity organisations in your locality, under their Zakat account, and they will give it to deserving people on your behalf,” Dr Alkobaisi said.

These are the registered charities in the UAE, where you can pay Zakat money online:

UAE Zakat Fund

800 8222

Pay online:

Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD)

800 600



Pay online:

Emirates Red Crescent Authority

800 733



Pay online: Visit and select the option for paying Zakat

Dar Al Ber Society

800 79

Whatsapp: 052 6155550

Pay online:

Beit Al Khair Society

800 22554


Pay online:

Human Appeal International

800 5 666

Pay online:

Pay Zakat through Dubai Now

You can also pay your Zakat amount through the Dubai Now app, by selecting the ‘Donations’ service.

Zakat-al-fitr – ‘the largest collective charity in the world’

Apart from Zakat-al-maal, which is the Zakat on a person’s wealth, there is also Zakat-al-fitr, which is specifically linked to Ramadan.

“Zakat-al-fitr is to be given out at the end of Ramadan, on behalf of every Muslim, young and old. Basically, it has to be given out from storable stable food, such as rice or grains, and some scholars allow it to be given out as money, which comes to about Dh20 to Dh25 per person, making it the largest collective charity in the world, as billions has to be given out in charity in the span of a day or two, leaving no person needy on the day of Eid,” Dr Alkobaisi said.

How Zakat is different from other forms of charity

While Zakat has specific calculations and requirements for who it can be paid to, there is no specific restriction when it comes to general acts of charity and kindness – called Sadaqah in Islam.

“It is not restricted to giving money, and any beneficial help or support to all human beings is in fact a charity,” Dr Alkobaisi said.

While Zakat is only obligated on those who are at a certain position of wealth, Sadaqah, in fact, is essential for every Muslim to give, according to Dr Alkobaisi.

He quoted the following hadith from Prophet Muhammad [PBUH], reported in the hadith collection of Al Bukhari and others:

The Messenger [PBUH] said: “Giving of Sadaqah is essential for every Muslim.”

It was said (to him): “What do you say of him who does not find (the means) to do so?”

He said: “Let him work with both his hands, thus doing benefit to himself and give Sadaqah.”

It was said to him: “What about him who does not have (the means) to do so?”

He said: “Then let him assist the needy, the aggrieved.”

It was said: “What do you say of one who cannot even do this?”

He said: “Then he should enjoin what is noble or reputable or what is good.”

It was said: ‘What about him if he cannot do that?’

The Messenger [PBUH]) said: “He should then abstain from evil or harm, for verily that is Sadaqah on his behalf.”

Dr Alkobaisi said that not only was Sadaqah encouraged in Islam, people were encouraged to give more than just their money, and show kindness to people, animals and all living creatures on Earth.

Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] said: “A person suffered from intense thirst while on a journey, when he found a well. He climbed down into it and drank (water) and then came out and saw a dog lolling its tongue on account of thirst and eating the moistened earth.

The person said: ‘This dog has suffered from thirst as I had suffered from it.’ He climbed down into the well, filled his shoe with water, then caught it in his mouth until he climbed up and made the dog drink it. So, Allah appreciated this act of his and pardoned him.”

Then (the Companions around him) asked: “Allah's Messenger, is there for us a reward even for (serving) such animals?”

He said: “Yes, there is a reward for service to every living creature.”

- Reported in the Hadith collection of Al Bukhari and Muslim

Charity all year round

“I would like to remind myself and all Mulsims that it is the Sunnah [practice] of the Messenger [PBUH] to practise charitable activities all year round, and to increase that to the maximum in the month of Ramadan. Alhamdulillah, nowadays it is easy to practise charity and participate in charitable initiatives from the comfort of your home, via SMS or online, such as the 100 million meals, Give Iftar Safely, and others. May Allah Almighty guide us to be more charitable and to enable us to ease the pain and suffering of needy people. May Allah Almighty protect us and relieve us all from this pandemic and grant speedy recovery to those afflicted and restore their health. Amen,” Dr Alkobaisi said.