Fiqh As-Sunnah
Zakah "giving Alms"

Zakah on Wealth Extracted from the Sea:
Most scholars stipulate that zakah is not payable on anything extracted from the sea, such as pearls, corals, chrysalite, cachalot's ambergris, fish, and so on. There is, however, a report from Ahmad that if the amount extracted reaches a nisab, then zakah is due on it. Abu Yusuf agrees with him in the case of pearls and cachalot's ambergris. Ibn 'Abbas holds that there is no zakah of cachalot, beacause it is an object thrown out by the sea. Jabir said that there is no zakah on cachalot, but that it is a free spoil for anyone who finds it.

Acquiring Property Through Profit or Increase:
When a person acquires property and it stays in his possession for a year and constitutes a nisab, and he has no other property or he has similar property which has not reached a nisab except when the acquired property has been added to it, then the year hawl of zakah becomes applicable to it from the time of its acquisition. The zakah will be payable at the completion of the hawl. In such a case, the acquired property may be classified in any of the following categories:

1. The acquired holdings increase in value either by profits from trade or by an increase in animal production. These kinds of holdings qualify themselves for the application of the hawl and zakah. For the individual whose merchandise or animals constitute a nisab and whose business also makes a profit or whose animals reproduce during the course of the hawl, he should count the original and additional property as one for the purpose of zakah. There is no dispute about this among scholars.

2. As for the acquired property which falls under the same category as the attained nisab but is not derived or generated from it--that is, it was acquired through purchase, gift, or inheritance-- Abu Hanifah holds that this may be combined with the nisab in order to become a part of it with regard to the hawl and payment of zakah. Thus, the principal property and the profits are collectively taxable.

Ash-Shaf'i and Ahmad suggest that newly acquired property be combined with the original one for the purpose of attaining a nisab and that a new hawl has to be assumed for it--whether the original consists of cash or animals. For example, if someone has 200 dirhams and manages to acquire another 200 dirhams during the year, he should pay zakah on both at the completion of the hawl which will begin to roll at the acquisition of new property. Malik's opinion is like that of Abu Hanifah's concerning animals but like Ahmad's in regard to gold and silver.

3. The acquired holdings are not of the same kind that one already possesses. As such, they cannot be combined with the original either for the nisab or for the year count (hawl). If, however, the acquired holdings by themselves reach a nisab, their year count will be calculated independently, and the owner will pay their zakah at the completion of the hawl. In the absence of these conditions, nothing is applicable to these holdings. This is the opinion of the majority of scholars.

Zakah ie the Responsibility of the Owner, Not the Holdings Themselves:
The Hanafiyyah, the Malikiyyah, and a report from ash-Shaf'i and Ahmad propose that it is the property which owes zakah. The second opinion attributed to ash-Shaf'i and Ahmad is that zakah is the responsibility of the owner, not the property. The difference between the two opinions is obvious: For example, someone had 200 dirhams and did not pay zakah on the sum for two years. The opinion which says that zakah is due on the property itself means that the amount due is for one year only since it decreased by five dirhams, which was the amount due for zakah at the end of the first year. The second opinion, that zakah is the responsibility of the owner, means that he should pay zakah twice, one for each year, as zakah is the responsibility of the owner and is not affected by the decrease of the nisab.

Ibn Hazm favors the view that it is the owner's responsibility. There has been no difference of opinion, he says, among the Muslims since the time of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, down to his time as to the applicability of zakah on wheat, barley, dates, silver, gold, camels, cattle, and sheep. Concerning payment of zakah from a different lot of wheat, barley, dates, gold, silver, camels, cattle, and sheep, he says it does not matter whether one pays it from the same lot, from a different one in one's possession, or from a lot that may be bought, granted as a gift, or borrowed.

The conviction that the payment of zakah is the owner's responsibility and is not necessarily that of the property itself is a sound principle, for if it becomes due on the property itself, the owner will not be permitted to make payment from a different lot. It is similar to the case of one partner being prevented from giving his money to his copartner from a source other than the one involved in their partnership--unless the partners approve of it and it does not violate the conditions of the transaction between them. Furthermore, if zakah has to be applied to the property itself, only two situations can arise. First, zakah is payable on all parts of that property and is applicable to any individual amount of it, without individual specification. Second, if it is applicable to every part of it, it is impermissible to sell from any herd or grain since zakah collectors in this case would become partners. Thus, the proprietor is not allowed to take anything from it. This is void without any dispute. Furthermore, it would become obligatory upon him to specify exactly the price of the sheep which he desires to take out, just as is done in partnerships. If zakah is due on any part of it other than the property itself, it becomes void. This holds true in such a case since he does not know what he might sell or whether he is taking what is due for the sadaqah collectors. This, in turn, backs up the above.

Loss of the Holdings after Zakah is Due:
Once zakah becomes payable on the holdings either because of the completion of a year or harvest time, and the holdings or part of them are lost, the owner still has to pay it. Whether the loss occured owing to negligence or not does not matter.

This is the opinion of Ibn Hazm and the better opinion of the Hanbaliyyah. Abu Hanifah holds that it vitiates the payment of zakah if all the property perishes without the owner's role in its destruction. When part of it perishes, the perished portion is not subject to zakah. This is in accordance with the rule that zakah is associated with the property itself. However, when the property is deliberately destroyed by the owner, zakah has to be paid. Ash-Shaf'i, alHassan ibn Salih, Ishaq, Abu Thaur, and Ibn al-Mundhir hold that if the nisab perishes before zakah is paid, then the owner owes nothing. However, if it perishes subsequent to the accumulation of the nisab, the owner has to pay it. Ibn Qudamah supports this view and says it vitiates the payment of zakah if the property perishes without any negligence on the part of the owner. This is because it is obligatory for the sake of beneficence, which presupposes the existence of the property--and not with the purpose of impoverishing the payers of zakah.

Negligence in this context implies that the owner had accumulated the nisab and thus it was possible for him to pay zakah, but he did not and the property perished. On the contrary, if he did not have the nisab, or the holdings were not in his possession, or they were to be purchased and he could not, then this does not constitute an act of negligence.

Likewise, if it is presumed that the obligation to pay zakah remains even after the holdings are lost, and the owner has the means to pay it, then he must do so. Otherwise, he should be granted a respite in order to fulfill his obligation to pay zakah. This is akin to a debt one owes to someone but the debt owed to Allah should be considered more important.

The Loss of Zakah After it is Set Aside:
When a person sets aside zakah for distribution among the poor and all of it or some of it is lost, he must repay it because it is still his responsibility.

Ibn Hazm says: "We received a narration from Ibn Abi Shaibah on the authority of Hafs ibn Ghayath, Jarir, al-Mu'tamir ibn Sulaiman at-Taymi, Zaid ibn al-Hubab, and 'Abdulwahhab ibn 'Ata; also from Hafs, who narrated on the authority of Hisham ibn Hassan from al-Hassan al-Basri; Jarir who reported, on the authority of alMughirah from his companions; and al-Mu'tamir who reported from Mu'amar from Hammad; and Zaid who reported from Shu'bah from al-Hakam; and 'Abdulwahhab who reported on the authority of Ibn Abi 'Urubah from Hammad from Ibrahim an-Nakha'i that whoever sets aside zakah from his property and then it is lost, his obligation to pay zakah still remains to be discharged, and he must set it aside again."

There exists, however, another opinion on it: "We received a narration on the authority of 'Ata' that the obligation will be discharged [if set aside and lost]," says Ibn Hazm.

Delaying of Zakah (Payment) Does Not Void it:
Ash-Shaf'i holds that anyone who does not pay zakah for a number of years must pay it all together. Whether or not he is aware of its obligation or he happens to be in a Muslim or non-Muslim land, makes no difference. Based on the opinion of Malik, ash-Shaf'i and Abu Thaur, Ibn al-Mundhir says: "When unjust people rule a country and the people of that country do not pay their zakah for a number of years, then their new leader should take it from them."

The Payment of the Value Instead of Paying the Item Itself:
It is not permissible to pay the value instead of the item itself, except in the case of non-existence, for zakah is an act of worship which can only be fulfilled according to the specified manner, with the rich sharing their wealth with the poor Mu'adh reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, sent him to Yemen and told him: "Take grain from grain, sheep from sheep, camels from camels, and cows from cows." This hadith is narrated by Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, al-Baihaqi, and al-Hakim. It should be noted that there is an interruption in the chain of this hadith, since 'Ata' did not hear it from Mu'adh.

Disapproving of substitution, ash-Shaukani says: "The truth of the matter is that zakah is obligatory on the item itself and should not be substituted for its value except where there is a valid excuse." Abu Hanifah permits the acceptance of the value whether the individual owing could pay it in the items itself or not because zakah is the right of the poor, and he believed that it made no difference whether it was paid in the item or in something else of equal value. AlBukhari reports, with a firm statement, that Mu'adh asked the people of Yemen to give him either goods or clothes of silk or garments as zakah instead of barley and corn because it was more convenient for them. The companions of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, were also given the choice in Madinah.

Zakah on Shared Property:
When holdings are shared between two or more partners, zakah is not obligatory on either one until all of them attain a nisab individually. This is the opinion of most scholars. This does not include the combination of animals, which has been discussed earlier.

Evading the Payment of Zakah:
The opinion of Malik, al-Auza'i, Ishaq, Ahmad, and Abu 'Ubaid is that whoever possesses a nisab of any kind of property and then sells it before the completion of the year hawl, or gives it away as a gift, or damages part of it with the intention of avoiding its zakah, he still must pay its zakah. If he engages himself in any of the preceding acts at a time when his obligation to pay zakah is about to mature, he will be forced to pay it. If, however, any of the preceding acts happen at the beginning of the hawl, this will not constitute an evasion, and he will be (legally) free from his obligation to pay zakah.

Abu Hanifah and ash-Shaf'i hold that since the amount decreased before the end of the hawl, zakah will not be paid on it. He would still be considered a wrongdoer and disobedient to Allah for attempting to escape it. The early Muslims based their rationale on the 'ayahs in which Allah, the Exalted One, says: "Lo! We have tried them as We tried the owners of the garden when they vowed they would pluck its fruit the next morning, and made no reservation [for the will of Allah]. Then a visitation from your Lord came upon it while they were asleep. So the garden became a dark and desolate spot in the morning, as if it were plucked" [alMulk 17-20]. Allah punished those people for avoiding their obligation to the poor.

Zakah, as such, will still be due and the person has to pay it because his intention was to deprive the poor of their share in his wealth. This would be similar to the case of a man who divorces his wife during his terminal illness. His evil intention calls for punishment as a redemptive act. Another case of a similar nature would be that of a person who kills his benefactor so that he could have his inheritance. In that case, Allah punishes him by depriving him of his inheritance.

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