Zakat must be given away “on the day of harvest” (6:141). Whenever we receive “net income,” we must set aside 2.5% and give it to the specified recipients – the parents, relatives, orphans, the poor, and the traveling alien, in this order (2:215). The vital importance of Zakat is reflected in God’s law: “My mercy encompasses all things, but I will specify it for the righteous who give Zakat” (7:156).
Zakat must be carefully calculated and given away on a regular basis whenever we receive any income. Government taxes should be deducted, but not other expenses such as debts, mortgages, and living expenses. If one does not know needy persons, he or she may give the Zakat to a mosque or charitable organization with the distinct purpose of helping poor people. Charities given to mosques or hospitals or organizations cannot be considered Zakat.