Zakaat (alms) is the name of what a believer
returns out of his or her wealth to the neediest of Muslims for the sake
of the Almighty Allah. It is called Zakaat because the word Zakaat is from
Zakaa which means, to increase, purify and bless.
Imam Ibn Hazim said that every Muslim young or old sane or insane needs to cleanse his or her wealth with Zakaat because of generality of the evidence. Anas bin Malik reported that the Messenger of Allah (saas) said: "Trade with the money of the orphan, lest it is eaten up by Zakaat." (At-Tabraani) In another Hadith `Amru bin Shuaib related from his grandfather that the Messenger of Allah said:
"Whoever is entrusted with money of an orphan should trade with it and should not leave it sitting to be used up by charity." (Tirmidhi)
The point of reference in these reports
is that the Messenger (saas) urged the trustee on the estate of people
who due to age or other reasons cannot manage their own financial affairs,
to invest it in a business that will yield a return and make it grow until
they are in a position to do so themselves. For, if proper investment is
not made with an ophan's inheritance, it will be depleted by charity, thus
leaving the orphan with little or nothing.
Although what constitutes nisaab may change from one country to another, the amount that is needed for the basic needs of living in different countries is very similar, because the market place determines the prices, whether it is an official market or a non-official market. In the poorest countries people do without or live below the poverty standard, and that is why many go hungry or without basic essentials.
However, we must realize that Zakaat is an act of worship (ebadah) like Salaat. The element of intention (niyyah) is necessary, and we should not overly rely on state agencies to determine for us the requirements of our religious duty. The so called the "consumption basket" (that is poverty level as determined the social security administration which are updated every fiscal year) may not be the same as what Islam considers minimum Nisaab.
In the industrialized countries, the consumption basket may include items that are not necessarily essential, such as entertainment, extra clothing, variety of food, eating in restaurant or eating at home, owning more than one car as opposed to having three cars in the driveway, drinking water as opposed to juices, eating regular food or special "health" food. This is why I believe it is essential that we do not lose site of the fact that Zakaat is ebadah of wealth, like salaat and fasting. Non Muslims may consider all the things mentioned above as essentials while Muslims will not. Indeed, no Muslims in good standing will attempt to hide behind the label of consumption basket so as to evade Zakaat.
Nisaab eliminates the possibility of injustice or unfair treatment of the Zakaat payer. To suggest that if we do not follow the rules of International Monetary Fund or the arbitrary figures of social security administration or department of agriculture we will be doing injustice to the Zakaat payer is ludicrous.
2) Nisaab must mature, that is the money is not liable for Zakaat unless it has remained a full year in the possession of a person. This is the understanding of the majority of the scholars. Imam Abu Hanifah (raa) said: "What should be considered is the existence of nisaab at the beginning and the end of the Zakaat year set by the payer". It does not matter if the nisaab money increases or decreases during the calendar year, as we will explain later.
This condition does not include farm produce, for it is due on the day it is harvested. Allah (SWT) stated: "... But render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered..." (Al-Qur`an, 6: 141) According to Imam Al-`Abadi, (raa) Zakaat money is of two kinds: one that by its nature can not be invested and Zakaat of this category is due on the day of harvest. This includes all the farm produce that is liable for Zakaat. The other is wealth that can be invested in the hope of a good return, like cash, gold or silver, because the opportunity is there that cash in one's hand can be invested for a good return. This includes currency investment, merchandise and livestock. Their Zakaat is not due until they have matured in one full year.
The proof of this condition is the Hadith
related by Ibn `Umar that the Messenger of Allah (saas) said: "He who acquires
property is not liable for Zakaat on it till a year passes." According
to Ibn Rushd (raa) this is the understanding of the majority of scholars,
including the four rightly guided Khalifahs.
We can deduce from the concept of "yearly maturity" of wealth on which Zakaat is due as encouraging, among other things, saving on the part of the Zakaat payer, and enhances the chances for eradicating poverty, because if the poor receives his rightful share of Zakaat there will be the possibility that he can take Zakaat money and invest it and become a Zakaat payer instead of recipient. This possibility will be lost if he receives few Zakaat dollars every month. To say that the wage earner just brings his check home and spends everything on necessities and lives from check to check with nothing left over means the person is eligible for Zakaat.
Using farm produce as analogous to salary for Zakaat is wrong analogy. As Imam Al-`Abadi said, these are two different categories of money. $2, 500.00 cash can be invested by the person and expect a good return whereas it will be difficult to invest a bushel of corn. It can be traded as a commodity, which is what it is. This why we must know that analogy has rules that must be followed before it is applied. Certainly the jurists are unanimous that earned income, known as almal al-mustafadah, should either be added to existing money and wait until that amount reaches maturity and then give their Zakaat; or if there is no money on hand the time one possesses this money, he or she should wait one full year before assessing it for Zakaat.
Zakaat is one of the five pillars of Islam and a vital element in the religion of Islam. It is the twin sister of Salaat. In Al-Qur`an, Allah (SWT) stated: "So establish regular Prayer and give regular Alms; and obey the Messenger; that you may receive mercy." (Al-Qur`an, 24: 56) Also, "...Establish regular Prayer and give regular Alms, and loan to Allah a beautiful loan...." (Al-Qur`an, 73: 20) "And they have been commanded no more than this: to worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular Prayer and to practice regular charity; and that is the religion right and straight." (Al-Qur`an, 98: 5)
In a famous Hadith reported by `Umar Bin Khattab (raa), the Messenger of Allah (saas) responded to Jibreel (as) and said: "... Islam is to testify that there is no deity but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to perform the prayer, to pay Zakaat, to observe fasting in Ramadan, and to make pilgrimage to the house of Allah if you are able to do os...." (Bukhari, Muslim)
There is consensus among Muslim scholars that it is mandatory on every believer who is financially able. Whoever knowingly denies this obligation, while he possesses the minimum amount, would be considered a disbeliever and a renegade from Islam. Whoever is stingy, or tries to cheat, is considered among the wrongdoers. Zakaat is mandatory on four categories of items.
1. Farm produce of seeds and fruits, such as wheat, barley, rice, dates, raisins, cocoa, pistachios, coffee, cashews. Allah (SWT) stated: "O you who believe, give of the good things which you have (honorably) earned, and of the fruits of the earth which We have produced for you..." (Al-Qur`an, 2: 267) Also: "... But render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered..." (Al-Qur`an, 6: 141) Thus, these two verses and many others indicate that Zakaat is due on farm products that reached the minimum amount (nisaab). No farm product is liable for Zakaat unless it is a product that is considered as food and can be stocked or saved naturally without refrigeration. If the produce is perishable fruit, such as grapes, there is no Zakaat. But if one sells them they will pay their Zakaat on the profit earned when it matures.
The nisaab is 612 kilos, which equals 1,346.40 lb. There is no Zakaat on produce that is less than this amount. If the farm produce or crops grow dependant on rainwater, or without any man's labor or irrigation, Zakaat due is one-tenth of the total. If it is grown by irrigation, then the Zakaat due is half of one-tenth of the total produce. There is no Zakaat on fruits like apples or oranges or vegetables which are perishable and need refrigeration for long storage, but they should be considered as any income if the profit earned from their sale reaches the amount of Zakaat, then Zakaat should be given.
2. Cattle, including camels, cows, sheep and goats, that are freely graze and are raised for trade and production. For Zakaat to be obligatory, the number must reach the nisaab. The nisaab of camels is five, of cows 30, of sheep and goats, 40. By freely grazing is meant the animal goes out to feed without the owner buying or bringing it feed or hay. If it is not a grazing animal, there is no Zakaat in the stock by itself. The stock will, however, be considered as articles of trade, then will be assessed for Zakaat as articles of trade when the profit earned from their sale reaches the amount by itself or in combination with other articles of the trade.
3. Merchandise and goods of trade and commerce. This includes anything that is obtained for the business of buying and selling: land, animals, food provisions, fabric, cars, spare parts, etc. This inventory is evaluated annually and assessed for Zakaat, whether the value is the same as the amount spent on it, more, or less. The owners of grocery stores, like any other business, must evaluate every item and give their Zakaat. Simple bookkeeping of inventory, orders, cash on hand, and credits, that is non-delinquent loans, will give one a good picture of the zakaatable assets. But if one is unable to account for everything in the store or shop, he should assess it according to his ability until he is sure that his conscience is clear.
There is no Zakaat on what is within one's
dwelling or property which includes food, drinks, furniture, houses, animals,
cars, clothes and shoes. The only exception is gold and silver. There is
no Zakaat on assets from rentals or lease, whether they are apartment units,
taxi cabs, etc. That is, there is no Zakaat on the apartment units, buses
or cars for rental like yellow cabs company or trucks for rental or equipments.
But there is Zakaat on the proceeds or incomes from these rental assets
if these assets reach the executable amount, either by themselves or in
combination with other assets.
Indeed, there are enough rules in Zakaat books to cover all types of business activity, be it cash or risk investment. If the business activity is analogous to commerce, it should be assessed the same rate as commerce. To subject the business to a different Zakaat rate of 10%, which is the rate of farm products instead of its correct rate of 2.5%, the rate of commerce, is unfair and unjustified. Besides, there is no proof, even a weak one, to justify this unfair arbitrary taxation. The difference between 2.5% and 10% is high. The Zakaat system is not like a state revenue collection, but Allah's `ebadah. However, if a business person decides to give more than 2.5% after deducting all the expenses including depreciation, Allah (SWT) will accept it from him.
4. Gold and silver, whether used for commerce or jewelry. Allah (SWT) states: "...And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah: announce unto them a most grievous penalty. On the day when heat will be produced out of that (wealth) in the fire of hell, and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks and their backs. This is the (treasure) which you buried for yourselves: taste you, then, the (treasures) you buried." (Al-Qur`an, 9: 34-35). By hoarding is meant refusal to give it in the path of Allah, which includes Zakaat.
In a hadith reported by Abu Hurairah (raa), the Messenger of Allah (saas) said: "For the owner or possessor of gold and silver who does not fulfill its obligation, on the Day of Resurrection it will be cast into sheets of fire and be branded on his forehead, side and back. Whenever it cools it is to be repeated for him in a day whose length is the length of fifty thousand years, until the judgement is rendered among the people." (Muslim). By its obligation is meant assessing it for Zakaat. In another version: "No possessor of a treasure who does not give its Zakaat."
Zakaat is mandatory in gold and silver, irrespective of its form: in coins, raw or nugget, or jewelry for wearing, or for rent, because of the generality of evidence of Zakaat without any detail. In a report by Abdullah bin `Amr bin `Aas (raa), he related that a woman came to the Messenger of Allah with her daughter. On the daughter's wrist were two heavy gold bracelets. The Messenger asked her, "Do you pay Zakaat on this?" She replied, "No." The Messenger said: "Would it please you that Allah will encircle you with two bracelets of fire?" The reporter commented that she took them off and threw them down in front of the Messenger, and said: "They are for Allah and his Messenger." (Ahmed, Tirmidhi).
The Messenger's wife reported that: "The Messenger entered into my house and saw in my hand a huge ring made of silver, so he asked, `What is this?' I replied, `I made them to beautify myself for you, O Messenger of Allah.' He inquired, `Do you give their Zakaat?' I said, `No,' or `Allah willing.' He said: `It will suffice you in the hellfire.'" (Abu Dawuud).
Zakaat is due on gold when it reaches the amount of (nisaab), which is 20 Dinaar. According to a hadith, the Messenger said: "No Zakaat on you is due until it reaches 20 dinaar." (Abu Dawud) The Islamic dinaar (currency) is one mithqal, a unit of weight which weighs four and one quarter of a gram. Thus, the nisaab is 85 grams. This is equal to $30.00 US dollars.
Similarly, there is no Zakaat on silver
until it reaches five oqiyah, because the Messenger said: "There
is no Zakaat on less then five oqiyah." (Muslim/Bukhari) Oqiyah
is equal to forty Islamic dirhams. The nisaab is 200 dirhams. One
dirham is equivalent to 595 grams. The zakaatable amount in both the gold
and silver is a quarter of a tenth only.
Silver should be used as a standard to assess Zakaat annually, not paper currency, even if the currency is hard currency like the US dollar, Yen and Deutch Mark or Pound Sterling. Because these currencies are backed by political decisions that may not have anything to do with the economy, the value and strength of this paper money depends largely on all haram usury system of interest rates.
Thus, the Zakaat payer should look up in the local newspaper's financial or business section for the price of silver which is currently about $3.82. per ounce. The nisaab, then, is 596 x .04=28.80 ounce multiplied by$3.82= 90.91. therefore. The nisaab is about $100.00, as of December 17, 1991.
The nisaab should be based on the market value of the currency. If the money is hard currency, there will be no problem, but if the money is a non-marketable currency, like most currencies in the third world countries, the nisaab should be based on the black market, which realistically reflects the value of the currency on the money market. In any case, the silver rate should be used to assess the Zakaat.
If the nisaab is determined, the zakaatable amount is 2.5%, or .025 multiplied by the amount. For instance, if the zakaatable amount is $56,000.00 it will be 56,000. x .025 = $1,400.00.
Zakaat is due on gold, silver, and or paper currency, whether it is cash in hand or credit in the hands of borrowers. Zakaat is due on debts or cost of merchandize or rental money. If the borrower is a wealthy person that you know will pay back the debt, the lender (that is Halaal lending free of usury) should include that money in the assessment and give its Zakaat. However, one can delay Zakaat on a loan until he receives payment, then return its Zakaat for the past years that he was unable to assess for Zakaat. If the borrower is poor or is refusing to pay the debt, there will be no Zakaat on the money until the lender receives the money. Then he will assess it for Zakaat of one past due year, but there will be no Zakaat in the years before that.
There is no Zakaat on precious stones such
as diamonds, or metals such uranium, regardless of their value. Gold and
silver, of course are assessed for Zakaat. However, if a person possesses
any of these stones or metals, he should give their Zakaat like any other
articles of trade. If a person possesses diamonds or any other precious
stones as an edge against inflation or for ornaments, there will no Zakaat
b) The best way is to set a day or a month,
preferably Ramadan, for your annual Zakaat return calendar, say Ramadan
1st, 1412. One year later on the same day Ramadan, 1413, your Zakaat is
due and payable. Whatever is in the savings is due for Zakaat, regardless
of whether all the amount in the savings reaches a year or not. For instance:
if you have $20,000.00 in the savings account on the 1st of Ramadan, 1412
and one year later by the 1st of Ramadan, 1413 there is $50, 000.00, your
Zakaat will be assessed for $50,000.00, that is: $50.000.00 x .025= $1,250.00.
If, on the other hand, by the 1st of Ramadan, 1413 the amount in the savings
is $15,000.00, your Zakaat will be for the amount in the savings, that
is $15,000.00 x .025= $375.00. This method is the best because it is easy
to assess, meets one's obligation and relieve one's conscience.
"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; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom." (Al-Qur`an, 9: 60) In this verse Allah enumerated the people who deserve this divine welfare, and they are as follows:
The poor and the needy. These are individuals, and those under their care, to live on. By the poor and needy is meant the people whose income or salaries, or whatever material goods they have, fall short of the cost of living in a given environment and economy. The poor and the needy should be given what will suffice them and their families for one full year. The needy who want to get married and have no means should be given enough for this purpose, and so, too, the student who needs money for tuition, rent, food, and books. The working poor should be given supplementary Zakaat. But the wealthy, or any person with enough income to live on should not be given Zakaat, even if they asked for it. Instead, they should be warned and admonished for asking for what does not belong to them.
In a hadith reported by Abdullah bin `Umar, the Messenger of Allah (saas) stated: "A man keeps on asking others for something till he comes on the day of Resurrection without any piece of flesh on his face." (Bukhari/Muslim). This hadith indicates a humiliating appearance before Allah (SWT) that awaits a person who asks illegally.
Some said: this hadith implies Allah will punish a person with the very limb, the face, that he used to impress on others to give him their money unlawfully.
In another hadith reported by Abu Hurairah, the Messenger of Allah said: "Whoever asks people for their money so as to get rich, he is asking for flames of fire. It is up to him to ask for more or less (he should beware)." (Muslim) This hadith indicates the severity of the punishment, the more one asks the more punishment, the less one asks the less the punishment.
In another hadith, reported by Hakeem bin Hizaam said: I begged the Messenger of Allah and he gave me. I begged again, and he gave me. I begged again and he gave me. He then said: "This money is green and sweet; he who receives it from people with a cheerful heart, Allah will bless him in it; he who receives it, with an avaricious mind would not be blessed in it. He will be like the person who eats without being satisfied; and the upper hand is better than the lower hand" (Muslim)
This hadith gave an analogy between money and green, ripened fruit that people love to eat. Thus, it indicates that both are greatly loved but easily finished. For money that is easy come easy go, one must be careful about the punishment that awaits the illegal eater. If a person asks for Zakaat and there are no signs of wealth, and he does not know that he should not ask, or a person who is well and able, who can work, but does not; if these people do not know that it is not permissible for them to ask, it may be given anyway.
In a hadith reported by Ahmed, Abu Dawud, and Nasa'e, two men came to the Messenger of Allah (saas) and asked for Zakaat. He looked at them closely and found them strong and able, he said, "If you want I will give you. But you should know that the wealthy or an able person who can work has no share in Zakaat" (Ahmad)
Those who administer the Zakaat department, assigning people for collecting, bookkeeping, making lists of people eligible for Zakaat, and a financial calendar. These people will receive Zakaat as compensation for their work, even if they are wealthy. This does not include a person who works as an agent for one or two wealthy people to take Zakaat for himself. They should donate their time for Zakaat disbursement and do it with honesty and truthfulness. If they can not, they should be paid or rewarded for their time. In a hadith related by Abu Musa Al-Ashi`ari (raa), the Messenger of Allah said: "A trustworthy Muslim executor is the one who executes completely what has been entrusted to him of Zakaat money in good faith." (Bukhari)
That is, he will give the Zakaat money to any of the eligible recipients of Zakaat. He should carry on the duty voluntarily, but if he can not distribute the money without being paid, the Zakaat payer should pay him for his work. The payment for the service of distributing Zakaat should not come out of Zakaat money.
The new converts to Islam whose hearts we want to harmonize into the fold of Islam, either because their faith is weak or we are afraid of their being harmed, should be given Zakaat to strengthen their Iman or until we no longer fear their harm.
The bonds person who has contracted with his master to buy himself out of bondage deserve Zakaat and should be given enough to pay off their debt to the master and be freed themselves; similarly, Muslim prisoners of war if their freedom is tied to monetary payment, deserve Zakaat sufficient enough to secure their release.
On the other hand, if a pearson accidently killed someone and have no means to pay off the blood money, he should be helped from Zakaat funds.
The people in debt are of two kinds:
(A) The guarantor, who takes the responsibility of someone else's debt so as to reconcile the two warring parties, to extinguish the fire of fitnah between them. If the person requests Zakaat money to pay off this debt he should be given it, which will encourage him to continue in this noble cause.
In a hadith reported by Qubaysah Al-Hilaaly (raa), he said I was under debt (hamaalah) and I came to the Messenger (saas) and begged him to help me pay it off. The Messenger told him: "Wait until we receive charity, so we will command that it be given to you." However, the Messenger stated: "O Qubaysah, begging is not permitted except for one of three categories of people:
A man who has incurred debt (as guarantor to reconcile blood wit) for him begging is permissible till he pays that off, after which he must stop it; a man whose property has been destroyed by calamity which has smitten him; for him begging is permissible till he gets what will support life or will provide him reasonable subsistence; and a man who has been smitten by poverty, the genuineness of which should be confirmed by three knowledgeable members of his people; for him begging is permissible till he gets what will support him, or will provide him subsistence. Besides these three, Qubaysah, begging is forbidden for every other persons, and one who engages in such consumes that which is forbidden." (Muslim)
(B) Whoever incurs debt and has no money to pay it back will be given from Zakaat to help pay his debt, whether the amount is large or small; or his creditor should be paid directly on his behalf, so long as it is paid off.
Zakaat can be given in the path of Allah. By this is meant to finance a Jihad effort in the path of Allah, not for Jihad for other reasons. The fighter (mujahid) will be given as salary what will be enough for him. If he needs to buy arms or some other supplies related to the war effort, Zakaat money should be used provided the effort is to raise the banner of Islam.
The wayfarer. This is the traveller who in a strange land runs out of money. He or she deserves Zakaat, enough money to take him back to his country, even if he is wealthy and can find someone to loan him the money. On his part, he should take with him on his trip sufficient money, if he is wealthy, so that he will not need Zakaat. Zakaat money can not be used to pay off other obligations, such as giving Zakaat money to people you are obligated to take care of by law; or Zakaat money can not be used to pay for hotel and food expenses.
It is, however, permissible to give Zakaat to a wife or family member, provided it is not part of their daily living expense money, but is needed to pay off a debt for one's wife if she can not pay it. So is the case for one's parents if they can not pay their debt.
Zakaat money may be given to members of the family for their expenses if one is not obligated to take care of them financially. The wife can pay off a debt of her husband with Zakaat money, because he may be among the eight eligible recipients and she is not obligated to spend on him as he is on her.
The eight eligible recipients of Zakaat can be denied their right to Zakaat without proof from Al-Qur`an or Sunnah. In a hadith reported by Ibn Mas`ud, his wife Zaynab heard the Messenger of Allah order women to give Zakaat, so she asked the Messenger (saas): " O Messenger of Allah, you commanded us to give Zakaat, and I have jewelry that I wanted to assess for Zakaat, but my husband Abdullah bin Mas`ud claimed that his son deserves it more than anyone." The Messenger replied: Your husband Ibn Mas`ud is right. Your son deserves your charity more than anyone." In another hadith reported by Salman bin `Aamir, he said the Messenger of Allah said: " Charity to the poor is only charity, but charity to the rest of kind is charity and maintenance of relations (sillah)." (Nisaee)
No loan should be written off as Zakaat because Zakaat is taken and given. Allah (SWT) said: "Of their goods take alms...." (Al-Qur`an, 9: 103) And in a Hadith the Messenger has been reported as saying: "Allah has mandated on you Zakaat to be taken from the wealthy and to be given to the poor." Thus, writing off debt is not taken. For instance, If you loan a person money, you can not write off that loan as a Zakaat. However, it could be written off as sadaqah charity. Furthermore, loan, delinquent or not, is considered an absent money, therefore, it should not be transacted in Zakaat. for Zakaat is assessed only in cash in hand. Besides, debt money is valued less than cash in the hand, and using that money for alms is like exchanging good money for bad.
The assessor of alms should try to give his Zakaat to an eligible person, but if he makes a mistake and gives it to an ineligible person it is accepted. In a hadith related by Abu Hurairah, he said the Messenger said:
"A man expressed his intention to give
charity, so he came with his charity and placed it in the hand of an adulteress.
In the morning the people were talking and saying charity was given to
an adulteress last night. The donor said: O Allah, to thee be the Praise
- charity to an adulteress! He then again expressed his intention to give
charity, so he went out with it and placed it in the hand of a rich person.
In the morning the people were talking and saying charity was given to
a rich person. The donor said, O Allah to You be the praise - charity to
a rich man! He then expressed his intention to give charity, so he went
out with his charity and placed it in the hand of a thief. In the morning
the people were talking and saying charity to the thief. So the man said,
O Allah to You be the praise (what a misfortune that charity has been given)
to the adulteress, the rich and the thief! Then someone came to him and
told him your charity has been accepted. As for the adulteress the charity
might become the means whereby she might restrain from fornication. The
rich man might perhaps learn a lesson and spend from what Allah has given
him, and the thief might thereby restrain from committing theft. (Muslim/