Zakah on plants and fruit:
Allah has made zakah obligatory on plants and fruit, for He says: "O you who believe! Spend of the good things which you have earned, and of that which We bring forth from the earth" [alBaqarah 267]. Zakah is called expenditure (nafaqah). Giving the justification for paying zakah on produce, Allah says: "He it is who produces gardens trellised and untrellised, and the date palm and the crops of diverse flavors, and the olive, and the pomegranate, like and unlike. Eat of the fruit thereof when it produces fruit, and pay its due upon the harvest day" [alAn'am 141]. In his explanation of the word haqq (due) in the preceding 'ayah, Ibn 'Abbas says that by haqq is meant both the obligatory zakah and the 'ushr (tithe) and the half-tithe.
Zakah on Plants and Fruits at the Time of the Prophet:
During the time of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, zakah was levied on wheat, barley, dates, and raisins.
Abu Burdah related from Abu Musa and Mu'adh that when the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, sent the (latter two) to Yemen to teach its inhabitants Islam, he commanded them to levy sadaqah only on wheat, barley, dates, and raisins. This hadith is related by ad-Daraqutni, al-Hakim, at-Tabarani, and al-Baihaqi.
Commenting on the status of the report, al-Baihaqi says that its chain is muttasil (uninterrupted) and its narrators are credible.
Whether sadaqah on such items should be considered zakah or not, Ibn al-Mundhir and ibn 'Abd al-Barr say: "The scholars are of the opinion that sadaqah is obligatory on wheat, barley, dates, and raisins." This opinion has its roots in a saying by Ibn Majah that the Messenger, upon whom be peace, regulated the payment of zakah on wheat, barley, dates, raisins and corn. Muhammad ibn 'Ubaidullah al-'Arzumi, a narrator in its chain, however, is of questionable status in the eyes of the scholars, and as such, his report is not credible.
Plants and Fruits Which Were Not Subject to Zakah:
Zakah was not levied on vegetables or fruit, with the exception of grapes and fresh dates (rutab). 'Ata ibn as-Sa'ib reported that 'Abdullah ibn al-Mughirah wanted to levy sadaqah on Musa ibn Talha's vegetables. The latter objected, saying: "You have no right to do that. The Messenger of Allah used to say: 'There is no sadaqah on this [vegetables].' " This is related by ad-Daraqutni, alHakim, and al-Athram in his Sunan. This hadith is mursal.
Musa ibn Talhah says: "Five things [which were subject to zakah] were mentioned by the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace: barley, wheat, sult [a kind of barley having no husk], raisins, and dates. Whatever else the land produces is not subject to the 'ushr. It is also reported that Mu'adh did not levy sadaqah on vegetables."
Commenting on the status of these reports, al-Baihaqi says: "All of these hadith are of the mursal kind but were reported from different authorities. Nevertheless, they confirm each other." The hadith on this subject include the sayings of 'Umar, 'Ali, and 'Aishah.
Al-Athram narrated that one of Caliph 'Umar's governors wrote to him conceming grape plantations, including peaches and pomegranates which produced twice as much harvest as the grapes. He wrote back: "There is no 'ushr (tithe) on them. They pertain to 'udah--items that cannot be distributed in inheritance."
At-Tirmidhi agrees with the preceding and says: "The practice [based upon this] among most jurists is not to levy sadaqah on vegetables." Al-Qurtubi also supports this: "Zakah is to be levied on the muqtat [land products used as stable food] and not on vegetables." In at-Ta'if, they used to grow pomegranates, peaches, and citrus, but there is no confirmation that the Prophet and his successors levied zakah on them.
Ibn al-Qayyim contends: "It was not his [the Prophet's] practice to levy zakah on horses, slaves, mules, donkeys, and vegetables, melons, cucumbers, and fruits, which cannot be stored or measured by capacity. The only exceptions were grapes and fresh dates. On the latter two kinds, zakah was levied as a whole, without differentiation whether or not they were dry."
The Opinion of Jurists:
There is no difference of opinion among jurists concerning the obligatory nature of zakah on plants and fruits. They do, however, differ on the kinds of plants and fruits which should be subject to zakah. Here is the broad spectrum of opinions on the subject:
Al-Hasan al-Basri and ash-Shu'abi hold that zakah is only on the specified items (in the Qur'an and sunnah)--that is corn, dates, and raisins--since other kinds are not mentioned. Ash-Shaukani upholds this view.
Abu Hanifah maintains that zakah is due on every type of produce of the land including vegetables, but excluding what is not intentionally planted and cultivated such as firewood, bamboo, grass, and those trees which bear no fruit. His opinion is based upon the general meaning of the Prophet's saying: "From what the heavens irrigate, a tithe [is due]." The meaning is general and encompasses all types of arable products, which are planted to make the land grow, and therefore refers to any agricultural practices similar to the growing of grains (habb).
Abu Yusuf and Muhammad hold that zakah is payable on every product of the land, provided it lasts the whole year without too much care or treatment. This includes produce measured by capacity, such as grains, or by mass, such as cotton and sugar. If the produce does not last a whole year, such as the two kinds of cucumber (quththa' and khiyar), watermelons and others of their kind, there is no zakah on them.
Malik holds that zakah is payable on that which is produced on the land and which stays, becomes dry, and is planted by human beings. This includes land produce used as nonperishable food (muqtat), such as safflower and sesame seeds. According to him, there is no zakah on vegetables and fruits such as figs, pomegranates and apples. Ash-Shaf'i maintains that zakah is payable on any produce, provided the resulting crop is used as regular food which can be stored and planted by human beings, such as grains and barley.
An-Nawawi says: "Our opinion is that there is no zakah on any trees other than palm and grapevines. There is also no zakah on grains other than the one which is or can be stored, and no zakah on vegetables." Ahmad is of the opinion that there is zakah on everything that Allah causes the land to produce, such as grains and fruits, that can be dried, preserved, measured and planted by human beings, whether they be considered nonperishable foods, such as wheat and qutniyyat (including peas, beans, lentils and such other grains), or spices and herbs (ahariz), such as coriander, caraway seeds, or seeds such as linseed of the fluz plant (kittan seeds), the seeds of the two kinds of cucumber (quththa' and khiyar), or safflower and sesame seeds.
According to Ahmad, zakah is also payable on dry fruits such as dates, raisins, apricots, figs, almonds, hazel nuts, and pistachio nuts if the preceding specifications apply to them. There is no zakah on fresh fruit such as peaches, pears, apples, apricots, and figs. In the same way, it is not due on vegetables such as the two kinds of cucumber, watermelons, eggplants, turnips, and carrots.
Zakah on Olives:
An-Nawawi says: "As for olives, our [Shaf'iyyah] view is that there is no zakah on them." This is also the opinion of Hasan ibn Salih, Ibn Abu Layla, and Abu 'Ubaid.
Scholars such as as-Zuhri, al-Auza'i, al-Layth, Malik, athThauri, Abu Hanifah, and Abu Thaur maintain that there is zakah on olives. Az-Zuhri, al-Layth, and al-Auza'i hold: "Determine its quantity by conjecture (yukharras), and then take its zakah in the form of olive oil," while Malik says: "There is no need to compute its quantity by conjecture (yukharras). Take a tithe subsequent to the olives being pressed and attain the weight of five awsuq."
The Origin of the Different Opinions Concerning Zakah on Plants and Fruits:
Of their differences on the payment of zakah pertaining to plants and fruits, Ibn Rushd informs us: "The difference of opinion lies in the fact that some jurists confine paying of zakah to only those items of consumption which are generally agreed upon, while others go beyond those items and include dried fruits in them too. [The crux of the issue is]: What qualifies the four edible items [wheat, barley, dates, and dried grapes] for zakah? Are they subject to zakah because of their being delineated as such or because of their special import to the subsistence of life? Those who subscribe to the first view restrict payment of zakah to the four edibles, and those who subscribe to the second view extend the obligation to all land produce except for grass, firewood, and bamboo. There is a consensus on the latter being excluded from zakah. However, when it comes to the use of analogy based on a general statement, both groups rest on shaky ground."
The saying of the Prophet, which uses the expression alladhi yaqtadhi, reads: "From what the heavens water, a tithe [is due], and from what is watered by irrigation [nadh] a half a tithe." The relative pronoun ma is used to mean al-ladhi, which is a general expression. Allah, the Exalted, also says: "It is He who has brought into being gardens--both the cultivated ones and those growing wild--and the date palm, and fields bearing multiform produce, and the olive trees, and the pomegranate: all resembling one another and yet so different. Eat of their fruit when it comes to fruition, and give unto the poor their due on the harvest day ..." [al-An'am 141].
Analogically speaking, zakah aims at counteracting poverty and this cannot be done through zakah on land produce which is edible and sustains life.
Restricting a general statement with this kind of analogical reasoning vitiates zakah on all land produce except ones which sustain life. Those who follow the general import of the Prophet's saying add some more to the generally acknowledged four items. Excluded of course are the ones on which there is consensus.
Again, those who agree upon land produce of a subsistance kind often differ over whether it can be considered as being subsistent. Can analogical reasoning be the basis of what they agree upon or not? An example of such a disagreement is that of Malik and ash-Shaf'i regarding olives. Malik holds that zakah on olives is obligatory, while ash-Shaf'i is against it, according to a latter view expressed in Egypt. The reason for his disagreement is whether olives could be considered as food vital for life or not.
Nisab of Plants and Fruits:
Most scholars say that there is no zakah on plants or fruits until they attain the amount of five awsuq. Furthermore, this becomes applicable only after the chaff, straw, and husk are removed. If it is not cleansed of husk, then the amount of zakah would be ten awsuq.
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: "There is no sadaqah (zakah) on that which is less than five awsuq." It is also narrated by Ahmad and al-Baihaqi with a good chain. Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: "There is no sadaqah on any amount of dates or grains less than five awsuq." A wusuq by consensus of opinion is sixty sa'as (a cubic measure of varying magnitude). This hadith is said to be munqati that is--a hadith with an interrupted chain.
Both Abu Hanifah and Mujahid hold that zakah is due on any amount, little or big, in accordance with the generic nature of the Prophet's saying: "From what the heavens water, a tithe [is due] ..." This is because land produce is perishable and cannot be preserved for a whole year. In that case, such produce does not attain a nisab within a one-year period.
Ibn al-Qayyim's discussion of the subject is that the authentic and explicit sunnah for a tithe's nisab is the hadith: "From what the heavens water, a tithe [is due], and from what is watered by irrigation (gharb-vessel) a half a tithe." This is applicable to both small and large quantities as opposed to the specific amount mentioned in other hadith. In its application, a generic statement is as important as a specific one. Should there be a conflict between the two, then the most comprehensive will be applicable. This is the rule.
It has been said that both of the preceding hadith ought to be followed. In their essence, they do not contradict each other, nor does one of them have to cancel the other. The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, has to be obeyed in this matter, for he said: "From what the heavens water, a tithe [is due] . . ." This saying seeks to distinguish between the two (categories): one on which a tithe is due, and the other on which only half of the tithe is due. He therefore distinguished between the two categories only in respect to the amount due. There is no mention of any amount of nisab in this hadith. However, he mentioned it explicitly in another hadith which cannot be ignored as something that is general or is intended to be so and not otherwise. It is similar to other statements of general import which have been explained in the texts.
Ibn Qudamah concludes: "The saying of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, that 'there is no sadaqah [zakah] on anything less than five awsuq' is agreed upon. This hadith is specific, and for this reason takes precedence and clarifies his previous statement of general import. This is similar to his saying that 'zakah is due on all freely grazing camels,' which becomes explicit by his other saying on the same subject: 'There is no sadaqah on less than five camels.' Likewise his saying: 'Sadaqah on silver is a fourth of the tithe,' becomes specific by a latter utterance: 'There is no sadaqah on any amount less than five ounces.' Thus, it is possible to have holdings which qualify for sadaqah per se, but on which it is not levied."
When it comes to land produce, possession of a property for a year cannot be used as criterion, because their maturity or growth is completed by the time of harvest, and not by their continuity extended beyond a year. However, possession is considered for goods other than land produce since it is generally assumed that by the end of the year they must have completed their growth. The principle of attaining a nisab on any property is based on the understanding that a nisab is an amount large enough to be subjected to zakah. This may be explained by recalling that sadaqah is obligatory for the rich, which presupposes the existence of nisab generated by their holdings. For produce which cannot be measured but qualifies for zakah, a sa'a is used. One sa'a is a measure equal to one and one-third cups (gadah). Thus, a nisab is fifty kaylah (kaylah is a dry measure of weight, in Egypt it is equal to 16.72 L). As to the produce which cannot be measured, Ibn Quadamah says: "The nisab of saffron, cotton and such items is to be weighed at 1,600 Iraqi pounds (ratl, an Iraqi ratl equals approximately 130 dirhams). Thus, its weight is estimated."
Abu Yusuf says that if the produce cannot be measured, then zakah can only be levied on it when its value attains the nisab of articles subject to the lowest standard of measurement. Thus, zakah will not be levied on cotton until its value reaches five awsuq of an article to the lowest value so measured, such as barley and the like. This is because it is impossible to measure the article in itself except by the lower price of two nisabs. According to Muhammad ibn al-Hasan: "For zakah, a product has to reach five times the greatest value of its kind. Thus, zakah is not payable on cotton when it reaches five qintars, because evaluation by means of wusuq is based on the consideration that its value is higher than what is valued in kind."
The Rate of Zakah:
The rate of zakah differs according to the method of irrigation. If it is watered naturally without the use of artificial means, then the zakah payable is a tithe (one-tenth) of the produce. However, if it is irrigated by a mechanical device or with purchased water, then the zakah payable is half a tithe.
Mu'adh reports that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: "On that which is watered by the heavens, or by an adjacent water channel, a tithe is due. As for what is irrigated through a well or a stream, its zakah is half a tithe." This hadith is narrated by alBaihaqi and al-Hakim, and is graded sahih. Ibn 'Umar reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: "On that which is watered by the heavens or springs or its own roots, a tithe is due, and on that watered by a well or a stream, half a tithe." This hadith is narrated by al-Bukhari and others. In case the land is watered equally by artificial as well as natural means, then zakah payable will be three-fourths of a tithe.
Ibn Qudamah stated that he did not know of any difference of opinion on the preceding hadith. If one method of watering is used more than the other, then for calculating zakah, this would be the determining factor. This is the view of Abu Hanifah, Ahmad, athThauri, and ash-Shaf'i (one of his two opinions).
All of the costs involved in harvesting, transportation, threshing, cleaning, storing, and others are to be borne by the owner from his property and should not be accounted for against the zakah to be paid. Ibn 'Abbas and Ibn 'Umar hold that whatever is borrowed for the purpose of tilling, planting, and harvesting should first be taken out.
This is evident from their following statements reported by Jabir ibn Zaid that Ibn 'Abbas and Ibn 'Umar said that a man who borrows in order to spend it either on cultivation (of his land) or on his family must first pay off his debt, then pay zakah on the rest. Ibn 'Abbas said: "First he must pay off what he spent on cultivation, and then pay zakah on the rest." Yahya ibn Adam related this in al-Kharaj. Ibn Hazm relates from 'Ata that all expenses are to be deducted first. If zakah is applicable to the remaining amount, only then will it be paid.
Zakah on Kharajiyyah Land:
Land subject to tax is divided into two categores:
1. 'ushriyyah land (tithe land): land owned by people who accepted Islam willingly or who were conquered by force and had their land divided among the conquerors, or land revived and cultivated by Muslims; and
2. kharajiyyah land (taxable land), land conquered by force and left to its original owners on the condition that they pay the required land tax.
Just as zakah is payable on 'ushriyyah, so it is paid on kharajiyyah when the inhabitants of the latter accept Islam or when a Muslim buys it. In that case, both the tithe and the kharaj become due, and neither of them will negate the application of the other.
Ibn al-Mundhir witnesses: "This is the view of most of the scholars, including 'Umar ibn 'Abdulaziz, Rabi'ah, az-Zuhri, Yahya al-Ansari, Malik, al-Awzai, ath-Thauri, al-Hasan ibn Salih, Ibn Abu Layla, al-Layth, Ibn al-Mubarak, Ahmad, Ishaq, Abu 'Ubaid, and Dawud." Their opinion is derived from the Qur'an, the sunnah, and the exercise of their intellect--that is, by means of analogical reasoning or qiyas. The Qur'anic verse referred to is: "O you who believe! Spend of the good things which you have earned and of that which We produce from the earth for you" [al-Baqarah 267]. Sharing the produce of ones land with the poor is obligatory, whether the land is kharajiyyah or 'ushriyyah. The sunnah referred to is: "From what the heavens water, a tithe [is due]." This hadith encompasses in its general meaning both the kharaj and the 'ushriyyah land.
As to the analogical reasoning (qiyas), both zakah and kharaj are a kind of obligations (hagq), each based on a different reason, and one does not nullify the other. It is similar to the case when a person who is in the state of ihram kills privately owned game (for eating). Since the tithe is payable by the force of the text, it cannot be negated by kharaj, which becomes payable by the force of ijtihad. Abu Hanifah holds that there is no tithe on kharaj land. Kharaj, he says, is due only when the land is conquered, (whereas) one of the conditions governing the obligatory nature of the tithe is that the land should not be kharajiyyah.
The Validity of Abu Hanifah's View:
Imam Abu Hanifah provides the following evidence for his view: According to Ibn Mas'ud, the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: "Neither kharaj nor tithe ['ushr] are payable simultaneously on the land of a Muslim."
The preceding hadith is by consensus held to be weak (da'if). Yahya ibn 'Anbasah reported it on the authority of Abu Hanifah from Hammad from Ibrahim an-Nakha'i from 'Alqamah, from Ibn Mas'ud from the Prophet, upon whom be peace.
Al-Baihaqi probes its chain and says in al-Ma'rifah as-Sunan wa al-Athar: "The preceding hadith is narrated by Abu Hanifah from Hammad from Ibrahim on his own authority. Thus, Yahya reported in suspended (marfu') form." Yahya ibn 'Anbasah is well-known for interpolating unauthentic sayings and attributing them to established authorities. This was related by Abu Ahmad ibn 'Adiyy al-Hafiz as we were informed by Abu Sa'id al-Malini about him."
Likewise, al-Kamal Ibn al-Humam, a leading Hanafiyyah, considers the hadith weak. Ahmad, Muslirn, and Abu Dawud relate from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: "Iraq would refrain from paying its qafiz' and dirham, Syria its mudd and dinar, and Egypt its ardab and dinar. Thus, you would come back from where you had started." He said this three times. Abu Hurairah heard this in person.
This hadith does not provide evidence to the effect that zakah should not be taken from kharaj land. The scholars interpret it to mean that the conversion of these countries to Islam would eliminate land tax. It may also have alluded to dissensions which could prevail at the end of time and which would lead to neglecting or fulfilling the obligation of zakah, jizyah and other such dues by them.
An-Nawawi says: "If this hadith means what they [the Hanafiyyah] claim, then it means that zakah could not be enjoined on dirhams, dinars, and merchandise. If this is so, then nobody subscribes to it." It was reported that when the dahqan (grandee) of Bahr al-Mulk embraced Islam, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab said: "Give him the land and collect the land tax from him." This is a clear statement on the matter of taking kharaj without demanding payment of the tithe.
This incident indicates that kharaj is not cancelled for any person after he embraces Islam, nor does it lead to the cancellation of tithe. He mentioned kharaj here as a way of stating that it will not be cancelled by embracing Islam, like jizyah. As for the tithe, it is well known that it is binding on a free Muslim, so there is no need to mention it. He also did not mention the levy of zakah on cattle. This holds for the payment of zakah on silver and gold and other valuables. Perhaps the dahqan (grandee) did not possess anything which required the levy of a tithe on it.
It is said that the practice of the rulers and imams was not to combine the 'ushr and kharaj. Ibn al-Mundhir disapproves of such a practice because 'Umar ibn 'Abdulaziz did combine the two. It is also said that kharaj is the opposite of 'ushr. This means that kharaj is a consequence of conquest, whereas 'ushr is an act of worship. Therefore, the two cannot be combined (at one time) and obtained simultaneously from the same person. This held true in the beginning (when lands were conquered), but it is not tenable in the long run. Nevertheless, not all forms of kharaj are based on force and conquest since some of its forms are instituted without force as, for example, in the case of lands adjoining a kharaj land or in the case of acquired and revived land watered with streams.
It is also said that the reason behind the imposition of kharaj and 'ushr is one--that is, an actually or potentially yielding land. This can be explained by recalling that if it is marsh land of no benefit (sabkhah), there is no kharaj or 'ushr on it. That is, one cause cannot demand two dues of the same kind. This is similar to the case of an individual who for a year possesses free-grazing camels (sa'imah) intended for sale, for such a person is not required to pay two kinds of zakah--that is, one for possession and one for trade.
This is not the case because the 'ushr (tithe) is payable on the land's produce and the kharaj on the land itself, regardless of whether it is planted or not. As to the admissibility of the unity of cause, alKamal ibn al-Humam explains there is nothing to prevent two obligations from being connected to one cause, such as land.
Most scholars are of the opinion that anyone who rents a piece of land and cultivates it must pay the zakah, not the true owner of that land. To this Abu Hanifah replies: "Zakah is due on the land owner." Ibn Rushd holds: "Their difference lies in whether the 'ushr is payable on the land itself or its produce." Obviously, zakah, as their views suggest, is payable on either of them. The difference is only of priority, considering that both the produce and the land belong to the same owner. Most scholars say that zakah is due on seeds (habb). Abu Hanifah holds that the essence of obligation rests with the land. Ibn Qudamah inclines toward the majority's view and says: "The obligation lies on the produce and is payable by its owner, as in the case of zakah on the value [of a property] intended for trade. Also, it is similar to the tithe payable on the produce of the land owned." Their (the Hanafiyyah) view is not authentic, for if zakah were to be levied on the value of the land, then it would have been obligatory even if the land was not cultivated, as is the case with the land tax, and even nonMuslirns would not be excluded from its application. Be that the case, kharaj would have to be estimated on the land itself, not on the value of produce--that is, it would be considered part of the expenditure of fay', not the expenditure of zakah.
The Estimation of Nisab on Palm Trees and Grapevines Through Khars, Not by Measure (Kayl):
As soon as palm trees and grapevines ripen and their produce is ready to be picked, an estimation of their nisab is made without their actual weighing. The process is carried out by a knowledgeable and trustworthy person who estimates the amount of fresh grapes and dates still on the trees for zakah as if they were dry dates and raisins. The arnount of zakah is, however, payable when the fruit becomes dry. Abu Humayd as-Sa'idi related: "We went on the expedition of Tabuk with the Prophet, upon whom be peace. When we arrived at Wadi al-Qura, we saw a woman in her orchard. The Prophet said: 'Let us estimate [her zakah].' Then the Messenger, upon whom be peace, estimated ten awsuq and told her: '[The amount of zakah] has been calculated on your [orchard's] produce.' " This is narrated by alBukhari. This is the practice of the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, and his companions and the scholars observed it.
The Hanafiyyah have different views because they consider conjecture to be uncertain, and therefore, of no use in determining the amount owed. Still, the tradition of the Messenger of Allah is a better guide ('adha) because conjecture is not guessing; it is a diligent attempt to estimate the amount of the produce. It is the same as estimating the amount of the produce lost (because of its being rotten or moth-ridden). The basis for conjecture rests on the custom that people eat fresh fruits, and as such, there is no need for calculating the amount of zakah before it is eaten or plucked. In this way, the owners are allowed to do what they want and, at the same time, to determine the amount of zakah. The appraiser should ignore a third or a fourth of the produce as a reprieve for the property owners since they, their guests, and their neighbors need to eat some of it. Also, the produce is exposed to such perils as birds feeding, passers-by plucking, and wind blowing. Any appraisal of the amount of zakah on all of the produce without excluding a third or a fourth of it (for the preceding reasons) would have militated against the genuine interests of the owners.
Sahl ibn Abu Hathamah related that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: "Whenever you conjecture, estimate the [zakah] and ignore one-third. If you do not, then leave [at least] one-fourth." This is narrated by Ahmad and the authors of Sunan, except for Ibn Majah. It was also reported by al-Hakim and Ibn Hibban, and they both authenticated it. Commenting on the status of the report, atTirmidhi says: "The hadith reported by Sahl is the one enacted or followed by most scholars." Bashir ibn Yassar said: "When 'Umar ibn al-Khattab appointed Abu Hathamah al-Ansari to estimate the property of Muslims, he told him: 'Whenever you see that the people have left some dates unplucked for autumn, leave them for the people to eat, and do not estimate the zakah on them.' "
Makhul said: "Whenever the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, assigned someone to estimate, he would say: 'Be easy on the people, for some of their property [trees] could be barren, some low, and some for [their] eating.' " It was narrated by Abu 'Ubaid, who added: "The low palm tree is called as-sabilah and allows its fruit to be plucked by passers-by. The eating tree (al-akilah) is a palm tree especially designated as an eating tree for the owner's family or for whoever is attached to them."
Eating of the Grains:
It is permissible for the owner to eat from the grain, and whatever he consumes will not be included in the quantity subject to zakah, for this is a long-standing custom. In any case, only a small amount is actually eaten. It is the same as an owner of a fruitbearing tree eating some of its produce. Therefore, the zakah will be estimated on the actual amount after he harvests the crop and husks the seeds. Ahmad was asked about the eating of farik (rubbed green wheat) by the owner, and he answered that there is no harm if the owner eats what he needs. This is also the opinion of ash-Shaf'i, al-Layth and Ibn Hazm. However, Malik and Abu Hanifah hold that the owner will have to account for what he eats.
Combining Grains and Fruit:
Scholars agree that various kinds of fruit can be combined even if their quality is different--that is, excellent or bad in quality. Different kinds of raisins may also be combined together, and so can the various kinds of wheat and cereals.
They also agree that merchandise and its cash value received can be combined. Ash-Shaf'i allows combining goods and cash only when purchased because the nisab is calculated upon that. Scholars also do not allow the combination of certain categories with others in order to attain a nisab, with the exception of grains and fruits. That is why one category of animals cannot be combined with another. For example, camels cannot be added to cattle to complete a nisab, nor can fruit be combined with raisins.
Scholars have different points of view in regard to combining various types of grains with one another. The best and the most correct opinion is that no two things can be combined to calculate a nisab. The nisab must be considered on every category by itself. This is because there are various categories and many kinds. Therefore, barley cannot be added to wheat, nor can the latter be added to the former, which is also true of dates and raisins, and chickpeas and lentils. This is the opinion of Abu Hanifah, ash-Shaf'i, and Ahmad, according to one of the reports. Most of the early scholars hold this opinion. Ibn al-Mundhir says that most scholars concur that camels cannot be combined with cattle or sheep, or cattle with sheep, nor dates with raisins. Thus, there can be no combining of different kinds of produce or animals. Those who allow such a practice do it without any authentic proof.
When Zakah is Due on Plants and Fruits:
Zakah is due on plants when the grains mature and are ready to be rubbed off and on the fruit when it is ripened. In the case of dates, for example, the indication will be their brightness or red color, and with grapes their sweetness. Zakah becomes due only after grains are husked or the fruit becomes dried. If the farmer sold his grain after it had matured, and the fruit after it had ripened, then its zakah will be paid by him and not the buyer. This is because the obligation to pay zakah became due when the produce was still in the owner's possession.
Payment of Good (Things) for Zakah:
Allah, the Exalted One, commanded those paying zakah to set it aside from the good portion of their property and forbade paying it from the bad portion. He says: "O you who believe! Spend of the good things you have earned and from that which We bring forth from the earth for you, and seek not the bad [with intent] to spend thereof [in charity] when you would not take it for yourselves save with disdain. And know that Allah is free of all wants and worthy of all praise" [alBaqarah 267].
Abu Dawud, an-Nasa'i and others reported from Sahl ibn Hanif from his father that: "The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, forbade paying zakah with two kinds of dates called ju'rur and habiq. People used to set aside the worst of their fruit for sadaqah but were later on forbidden to do this by Allah: 'And seek not the bad [with intent] to spend thereof [in charity]' [al-Baqarah 267]."
While mentioning this verse, al-Bara' said: "This was revealed in relation to us [al-Ansar--the Helpers], because we were owners of palm trees. A man may bring from his palm trees [dates] depending on how much he had, a cluster or two, and hang it at the mosque, and the people of the Saffah who had no food would come to the cluster and beat it with their rod. The green and unripe dates would fall off and they would eat them. There were people who did not seek good. Someone would bring a cluster of bad or inferior quality dates [shis and hashaf] or an already-broken cluster [before it had ripened] and hang it at the mosque. At this time, Allah revealed the 'ayah: 'And seek not the bad [with intent] to spend thereof [in charity] when you would not take it for yourselves save with disdain' [al-Baqarah 267]." Al-Bara' continued: "If one of you receives as a gift something similar to what he gives away, he would not accept it except out of feigned pleasure." Said al-Bara': "As a result of that, each one of us used to offer the good part of what he had." It was narrated by at-Tirmidhi who said: "It is good and sound."
In his summation of the subject, ash-Shaukani says: "This [the preceding hadith] means that the owner is not allowed to set aside the bad from the good on which zakah is due, especially in regard to dates as well as, by analogy, the various other categories on which zakah is due. Furthermore, the collector of zakah is not allowed to take it.
Zakah on Honey:
Most scholars say that there is no zakah on honey. AlBukhari, for one, states: "There is no authentic tradition concerning zakah on honey." Ash-Shaf'i explains: "In my view, no zakah is levied on it because there is no evidence in the traditions (sunan and 'athar) for doing so. Thus, it was exempted." Ibn al-Mundhir affirms: "There is no tradition (khabar) which states that zakah must be paid on honey, nor is there a consensus. Therefore, there is no zakah on honey. This is the opinion of most scholars."
The Hanafiyyah and Ahmad are of the opinion that honey is subject to zakah, even though there is no evidence for this view in any tradition, except for some traditions ('athar) which support each other. Their reason is that since it is produced from blossoms, trees, and flowers and weighed and stored like other types of produce, zakah is due on it. They also say it is subject to zakah because the cost of producing it is less than the cost of growing fruits and plants. Abu Hanifah made it a condition that when zakah is due on honey, it should only be collected on honey produced on tithe land. However, he did not stipulate any nisab for it. If this is so, then reason dictates that it should be a tithe due on any amount. Imam Ahmad, on the contrary, stipulated that it should attain a nisab equal to ten 'afraq. One faraq equals sixteen Iraqi pounds. It makes no difference whether it is produced on kharaj or 'ushr land. Abu Yusuf contends: "Its nisab is ten pounds but Muhammad maintains: "It is five 'afraq." One faraq equals thirty-six pounds.
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