Fiqh As-Sunnah
Zakah "giving Alms"

Holdings subject to zakah:
Islam enjoined zakah on crops, fruit, livestock, merchandise, minerals, gold, silver, and treasures.

Zakah on Gold and Silver:
Says Allah concerning zakah on gold and silver: "... As for those who hoard treasures of gold and silver and do not spend them for the sake of Allah--warn them of grievous suffering [in the life to come]" [at-Taubah 34]. Thus, zakah is prescribed for gold and silver--whether they are in the form of coins, ingots, or dust--as long as the amount owned constitutes a nisab, a period of a year has passed, debts are settled, and/or basic needs satisfied from it.

The Nisab of Gold and Its Due:
The minimum of nisab for gold is twenty dinars owned for one year. Its due is a quarter of a tenth, that is, half a dinar. For any amount over twenty dinars, a quarter of a tenth is levied upon it. 'Ali reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: "There is nothing upon you in gold, until it reaches twenty dinars. Thus, if you have twenty dinars at the end of the year, then there is half a dinar levied on it [as zakah]. Any additional amount will be calculated in this manner. There is no zakah on property until it has been owned for one year." This hadith is related by Ahamd, Abu Dawud, and al-Baihaqi. Al-Bukhari grades it authentic and alHafidh verified it.

Zuraiq, the Fazarah clan's protege, reported that 'Umar ibn 'Abdulaziz wrote to him after he became caliph: "Take what passes by you of the commerce of the Muslims--those who trade with their properties--a dinar for each forty dinars. From that which is less than forty, calculate on the lesser amount until it reaches twenty dinars. If you have to take one-third of a dinar, disregard it and do not take anything on it. Afterwards, give them a written release of what you have levied from them until the year expires." This is related by Ibn Abu Shaibah.

Malik says in his al-Muwatta': "The uncontroversial tradition that we have is that the zakah due on twenty dinars is like the zakah due on two hundred dirhams." Twenty dinars are equal to twenty-eight Egyptian dirhams in weight.

The Nisab of Silver and its Due:
There is no zakah on silver until the amount exceeds two hundred dirhams. The amount payable is a quarter of a tenth for any amount. There is no zakah exemption on (silver) coins if they attain a nisab. 'Ali reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: "I exempt you from paying zakah on horses and slaves. Pay, then, zakah on silver, one dirham for each forty dirhams. Zakah is not due on ninety or one hundred dirhams of silver. If it reaches two hundred dirhams, five dirhams are to be paid." This was related by the authors of as-Sunnan (The Traditions). At-Tirmidhi relates: "I asked al-Bukhari if he confirms this hadith. He said: 'It is authentic.' " At-Tirmidhi also says: "Jurists recognize that sadaqah should be taken out of any amount less than five ounces (awaq). One ounce (uqiyyah) equals forty dirhams. Five awaq equal 200 dirhams. Two hundred dirhams equal twenty-seven riyals equal 555 1/2 Egyptian piasters."

Combining Gold and Silver:
If a person owns gold and silver, but neither of them on its own constitutes a nisab, he should not combine the two in order to obtain a nisab. This is because they are not of the same kind. The basic rule is that no category can be combined with another. It is the same for cows and sheep. For example, if someone has 199 dirhams and nineteen dinars, he is not supposed to pay zakah on them.

Zakah on Debt:
Debts are of two kinds:

1. A debt which is acknowledged by the debtor with the willingness to pay it off, and
2. A debt which is not acknowledged either because the borrower is insolvent or its payment is deferred.

In the first case, scholars have formed the following views:

The first view:
'Ali, ath-Thauri, Abu Thaur, the Hanafiyyah, and the Hanbaliyyah hold that the creditor should pay zakah on the debt, provided he has received it from the debtor, in that zakah will be payable retroactively. The Second view:
'Uthman, Ibn 'Umar, Jabir, Tawus, anNakha'i, al-Hasan, az-Zuhri, Qatadah, and ash-Shaf'i hold that the creditor should pay zakah on the value of a debt owed on time, even though he did not receive it yet, since he is eventually going to receive it and use it. It is similar to the zakah of any deposited amount. The third view:
'Ikrimah, 'Aishah, and Ibn 'Umar hold that no zakah is due on debt since it does not grow. It is similar to the case of acquired assets. The fourth view:
Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab and 'Ata ibn Abu Rabah hold that zakah should be paid for one year if the debt is returned to the creditors.

2. For the second case, Qatadah, Ishaq ibn Abu Thaur, and the Hanifiyyah hold that its zakah is not compulsory on this type of debt, since the creditor cannot benefit from it. Ath-Thauri and Abu 'Ubayd hold that on receipt (of it) the creditor should pay its zakah retroactively since it his and he may use it at his own free will, like the zakah on the debt of a rich person. The last two views are attributed to ash-Shaf'i. 'Umar ibn 'Abdulaziz, alHasan, al-Layth, al-Auza'i and Malik agree that he should pay zakah on it for only one year when he receives it.

Zakah on Banknotes and bonds:
Since they are documents with guaranteed credits, banknotes and bonds are subject to zakah once they attain the minimum of nisab--that is, a person may change them into currency immediately. The minimum of nisab is twenty-seven Egyptian riyals.

Zakah on Jewelry:
Scholars agree that no zakah has to be paid on diamonds, pearls, sapphires, rubies, corals, chrysolite, or any kind of precious stones unless they are used for trade. There is, however, disagreement over whether women's gold or silver jewelry is exempt. Abu Hanifah and Ibn Hazm hold that zakah is compulsory on gold and silver jewelry provided they constitute a nisab. Their view is based on the report of 'Amr ibn Shu'aib from his father from his grandfather: "Two women with gold bracelets on their wrists came to the Prophet, upon whom be peace. The Prophet said: 'Do you want Allah to make you wear bracelets of fire on the Day of Judgment?' They answered: 'No.' He said: 'Then pay the zakah which is due on what you wear on your wrists.' "

In the same way, Asma' bint Yazid reported: "My aunt and I, while wearing gold bracelets, went to the Prophet, upon whom be peace. He asked: 'Did you pay their zakah?' She related that they had not. The Prophet said: 'Do you not fear that Allah will make you wear a bracelet of fire? Pay its zakah.' " Al-Haythami confirms that it was narrated by Ahmad, and its chain is good.

'Aishah narrated: "The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, came to me and saw me wearing silver rings. Thereupon, he asked: 'What is this, 'Aishah?' I replied: 'I made them to adorn myself for you, O Messenger of Allah.' He said: 'Did you pay their zakah?' I said: 'No, or what Allah wishes.' Then he said: 'Their punishment in Hell is enough for you.' " This is related by Abu Dawud, ad-Daraqutni, and al-Baihaqi.

Malik, ash-Shaf'i, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal hold that there is no zakah on women's jewelry regardless of its value. Al-Baihaqi relates that Jabir ibn 'Abdullah was once asked if jewelry was subject to zakah. He replied that it was not, even if its value exceeded one thousand dinars.

Al-Baihaqi also narrates the case of Asma': "Asma' bint Abu Bakr used to adorn her daughters with gold. Although its value was around fifty thousand dinars, she did not pay zakah on it."

It is related in al-Muwatta' from 'Abdurrahman ibn al-Qasim from his father that 'Aishah used to take care of her nieces, who were orphans under her protection, and adorned them with jewelry without paying its zakah. Also in al-Muwatta' it is related that 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar used to adorn his daughters and slave girls with gold without paying zakah.

Summing up the subject, al-Khattabi concludes: "What appears in the Qur'an supports the view of those who hold that zakah is obligatory on gold and silver, and the traditions also support this. Those who did not consider it obligatory based their view on speculation and some of the traditions. However, to be on the safe side, it is better to pay." These different views deal with allowable gold or silver adornment. As for other adornments which are prohibited-- that is, a woman wearing a man's adornment--their zakah should be paid. The same rule is applied to gold or silver utensils.

Zakah on a Woman's Dowry:
Abu Hanifah is of the opinion that there is no zakah on the dowry of a woman until she comes to possess it. At the same time, the dowry must constitute the nisab at the end of the year. The position, however, will be different if the woman has accumulated a nisab other than the dowry. In such a case, any amount she receives should be added to the nisab, and zakah should be paid at the end of a year of possession. Ash-Shaf'i holds that a woman must pay zakah on her dowry at the end of one year, even if it is before the wedding. The probability of its restitution because of nullification, or its fifty percent refund because of divorce, does not exempt her from paying it. The Hanbaliyyah are of the opinion that dowry is a credit for women and that it is similar to debts. If the recipient of a dowry is rich, the payment of its zakah is obligatory. If the recipient is insolvent, or does not acknowledge it, then, according to al-Khiraqiyy, the zakah is obligatory regardless of the consumation of marriage. If a woman receives half of her dowry (in the case of her divorce before consumation), she should pay zakah only on the received half. However, if all of the dowry is cancelled before she receives it (in the case of nullifying the marriage on her behalf), she is under no obligation to pay its zakah.

Zakah on House Rent:
Abu Hanifah and Malik maintain that the rent is not payable to the landlord at the time of the contract but at the expiry of the renting period. Thus, the landlord who rents out a house should pay the zakah on his house rent, provided the fixed amount meets the following conditions: receiving of the money and completion of nisab at the end of the year. The Hanbaliyyah think that once the contract is concluded, the landlord is entitled to have rent. Thus, if someone leases his house, the zakah is due upon its fixed rate reaching a nisab at the end of the year. This is so because the landlord has the right to spend the rent the way he wants to. The possibility of cancelling the lease does not invalidate the obligation to pay zakah. This case is similar to the case of dowry before the consumation of a marriage. If the rent is an arrear rent, then it should be treated as a debt either as paid or postponed. In al-Majmu', an-Nawawi says: "If somebody leased a house and was paid in advance, he should pay its zakah on receiving it. This is uncontroversial."

Zakah on Trade:
The majority of scholars among the companions, the followers, the generation after them, and the jurists who came subsequently held that zakah on merchandise is compulsory. Abu Dawud and alBaihaqi relate that Samurah ibn Jundub reported: "The Prophet, upon whom be peace, used to command us to pay sadaqah from [the goods] we had for sale." Ad-Daraqutni and al-Baihaqi relate that Abu Dharr reported the Prophet, upon whom be peace, saying: "There is sadaqah on camels, sheep, cows, and house furniture." Ash-Shaf'i, Ahmad, Abu 'Ubaid, ad-Daraqutni, al-Baihaqi, and 'Abd ur-Razzaq relate that Abu 'Amr ibn Hammas reported from his father that he said: "I used to sell leather and containers. Once, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab passed by me and said: 'Pay the sadaqah due on your property.' I said: 'O Commander of the Faithful, it is just leather.' He replied: 'Evaluate it and then pay its due sadaqah.' "

Commenting on its credentials, Ibn Quadmah says in alMughni that this is a kind of story which is well-known and indisputable. This might be a consensus of opinion.

On the other hand, the Zahiriyyah maintain that merchandise is not subject to zakah. They differ, says Ibn Rushd, because of their use of analogical reasoning to the obligation of zakah and because of their disagreement on the authenticity of Samurah's and Abu Dharr's reports.

However, the majority of jurists view merchandise as a property which increases in value. Hence, by analogy, it is similar to the three categories upon which zakah must be paid: plantations, cattle, and gold and silver.

It is stated in al-Mandr: "Most scholars agree that zakah is obligatory on merchandise even though there is no clear-cut ruling in the Qur'an or the sunnah on this issue. However, there are a number of reports that corroborate each other with regard to the evidence provided by [their] texts. Their rationale is that since merchandise is a form of cash, there is no difference between it and dinars or dirhams in terms of which it is valued. This means that the form of the nisab can alternate between value in the form of cash and that which is valued in the form of merchandise. If zakah had not been obligatory on merchandise, the rich--or most of them --would have converted their cash into merchandise for trading purposes, making sure that the nisab of gold and silver is never possessed by them for a year."

The main consideration here is that by levying zakah on the rich, Allah the Exalted wants to help the poor and to promote the welfare of the people in general. For the rich, its benefit lies in cleansing their persons of stinginess--both in money and feelings. For the poor, its benefit lies in easing their circumstances. Zakah thus eliminates the causes of corruption which results from the increase of money in a few hands. It is this wisdom which the Qur'an refers to when it deals with the distribution of booty: "... that it becomes not a commodity between the rich among you" (al Hashr 7). Therefore, it is not reasonable to exempt businessmen from their societal obligations when they possess most of the nation's wealth.

When Goods can be Judged as Trading Goods:
The author of al-Mughm states that: "Merchandise can only be considered as trading goods for two reasons:

1. The actual possession of merchandise is acquired by an act such as a commercial transaction, marriage, divorce demanded by the wife (khul'), acceptance of a gift, bequest, booty, and other lawful acquisition. This is because that which is not subject to zakah cannot be considered as so subsequent to its possession on the basis of niyyah (intention) only, as, for example, in the case of fasting. It does not make any difference whether a person came to possess such items by buying them or not because his possession is by an act similar to inheritance.

2. The goods are intended, at the time of possession, for trade. These are considered as non-trade goods even though the person intends to use them later for trade.

However, if he possesses these goods through inheritance and intends them for trade, they are not considered as trade goods because the determining factor in such cases is the status of acquisition, not the temporary state of trade. Mere intention will not provide a valid reason to change its status. For example, if a person intends to travel without embarking upon it, then the mere expression of his intention will not constitute the act of traveling. Likewise, if a person bought merchandise for trade and then intended it for possession, it would be considered as such and zakah will not be paid on it.

How is Zakah on Trade Money to be Paid:
One who possesses merchandise with a nisab for a year should pay zakah on it, the amount of which is a quarter of a tenth of its value. This should be done by a businessman every year. However, the period of a year does not come into effect unless his inventory constitutes a nisab.

Assuming a businessman possesses merchandise short of a nisab and part of a year has passed, his inventory subsequently increases through an unusual rise in value (because of supply and demand or through price fluctuation) so that it constitutes a nisab; or he sold merchandise for the price of a nisab; or during the course of the year he comes to possess other merchandise which, together with his previous amount, completes a nisab; then, the hawl (for the purpose of zakah) starts at that time, and the time elapsed is not taken into consideration. This is the view of the Hanafiyyah, ath-Thauri, ashShaf'i, Ishaq, Abu 'Ubaid, Abu Thaur, and Ibn al-Mundhir.

According to Abu Hanifah, if the merchandise in possession constitutes a nisab at the beginning of the year and also at the end, zakah will still be applicable even though the nisab might have decreased within that time. The reason is that it is difficult to ascertain its completeness in the intervening period. The Hanbaliyyah hold that if the merchandise decreases during the course of the year and increases again until it constitutes a nisab, the (requisite) period of a year starts all over again because it has been interrupted in its course by the decrease.

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