Zakat, or paying alms, is the third of the Five Pillars of Islam, and refers to spending a fixed portion of our wealth for the poor or needy. The payment of zakat is obligatory for all Muslims. There are two main types of zakat:
- zakat on traffic (zakat-ul-fitr, also known as zakat fitrah in Indonesia), which is a per person payment equivalent to cost of around 2.25 kilograms of the main food of the region (this may be wheat, rice or dates, depending on the place), which is paid during the month of Ramadhan by the head of the family for himself and his dependents to the zakat collector (amil).
- zakat on wealth (zakat-ul-mal, also known as zakat maal or zakat harta in Indonesia), which comprises all other types of zakat, such as on business, savings, income, crops, livestock, gold, etc.
We can come to any of the mosques which has been appointed as a zakat collection centre, and look for the "Pungutan Zakat" sign. Note that the head of the family will have to pay for the zakat, meaning it's best for the father (instead of the mother) to come to pay for the zakat. The signage will lead us to a room where the amil will then collect the zakat money and give us the zakat receipts. We also have to read the niat (intention) script, which is provided by the amil, in Malay (bahasa Melayu).
For this year, the zakat fitrah rate in Singapore is $3.50 per person for normal rate (based on average grade rice price), and $4.50 per person for premium rate (based on superior grade rice price). The zakat fitrah has to be paid before Hari Raya, otherwise the zakat payment will become sadaqah. Therefore, we need to ensure that we pay for the zakat fitrah before Hari Raya, especially for those who intend to celebrate Hari Raya on Monday instead of Tuesday.
Hopefully this article is useful to those who want to pay zakat in Singapore.