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Zakat zooms to Rs 100cr

The amount of zakat, an Islamic levy that Muslims give out as charity, has crossed Rs 100 crore in Calcutta this Ramazan, feel religious leaders of the community.

An increase in awareness, the rise in the prices of gold and property and a boost in income have contributed to the rise in the amount of zakat in the city, the leaders say.

“According to my estimates, the total amount of zakat from the city is in excess of Rs 100 crore,” said Maulana Noor-ur-Rahman Barkati, the imam of the Tipu Sultan Mosque.

Zakat refers to a certain percentage of personal wealth that Muslims give out in charity. The Quran clearly lays down the guidelines on the modalities for zakat payment and who should be the beneficiaries.

Paying zakat is a must for those members of the community who have some wealth left after taking care of their family expenses and discounting liabilities. They must give out a 40th (2.5 per cent) of their total wealth.

Though no proper study has ever been conducted in Calcutta to calculate the amount of zakat emanating from Muslims living in the city, members of the community have always been trying to find ways of working out a reasonable estimate.

According to imam Barkati, he arrived at the Rs 100-crore amount on the basis of queries he received on the proper calculation of zakat from some affluent members of the community.

“During the month of Ramazan, many people approached me to clear their doubts on the amount of zakat they should pay. They gave me details of their wealth and I calculated the zakat for them. For many of them, the amount of zakat ran into more than Rs 50 lakh,” Barkati said.

Zakat is also a method for the re-distribution of wealth that helps support the not-so-privileged members of the Islamic community.

“Paying zakat makes one learn how to share what they have with people who are not so privileged to have it. Thousands of children whose parents are not so well-off will be able to wear new clothes on Id just because of zakat,” said Maulana Mohammed Shafique Qasmi, the imam of the Nakhoda mosque.

Fitra, a pay-out to the poorest of the poor to thank the Almighty for one’s life, is also expected to run into crores this year.

Imam Shafique Qasmi said the amount of fitra has been fixed at Rs 33 per person this year. The fitra amount for the entire family is paid by the head of the family before honouring the Id prayers.