Zakat: A Gift to the Poor

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Zakat is paid on the surplus of wealth which is left over after the passage of a year (Lunar Year). It is thus a payment on the accumulated wealth, leaving our animal and agricultural yield. Zakat is paid at almost a uniform rate of 2 1/2%. The minimum standard of surplus of wealth over which Zakat is charged is known as Nisab. It differs with different kinds of property. In case of silver it is 52 1/2 Tolas (634 grams), in case of gold it is 7 1/2 Tolas (88 grams). The Nisab for cash is the same as that of gold and silver.
Conditions that make Zakat Obligatory
There are two conditions for Zakat to be obligatory on the wealth.
Being in possession of Nisab i.e. possessing property in excess of a minimum exemption limit.
On completion of one Lunar year on the wealth.
According to the Hanafi school of thought, if a person possesses wealth equal to or in surplus of Nisab in the beginning and at the end of the lunar year, (even though in between the year, the wealth was less than the Nisab), Zakat is obligatory, but if at the end of the lunar year, if the wealth is less than the Nisab(though one had wealth equal to or in surplus during the year) Zakat is not obligatory. According to Shafie, the passage of one lunar year is a must on the wealth (Nisab) (in Hanbali almost a year). The Zakat is calculated on the day on which a year is completed on that wealth (Nisab).
On Whom Zakat is Obligatory
Zakat is obligatory on every adult Muslim man and woman provided the above two conditions are fulfilled. According to Imam Malik, Shafie and Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal, Zakat is obligatory on the wealth of the minor and insane person, and it has to be paid by the guardian. According to Imam Abu Hanifa it is not obligatory. Since Zakat is an act of worship, the intention is a must and hence it is not obligatory on the wealth of a minor and the insane person.
To Whom Zakat cannot be Given
Zakat cannot be given to a person who owns atleast 7 1/2 tolas of gold or 52 1/2 tolas of silver or equivalent wealth in cash, kind or in trade goods. If Zakat money is given to such a person, then the obligation will not be discharged. For such a person to receive and accept Zakat is forbidden, and to use it is haram. If a person owns household goods over and above that which are necessary for his normal use, such as carpets, utensils or other goods which are owned and kept in possession, but are hardly in frequent use, then such goods do not come under essentials, but in accumulated wealth, and Zakat cannot be given to the person possessing them.
To some relatives: Zakat cannot be given to one’s mother, father, paternal and maternal grandparents, great grand-parents, etc. Likewise, Zakat cannot be given to one’s offspring-sons, daughters, grand-children, great grand-children, etc. Zakat cannot be given by husband to wife, nor by wife to husband. Except for these, Zakat can be given to other relatives such as brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces or nephews.
To children: The position of a minor child is linked with his or her father. If the father is wealthy, then the child will also be considered as rich and Zakat cannot be given to him If the father is poor enough to receive Zakat, but the mother is rich, then Zakat could be given to the child because the child’s financial position is linked with that of the father, not the mother.
To Sayyeds: Sayyeds are the descendants of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) through his daughter Fatima. Zakat as well as Sadaqah and Fitra cannot be given to them.
Zakat cannot be given to a person in payment of services rendered by him or in payment of wages to a teacher, caretaker, etc. It can, however, be given to such a person as a gift, if desired.
Zakat cannot be given to domestic or other servants as wages.
Zakat: Essence of Giving to Those Who Need
The word Zakat means both ‘purification’ and ‘growth’. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need, and, like the pruning of plants, this cutting back, balances and encourages new growth.
The Qur’an always emphasizes on the issue of feeding the hungry and helping those who are in need, and the more you help, the more God helps you. And the more you give, the more God gives you. Since the month of Ramadan is the month of blessings, the month of forgiveness, the month of doing all the good deeds, and the good deeds are multiplied during that month, so people try to give their zakat in the month of Ramadan to get more and more blessings. When you give, you feel a special gift from the Almighty in your heart. You feel that you are taking care of others as God is taking care of you.
Zakat on Woman’s Mehr
According to Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik, the wife need not pay Zakat on the Mehr amount still due by her husband. However Zakat will have to be paid on the amount she has claimed, provided it is equivalent to or more than the Nisab and on which one year has been completed. According to Imam Shafie, the wife has to pay the Zakat every year (though she herself is not claiming the Mehr, even though it can be claimed). According to Hanbali, the wife has to pay the Zakat for the entire number of years at the time when she gets it.
Zakat on Business Goods or Stock-in-Trade
All types of goods for sale, whatever may be its form, whether hand made or machine products or fruits or books or jewellery or clothes or cattle or property brought with the intention of buying and selling etc., are liable for zakat, provided it is in one’s possession for one complete lunar year and the rate of zakat applicable is 2 1/2% on its total value. The prescribed limit on goods is after conversion, in terms of its value, the total amount thus evaluated must be equivalent to the price of 634 grams of silver. If less, then Zakat is not obligatory.
Zakat on Company or Partnership, Silver, Gold, Currency and Shares
If any wealth or property is held jointly by two or more persons, then according to Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik, Zakat is not obligatory on any person until each individual’s share is equal to the value of the Nisab.
Zakat on Silver, Gold, Currency and Shares
The minimum prescribed limit on which Zakat becomes obligatory on silver is 52 1/2 Tolas (634 grams), and of gold 7 1/2 Tolas (88 grams) and is known as Nisab. Zakat on silver or gold items is one fortieth of its weight, i.e. 2 1/2%. Zakat on silver or gold is not calculated on its value, but on its weight. However if one possesses some gold and some silver and neither of them is in the prescribed limit, then if their total cost is equal to the price of 634 grams. of silver, Zakat becomes due on it.
Zakat on the Ornaments of a Woman
Zakat is due on all the gold and silver ornaments, jewellery, and gold or silver lace woven into clothes, gold thread embroidered dresses for women etc. Hazrat Umm Salmah says that she used to put on (gold) bracelets. When she asked the Prophet (Pbuh) whether it was Kanz (hoarded wealth), he replied:
“When a piece of property reaches up to the prescribed limit and Zakat is duly paid on it, it is not Kanz”.(Abu Dawood). Imam Abu Hanifa, his disciples and some scholars hold the above opinion. According to Imam Malik, Shafie, Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal and other scholars, there is no Zakat on the woman’s ornaments. According to some other scholars, the Zakat on ornaments is due only once in a lifetime. The difference of opinion among scholars is only on the ornaments in use by the woman, but there is a consensus among all the scholars that Zakat is liable on the excess of the ornaments held in possession as wealth.
Zakat on the Bank Deposit and on Provident Fund
Both these fall under the status of debt. According to the Hanafi school of thought: Both of them are liable for Zakat for all the years and it has to be paid, when out of it, an amount equivalent to the value of 10 1/2 Tolas of silver or more is claimed. According to the Hanbali school of thought, Zakat is liable on both for all the years. It has to be paid when an amount equivalent to the Nisab or more is claimed.
According to the Maliki school of thought, the Zakat on Bank deposit is liable for all the years and it has to paid when the amount is received. On the provident fund, since the person does not have any power to claim it, so Zakat is liable at the time when it is received and it has to be paid for one year only. According to the Shafie school of thought, the Zakat on the Bank Deposit has to be paid every year. The Zakat on provident fund has to be made for all the years and it has to be paid when he is entitled to receive it, though he may claim it or not in time.
Zakat on Agricultural Produce (Ushr) (fruit vegetable and flowers)
The Prophet (Pbuh) said: “On a land irrigated by rain water or by natural water channels or if the land is wet due to a nearby water channel, Ushr (i.e. one-tenth) is compulsory (as Zakat); and on the land irrigated by the well, half of an Ushr (i.e. one twentieth i.e. 5%) is compulsory (as Zakat on the yield of the land)”.
A basic principle has been laid down for the Zakat in the agricultural produce. If the land is irrigated by artificial methods, one twentieth part (5%) of the yield is to be paid, if it is irrigated by rainfall, streams, rivers, fountains or by the inner moisture of the earth, i.e., by natural resources of water, then one tenth (Ushr) 10% is to be paid as Zakat. There is some difference of opinion whether Ushr is levied on all types of agricultural yield or on some particular types.
According to Imam Abu Hanifa, Zakat is to be paid on all types of agricultural yield, provided the aim of cultivation is to improve upon the land and make it more useful for growing of crops. Thus only fuel, bamboo, grass and trees which bear no fruits are exempted from Zakat. He considers Zakat to be compulsory even on vegetables and fruits, which according to some Hadith, are exempted from Zakat. The scholars have reconciled the two views saying that the exemption granted in case of vegetables implies that the proceeds of the Zakat are not to be sent to the Bait ul Mal, but the owner may himself distribute it among the poor.
Ushr is to be paid at the time of harvest. Whereas in the other types of Zakat, one should be in possession of the wealth for one complete year.
Zakat on Animals
Zakat is obligatory on goats, sheep, cows, buffaloes and camels which graze on wild grass, plant leaves and on some feed, now and then given by the owner, and on the above animals meant for sale.
The Prophet (Pbuh) said: “By Allah in whose hand my life is, whoever had camels or cows or sheep and did not pay their Zakat, those animals will be brought on the Day of Resurrection far bigger and fatter than before and they will tread him under their hooves, and will butt him with their horns and (those animals will come in circle) when the last does its turn, the first will start again and this punishment will go on till Allah has finished the judgments amongst the people.” (Bukhari)
Zakat on Minerals and Buried Wealth / Treasure
Zakat on minerals and hidden wealth is one twentieth 5%. According to Imam Abu Hanifa, minerals are classified into three groups:
1. Gold, Silver, Brass, Bronze, Iron etc.
2. Crude Oil, etc.
3. Diamonds, precious stones etc.
Zakat on the first group only is Waajib (compulsory) and is to be paid at the time of acquiring. Here, minimum period of one year in possession does not apply.
Zakat -ul- Fitr
“¢ Zakat -ul -Fitr is a type of Sadaqah which must be paid by every Muslim, young and old, male and female, free and slave, at the end of the month of fasting (Ramadan).
“¢ The purpose of Zakat -ul- Fitr is to purify one who fasts, from any indecent act or speech and to help the poor and needy.
“¢ Zakat ul Fitr is incumbent on every free Muslim who possesses one Sa of dates or barley (One Sa is equal to approximately 3 kgs) which is not needed as a basic food for himself or his family for the duration of one day and night. Every free Muslim must pay Zakat ul Fitr for himself, his wife, children, and servants. (One Sa’ equals approximately three kilograms).
“¢ The required amount of Zakat ul Fitr is one Sa’ of wheat, rice or corn or similar items considered as basic foods.
“¢ Abu Hanifa made it permissible to set aside, as Zakat ul Fitr, an equivalent value and also said that if the payer pays in wheat, one half of a Sa’ would be sufficient.
“¢ Most scholars believe that it is permissible to pay Zakat ul Fitr a day or two before Eid. According to Abu Hanifa, it is permissible to pay it even before Ramadan. Al-Shafi holds the view that it is permissible to do so at the beginning of Ramadan. Malik and Ahmad maintain that it is permissible to pay it only one or two days in advance.
As-Sadaqat (here it means Zakat) is only for the Fuqara (the poor who do not beg) and Al-Miskeen (the poor who beg) and those employed to collect funds and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined towards Islam.