Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Rabi-Ul-Awwal \ Rabi-Ul-Akhir 1424 H
June 2003
Volume 16-06 No : 198
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Our Dialogue


Zakah on Gifts
On Qur'anic Translations
The Issue of Marriage and Polygamy
Intention for Shawwal Fasting

Commentary by Adil Salahi

Zakah on Gifts

Q. If a person receives a gift from a charitable fund, say the Red Cross, is such gift liable to zakah,
should the recipient hold it for a year? What if the recipients are children under the age of 10.


A. The important point to remember about zakah liability is not that a sum of money should be in one’s possession for a year before it becomes liable to zakah. It is that the individual concerned should be in possession of the threshold of zakah for a year or more. This threshold is the equivalent of 85 grams of gold. This means that one does not need to hold the gift in question for a year. If he is a zakah payer in the first place, then the gift he receives is zakahable on his next zakah date, be it in 10 months time, next month or tomorrow.

Any money that becomes one’s own is liable to zakah when a person is a zakah payer, i.e. one who has more than the threshold of zakah. A gift is one lawful way of acquiring things. Since the charitable fund gives you a gift, then you should pay its zakah, if you are a zakah payer.

The same applies to children. Each child is treated on his or her own. They should each have the threshold of zakah before they become liable to paying zakah. A child’s guardian is required to pay out that child’s zakah on time. The Prophet says: “Whoever is in charge of a child’s property should take measures to cause it to grow so that it is not consumed by zakah.” Hence, the overwhelming majority of scholars agree that a guardian should make sure that a child’s zakah is paid out on time.

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On Qur'anic Translations

Q. As a newcomer to Islam, I have been trying to understand the Qur'an, using one translation in my mother tongue (Norwegian) and several English translations. I am surprised that different translations give different meanings to verses and statements. Could you help me.


A. This is a problem with translation generally and translating a text of superior literary merit in particular. The Qur’anic style is unique. One feature of its uniqueness is that a short statement may allow a very broad area of meaning.

When a translator tries to deal with such a text, he has no option but to highlight the meaning that is most readily apparent. Some people may understand the same text differently, and this could lead to different translations. On the other hand, a translator may refer to a particular commentary in order to grasp the meaning of a particular verse. Commentators may give different emphasis to a word or a sentence. If two translators use two commentaries which highlight different aspects of the same verse, the translators may give different renderings of the meaning.

Nothing of this is unusual, and translators should not be blamed for it. What is needed is a permanent academic institution to take charge of the translation of the Qur’an into other languages in order to produce works of the highest reliability. How and when will this happen, God only knows.

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The Issue of Marriage and Polygamy

Q. Verse 32 of Surah 24 orders that unmarried men and women should be married. However, verse 3 of Surah 4 allows a man to marry up to four wives. When an unmarried woman marries an already married man, does she contradict the verse in Surah 24, which specifies that marriage should be for those who are unmarried?


A. No, there is no contradiction. When a man is permitted by a clear verse to marry up to four wives, he is bound to be married when he takes on a second or a third wife. Unless he marries all four on the same day, he cannot be unmarried should he want to have a second wife.

Verse 32 of Surah 24 gives an order to the Muslim community to look after those who are single in its ranks and to help them to get married.

This takes the form of making marriage easy by encouraging social norms that reduce the expenses of marriage. Moreover, the Muslim community should provide financial help to those who wish to be married but have only limited means. It does not impose an order on every single person to get married, because some people will remain unmarried in all societies.

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Intention for Shawwal Fasting

1. Is making up one's mind (niyya) at night a condition for the validity of the six-day fast in Shawwal, as is the case in obligatory fasting, or is it governed by the rule applicable to voluntary fasting which one can resolve upon during the day time even at midday?

2. My late father used to live with me. He used to get money from my brother and give me from that money willingly. How am I to deal with the heirs with regard to such money? Have the heirs any right in the wealth deposited by my father with some people? Is building a charitable project from this wealth a good act?

3. While I was offering a supererogatory prayer, the imam entered the obligatory prayer. Should I stop my prayer? How can I come out of the supererogatory prayer and enter the obligatory one?

4. I am quite well off. I have only one son as my heir. He does not offer prayers and does not carry out his other religious duties. So also he is undutiful to me, besides being a spendthrift and squanderer. I have lost all hopes of reforming him. So I intend to bequeath my property to a charity. What is the rule about it?


A1 Yes, making up the mind for fasting is permissible during the day time in the case of voluntary fasting on the condition that one should not have committed anything which would break the fast before it. If, for example, one eats something after the dawn and then resolves on fasting that day, that fasting will not be valid. But if he has not done anything that would break the fast like eating since the dawn and then makes up his mind to observe fast on that day, it is permissible in the case of voluntary fasting.

A2 It is not permissible for the father to favour some of his children with some gift without giving similar gifts to his other children. If you return the wealth which your father has been favouring you with, to the heirs or if you seek their forgiveness, it is more appropriate. All the wealth left behind by the father including the rights due to him and the deposits made by him belong to the heirs who should divide them among themselves according to their rights. No project can be implemented using that wealth except with their permission. But this is not applicable to the will (wasiya) made by him provided it is within the limits of one third of his property or less. In that case, the will should be implemented if it is made for a permissible purpose.

A3 If iqamah is called out while you have reached the end of the supererogatory prayer, you should complete it, as you are not going to miss any portion of the obligatory prayer. But if you are in the beginning of the supererogatory prayer, it is better for you to break it. The Prophet (Pbuh) has said: If the iqamah is called out, there is no prayer except the obligatory one.

rA4 You are allowed to bequeath only one third of your property or less than that. And this son of yours is likely to repent. If he does not repent and insists on abandoning the prayer (salah) at the time of your death, the nearest of your male relatives from your father's side will inherit what remains of your property after giving your wife or wives their fixed shares, if you have got a wife or wives at the time of your death. But the fact that your son is a squanderer and spendthrift does not prevent his inheritance from you.

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