Fiqh 3.1: Zakah, definition
Zakah or alms tax can be defined as that portion of a man's wealth which
is designated for the poor. The term is derived from the Arabic verbal
root meaning "to increase." "to purify," and "to
bless." It find its origin in Allah's command to: "Take sadaqah
(charity) from their property in order to purify and sanctify them"
[at-Taubah 103]. That is why this kind of sadaqah is called zakah, for
by paying it, one is aspiring to attain blessing, purification, and the
cultivation of good deeds.
Taking into account its very nature, it is no wonder that zakah constitutes
one of the five pillars of Islam. It is associated with prayer (salah)
in eighty-two Qur'anic verses. Allah, the Exalted One, prescribed it in
His Book (The Qur'an), His Messenger corroborated it by his (sunnah),
and the community (ummah) by consensus upheld it. Ibn 'Abbas reported
that when the Prophet, upon whom be peace, sent Mu'azh ibn Jabal to Yemen
(as its governor), he said to him: "You are going to a people who
are People of the Scripture. Invite them to accept the shahadah: that
there is no god but Allah and I am His Messenger. If they accept and affirm
this, tell them that Allah, the Glorious One, has enjoined five prayers
upon them during the day and night. If they accept that, tell them also
that He has enjoined sadaqah upon their assets which will be taken from
the rich of the (Muslim) community and distributed to the poor. If they
accept that, refrain from laying hands upon the best of their goods and
fear the cry of the oppressed, for there is no barrier between Allah and
At-Tabarani relates in al-'Awsat and as-Saghir, on the authority of 'Ali,
that the Prophet said: "Allah has enjoined upon rich Muslims a due
to be taken from their properties corresponding to the needs of the poor
among them. The poor will never suffer from starvation or lack of clothes
unless the rich neglect their due. If they do, Allah will surely hold
them accountable and punish them severely." According to at-Tabarani:
"It was reported only by Thabit ibn Muhammad az-Zahid." Of Thabit's
credibility, al-Hafiz in turn says: "Thabit was an honest and trustworthy
person. AlBukhari and others related from him, and the rest of the narrators
in the chain are considered as accepted authorities."
In the early days of Islam at Makkah, no limit or restriction was placed
on the amount to be donated, for that decision was left to the individual
Muslim's conscience and generosity. In the second year of hijrah, according
to the widely known authorities, both the type and the quantity of zakah
revenues were determined, and detailed illustrations were provided.
Fiqh 3.2: Exhortation to Give Zakah in the Qur'an
At-Taubah 103 authorizes the Prophet, upon whom be peace, to take either
a stipulated amount of alms from the believers' holdings in the form of
the obligatory zakah, or a voluntary, unstipulated amount (zakah of tatawwul).
In this 'ayah, "purify" means to purify them from stinginess,
greed, and meanness, and a lack of remorse toward the poor and the wretched.
To sanctify them is to raise them in esteem through good deeds and blessings
so that they will be worthy of happiness both now and in the afterlife.
Fiqh 2.151 b:
In reference to the life hereafter, Allah reveals: "Lo! Those who
keep from evil will dwell amid gardens and watersprings, taking that which
their Lord gives them. For they were before doers of good. They used to
sleep but little of the night, and in the hours of the early dawn they
prayed for forgiveness.... In their wealth, the beggar and the outcast
had due share" [azh-Zhariyat 15-19]. Allah views beneficence and
righteousness as exclusive qualities of the pious. It is because of their
beneficence that they pray at night and ask Allah's forgiveness at dawn
as a way of worshipping and approaching Him. Their beneficence is likewise
in their giving to the needy their share of mercy and sympathy.
Allah further confirms: "And the believers, men and women, are protecting
friends of one another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, they
perform prayer and pay the zakah, and they obey Allah and His Messenger.
Upon them, Allah will have mercy" [at-Taubah 71].
Such are the people blessed by Allah and given His mercy-- those who
believe in Him, who take care of each other through support and love,
who exhort fairness and restrain lewd behavior, who have strong ties with
Allah through prayer, and who strengthen their mutual relations through
Finally, these people, as reflected in al-Hajj 41, are: "Those who,
if we give them power in the land, perform prayers and pay zakah, and
enjoin kindness and forbid inequity." Giving zakah is, therefore,
one of the reasons for which the righteous are given authority on earth.
Fiqh 3.3: Exhortation to Give Zakah in the Hadith
At-Tirmizhi relates from Abu Kabshah alAnmari that the Prophet, upon
whom be peace, said: "I swear upon three (things) and ask you to
memorize my words: Sadaqah taken from a property never decreases it; a
man who suffers injustice and is patient with it, Allah will grant him
strength; a man who starts begging, Allah will cause him to be poor."
Ahmad and at-Tirmizhi relate (and the latter graded it sahih) from Abu
Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said: "Allah
receives charity by His right hand, and then He causes it to grow for
each of you. Just as you raise a horse, colt, foal, or young weaned camel,
so that morsel becomes as large as the Mount of 'Uhud."
Of this hadith's content, Waki' says: "This is sanctioned by the
Qur'an: 'Do they not know that it is Allah alone who can accept the repentance
of His servants and is the (true) recipient of whatever is offered for
His sake - and that Allah alone is an acceptor of repentance, a dispenser
of grace?' [at-Taubah 104]. 'Allah deprives usurious gains of all blessing,
whereas He blesses charitable deeds with manifold increase.' [al Baqarah
Again, Ahmad relates, with a sound chain of narrators, that Anas said:
"A man from the tribe of Tameem came to the Messenger of Allah, upon
whom be peace, and said: 'O Messenger of Allah! I have plenty of property,
a large family, a great deal of money, and I am a gracious host to my
guests. Tell me how to conduct my life and how to spend.' The Messenger
of Allah, upon whom be peace, replied: 'Pay zakah out of your property,
for truly it is a purifier which purifies you, and be kind to your relatives,
and acknowledge the rights of the poor, neighbors, and beggars'."
It was reported from 'Aishah that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be
peace, said: "I swear upon three things: Allah does not equate one
who has a portion in Islam with one who does not. The portions of Islam
are three: prayer, fasting, and zakah. If Allah takes care of a man in
this world, He will take care of him on the Day of Judgment. If a man
likes a group of people, Allah will certainly include him among them.
As for the fourth, if I swear on it, I hope I will not commit a sin: that
if Allah conceals a man's sin in this world, He will certainly not expose
him on the Day of Judgment."
At-Tabarani relates in al-'Awsat, that Jabir reported: "A man said:
'O Messenger of Allah! What will be the gains for a man who pays zakah
on his assets?' The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said: 'For
one who pays zakah on his asssets, he will be removed from the evil in
On the same subject, al-Bukhari and Muslim relate that Jabir ibn 'Abdullah
reported: "I gave my allegience to the Messenger of Allah, upon whom
be peace, that I will establish salah (prayers) and zakah, and I will
give advice to every Muslim."
Fiqh 3.4: Punishment in the Qur'an for the Delinquents of Zakah
Allah says: "O you who believe! Most surely many of the doctors
of law and the monks eat away the property of men falsely and turn them
from Allah's way; and as for those who hoard treasures of gold and silver
and do not spend them for the sake of Allah--warn them of grievous sufferings
[in the life to come]. On the Day when that [hoarded wealth] shall be
heated in the Fires of Hell and their foreheads and their sides and their
backs branded with it, [it will be said to them:] 'These are the treasures
which you have hoarded for yourselves. Now taste of what you used to accumulate!'
[at-Taubah 34-35]." He also says: "And they should not think--they
who avariously cling to all that Allah has granted them out of His bounty--that
this is good for them. No, it is bad for them, for that which they hoard
will be hung about their necks on the Day of Judgment" [al-'Imran
Fiqh 3.4 a: Punishment in the Hadith for the Delinquents of Zakah
Ahmad, al-Bukhari, and Muslim relate from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger
of Allah, upon whom be peace, said: "No owner of a treasure who does
not pay zakah will be spared, for his treasure will be heated in the Fires
of Hell and then made into plates. His flanks and his forehead will be
branded with them until Allah pronounces judgment on His servants during
a day lasting fifty thousand years.
[The individual] will be shown his path, leading him either to Paradise
or to Hell. A camel owner who does not pay zakah will not be spared (either).
He will lay flat on a sandy, soft plain and they will run over him heavily
one after another until Allah pronounces judgment on His servants during
a day lasting fifty thousands years. [The individual in question] will
then be shown his path, leading him either to Paradise or to Hell. Equally,
no owner of goats who does not pay zakah (will be spared). He will lay
flat for them on a sandy plain, and the goats will run over him as heavy
as they will come and they will trample him with their hoofs and gore
him with their horns--with twisted horns or with no horns--one after another
until Allah pronounces judgment on His servants, during a day lasting
fifty thousand years, and [the individual in question] will be shown the
path, leading him either to Paradise or to Hell. They [the Companions]
asked: 'O Messenger of Allah, what about the horses?' He said: 'Horses
have goodness in their foreheads (or he said 'Goodness lies in the foreheads
of the horses') until the Day of Judgment. Horses are of three kinds:
they are a source of reward for the owner, they are a cover, or they are
a burden to a person. As to those [horses] that bring rewards, one who
raises and trains them for the sake of Allah will get a reward from Him
as well as all that they consume will be considered a reward for him from
Allah. For every stalk of grass in the meadow that one lets them graze,
there is a reward for him. For every drop of water that one lets them
drink from the creek, there is a reward.' He went on describing until
a reward was mentioned even for their urine and their feces.
'And for every step that they prance on elevated ground, there is a reward.
As for the one to whom they will provide cover [in the life hereafter],
he is the one who raises them for honor and dignity and remembers the
right of their backs and stomachs in plenty and adversity. As for the
one to whom they are a burden, he is the one who raises them for glory
and showing off to people.' They asked: 'O Messenger of Allah, what about
donkeys?' He said: 'Allah has not revealed to me anything in regard to
them except this one comprehensive verse: 'He who does an atom's weight
of good will see it, and he who does an atom's weight of evil will see
it' [az-Zalzalah 7]."
Al-Bukhari and Muslim relate from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet, upon
whom be peace, said: "Whoever is made wealthy by Allah and does not
pay zakah on his wealth, on the Day of Judgment it will become a bald-headed,
poisonous, male snake with two black spots over his eyes. The snake, on
the Day of Judgment, will encircle his neck, and bite his cheeks and say:
'I am your treasure, I am your wealth.' " Then he [the Prophet] recited
this 'ayah: " 'And let not those who hoard up that which Allah has
bestowed upon them of his bounty...' [al'Imran 180]."
Ibn Majah, al-Bazzar, and al-Baihaqi relate from Ibn 'Umar that the Messenger
of Allah, upon whom be peace, said: "O Muhajirun, beware of five
traits: if ever immorality spreads in a community and there is no sense
of shame on its occurrence or mentioning it [and people talk about it
as if nothing bad has taken place], diseases which were not present in
the time of their predecessors will spread among them. If they decrease
the measure and weight (of sold grains or food), they will be overcome
by poverty, their provisions will decrease and their ruler will be unjust.
If they refrain from paying the zakah due on their properties, they will
be deprived of rain, unless they get it only for the sake of their cattle.
If they renounce their commitment to Allah and His Messenger, they will
be governed by an enemy who is a stranger to them and who will take away
some of what they possess. If their rulers do not rule according to Allah's
Book, they will be afflicted by civil war. Allah forbid that these should
happen to you."
Al-Bukhari and Muslim relate from al-Ahnaf ibn Qays that he said: "I
was in the company of some men of Quraish, when a man (Abu Zharr al-Ghafari,
a companion of the Prophet) came with coarse hair, clothes, and appearance.
He stood up, greeted them and said: 'Inform those who hoard property that
a stone will be heated in the Fires of Hell and then placed on the nipples
of their breasts until it comes out from the top of their shoulders. It
will then be placed on the top of their shoulders until it comes out again
from the nipple of their breasts, and they will be shaken.' Then he left.
I followed him and sat near him, not knowing who he was. I said: 'These
people disliked what you said to them.' He observed: 'They do not understand
anything that my friend said to me.' I asked: 'Who is your friend?' He
replied: 'The Prophet, upon whom be peace. [One day he asked me]: 'Do
you see the Mount of Uhud?' I looked at the sun to see how much of the
day was left, as I thought that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace,
wanted to send me on an errand for him. I said: 'Yes.' Upon this he said:
'Nothing would delight me more than having gold equal to the bulk of Uhud
and spending all of it (in Allah's way) except three dinars.'
'Indeed, these people do not understand and go on accumulating riches.
By Allah! I neither ask them for this world, nor do I ask them anything
about religion until I meet Allah, The Exalted One.' "
Fiqh 3.7: Judgment on the Zakah Refrainer
As an obligation upon Muslims, zakah is one of the essential requirements
of Islam. If somebody disputed its obligation, he would be outside of
Islam, and could legally be killed for his unbelief unless he was a new
Muslim and could be excused for his ignorance.
As for the one who refrains from paying it without denying its obligation,
he would be guilty of committing a sin. Yet, this act does not place him
outside of Islam. It is the ruler's duty to take zakah from the defaulter
by force and rebuke him, provided he does not collect more than the stipulated
amount. However, in the views of Ahmad and ash-Shaf'i (in his earlier
opinion) the ruler could take half of the defaulter's money, in addition
to the calculated amount of zakah, as a punishment. This view is based
on what Ahmad, anNasa'i, Abu Dawud, al-Hakim, and al-Baihaqi have recorded
from Bahz ibn Hakim all the way back to his grandfather who said: "I
heard the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, say: 'Whether the camels
of the zakah payer are grown or baby camels, it makes no difference in
his reward if he gave them willingly. (However,) if someone refrains from
paying it, it will be taken from him along with half his property, for
it is a right of our Lord, the Blessed and the Exalted, not a right of
the house of Muhammad.'"
Asked about its chain, Ahmad ruled it good (hassan). Of Bahz, al-Hakim
says: "His traditions are authentic." Ash-Shaf'i, as alBaihaqi
says, did not include it for fiqhi consideration because . . . "this
hadith is not confirmed by the scholars of hadith."
If some people refrain from paying zakah knowing that it is due and that
they can afford to pay, they should be fought until they yield and pay.
Al-Bukhari and Muslim report that Ibn 'Umar heard the Prophet say: "I
have been ordered to fight people until they say that none has the right
to be worshipped but Allah, and that Muhammad is His Messenger, and they
uphold the prayers, and pay the zakah. If they do this, their lives and
properties will be safe, except for what is due to Islam, and their accounts
are with Allah."
Abu Hurairah is reported to have said: "When Allah's Messenger,
upon whom be peace, died and Abu Bakr succeeded him as caliph, some Arabs
apostasized, causing Abu Bakr to declare war upon them. 'Umar said to
him: 'Why must you fight these men?', especially when there is a ruling
of the Prophet, upon whom be peace: 'I have been called to fight men until
they say that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and whoever
said it has saved his life and property from me except when a right is
due in them, and his account will be with Allah.' Abu Bakr replied: 'By
Allah! I will fight those who differentiate between salah and zakah because
zakah is the due on property. By Allah! If they withheld even a young
she-goat ( 'anaq) that they used to pay at the time of Allah's Messenger,
upon whom be peace, I would fight them.' Then 'Umar said: 'By Allah! It
was He who gave Abu Bakr the true knowledge to fight, and later I came
to know that he was right.' "
The same hadith narrated by Muslim, Abu Dawud, and atTirmizhi has the
following variant: "If they witheld the 'iqal, the rope of the camel,"
instead of "'anaq, young she-goat."
Fiqh 3.8: Who is Obliged to Pay Zakah
Zakah must be paid by every Muslim who has a nisab, which is the minimum
of one's holdings liable to zakah. The nisab is conditioned by the following:
1 Zakah should be paid on any amount of money remaining after
meeting the expenses for such necessities as food, clothes, housing, vehicles
and craft machines.
2 A complete year of Islamic calendar should pass, starting from
the very day of the nisab's possession, without any decrease during the
year. In case of its decrease (being less than nisab), the year count
(hawl;) starts from the day of the nisab completion.
Commenting on the issue, an-Nawawi said: "In our view and the views
of Malik, Ahmad, and the majority of scholars, the amount of property
liable for payment of zakah, such as gold, silver, or cattle, is tied
to the completion of nisab through the turn of a whole year. If the nisab
decreases in any time of the year, [the counting of] the year discontinues.
Later, if the nisab is completed, the year count is resumed from the time
of its completion."
On the same subject, Abu Hanifah holds: "What matters isthe availability
of nisab at the beginning and end of the year. Its decrease at any time
in between does not matter, even though the zakah payer had two hundred
dirhams and he lost all but one dirham during the year, or if he had forty
sheep, all of which died except for one during the year. If, at the end
of the year, he had two hundred dirhams, or forty sheep, then he must
pay zakah on all of that. This condition is not applicable to the zakah
of plantations and fruits, for their zakah should be paid on the harvest
day. Allah, the Exalted One, says: 'And pay the due thereof upon the harvest
day' [alA'raf 142]."
Al-'Abdari elaborated that: "The holdings subject to zakah are of
two kinds. The first kind grows by itself: crops and fruits. The second
kind is used for growing and production: money, merchandise, and cattle.
In the former case, zakah should be paid at the time of harvest. In the
latter case, it should be paid at the end of the haul. This was the opinion
of all jurists as reported in anNawawi's al-Majrnu'."
Fiqh 3.9: Zakah on the Holdings of Infants and Mentally Retarded People
The guardian of a child or of a mentally retarded person must pay zakah
on his behalf from his property if it constitutes a nisab.
'Amr ibn Shu'aib reported from his father backed up by a chain of sources
going back to 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom
be peace, said: "One who becomes the guardian of an orphan with property
must trade on his behalf and not leave it passive in order to avoid depletion
of the property by sadaqah."
However, this hadith has a weak link. Still, al-Hafiz affirms that: "There
is a similar hadith of the mursal type in the compilation of ash-Shaf'i,
who confirmed that it is considered a sound one. 'Aishah used to set aside
zakah for the orphans who were under her protection."
At-Tirmizhi concludes that: "Jurists differ on this issue. More
than one companion of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said that zakah
may be taken from an orphan's property. Among these are: 'Umar, 'Ali,
'Aishah, and Ibn 'Umar. This view is also supported by Malik, ash-Shaf'i,
Ahmad, and Ishaq. Another group, including Sufyan and Ibn al-Mubarak,
hold that: 'Zakah should not be taken out of an orphan's property.' "
Fiqh 3.9 a: The Insolvent Debtor
Whoever has property must pay its proper zakah. If the property is indebted,
he may first pay off his debt, then in case the remainder is enough to
constitute a nisab, he must pay zakah. If he does not hold the nisab,
he does not have to pay it since he is poor. The Messenger of Allah, upon
whom be peace, said: "Only the wealthy are required to give charity."
This hadith is related by Ahmad and al-Bukhari. The latter records it
in mu'allaq form. The Prophet also said: "Zakah is levied on the
rich and paid to the poor." It is all the same, whether he is indebted
to Allah or to man, because one hadith states: "Allah's debt is more
deserving of fulfillment."
Fiqh 3.10: Zakah Owed by a Deceased Person
If a person dies before he pays zakah, then it must be taken from his
According to ash-Shaf'i, Ahmad, Ishaq, and Abu Thaur, it is obligatory
that zakah be paid from the property of the deceased, and this payment
receives preference over debt, legacy, and inheritance for Allah says:
"... after payment of legacies and debts is what you leave ..."
[an-Nisa' 12]. Zakah is a debt payable to Allah.
A man came to the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, and said: "My
mother died while she still had to make up one month of fasting. Shall
I make it up for her?" The Prophet replied: "If there was any
debt upon your mother, would you pay it off for her?" The man answered:
"Yes." The Prophet then observed: "A debt to Allah is more
deserving to be paid off." This is related by alBukhari and Muslim.
Fiqh 3.10 a: The Niyyah (Intention)
Since the payment of zakah is an act of worship, its validity depends
upon the expression of one's intention. That is, the zakah payer should
pay it for the sake of Allah; he should make up his mind, with all of
his heart, that zakah is an obligation to be discharged. Allah says: "And
they are commanded no more than this: to worship Allah, sincere in their
faith in Him alone" [al-Bayyinah 5].
It is related in al-Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet, upon whom be
peace, said: "The value of [one's] deeds is determined by [one's]
intentions; and thus for each shall be according to his intentions."
Malik and ash-Shaf'i say that the intention is to be made at the time
of rendering zakah. Abu Hanifah holds that the intention must be present
at the time of payment or when zakah is being set aside from one's assets.
Ahmad's view is that it is permissible to express the niyyah a little
earlier before payment.
Fiqh 3.11: Payment of Zakah in Due Time
Zakah must be paid immediately at its due time. Deferring payment of
zakah is prohibited, unless the payer for some valid reason cannot pay
it on time. In such a case, he may wait until he is able to pay it. It
is related by Ahmad and al-Bukhari that 'Uqbah ibn al-Harith said: "Once
I performed the 'asr prayer with the Prophet, upon whom be peace. When
he concluded the prayer, he hurriedly went to his house and retumed immediately.
Noticing the amazed faces, he said: 'I left at home a piece of gold which
was meant for sadaqah, and I did not want to let it remain a night in
my house, so I ordered it to be distributed.'"
Ash-Shaf'i and al-Bukhari (the latter in his Tarikh) relate from 'Aishah
that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: "Whenever sadaqah which
is payable is mixed with a property, it will destroy that property."
The same hadith is related by al-Humaydi with this addition: "If
you have to pay sadaqah which is payable, then it must be set aside, or
the unlawful [property] will destroy the lawful one."
Fiqh 3.11 a: Paying Zakah in Advance
It is permissible for zakah to be paid for even two years in advance.
Al-Zuhri did not see any problem in paying his zakah before the hawl.
Al-Hasan was once asked if a man who had paid his zakah for three years
in advance fulfilled his obligation. Al-Hasan answered in the affirmative.
Of this view, ash-Shaukani said: "This was the view of ash-Shaf'i,
Ahmad, and Abu Hanifah. It was supported by al-Hadi and al-Qasim."
Al-Mu'ayyad-billah also subscribes to this opinion as being better, but
he says that Malik, Rabi'ah, Sufyan ath-Thauri, Dawud, Abu 'Ubayd ibn
al-Harith, and an-Nasir (who comes from the Prophet's family) held that
one's obligation is not discharged if the zakah is paid before the expiration
of the year. They formulated their stance on the Prophet's hadith, already
mentioned, which makes the zakah mandatory for the payer only when he
has his possessions for a year. However, this does not invalidate the
view of those who maintain that paying zakah in advance is lawful, for
undeniably the obligation of zakah is associated with the expiry of one
full year. The difference is only on the point of whether one's obligation
is discharged if the zakah is paid before the year has expired."
Ibn Rushd sums up the subject: "The controversy arises from the question
whether it is an act of worship or an obligation owed to the poor. The
group which considers it an act of worship, like salah (prayers), does
not agree that it should be paid before its time. On the other hand, the
group which views it as similar to the case of deferred obligatory dues
approves its voluntary payment in advance." In support of his view,
ashShaf'i relates a hadith from 'Ali that the Prophet, upon whom be peace,
asked for al-'Abbas' sadaqah before its due date.
Fiqh 3.12: Invoking Blessing for the Zakah Payer
It is desirable that the recipient invoke blessing for the zakah payer
at the time of its payment, for Allah says: "Take alms of their property
that you may purify and sanctify them and pray for them. Verily, your
prayers are a comfort for them" [at-Taubah 103]. It is related from
'Abdullah ibn Abu Awfa that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace,
on receiving sadaqah would say: "O Allah, bless the family of Abu
Aufa." This is related by Ahmad and others.
Wa'il ibn Hajr reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, prayed
for a man who had offered a fine she-camel in his zakah payment: "May
Allah bless him and make his camels beneficial to him." This is related
Ash-Shaf'i says: "According to this hadith, the leader may pray
for the almsgiver upon receiving his payment by saying: 'May Allah reward
you in turn of what you have offered, and may Allah bless what you still
Fiqh 3.13: Holdings subject to zakah
Islam enjoined zakah on crops, fruit, livestock, merchandise, minerals,
gold, silver, and treasures.
Fiqh 3.13 a: 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.
Fiqh 3.13 b: 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 alHafizh 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.
Fiqh 3.14: 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-Tirmizhi relates: "I asked al-Bukhari if he confirms this hadith.
He said: 'It is authentic.' " At-Tirmizhi 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
Fiqh 3.14 a: 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.
Fiqh 3.15: 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
'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
'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
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.
Fiqh 3.16: 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.
Fiqh 3.16 a: 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.
Fiqh 3.17: 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.
Fiqh 3.17 a: 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."
Fiqh 3.18: 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 Zharr 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 Zharr'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.
Fiqh 3.19: 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.
Fiqh 3.20: 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-Munzhir.
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
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.
Fiqh 3.21: 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.
Fiqh 3.21 a: 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'azh 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-Munzhir 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.
Fiqh 3.22: 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'azh 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-Tirmizhi 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
Fiqh 3.23: 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
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.
Fiqh 3.24: 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."
Fiqh 3.24 a: 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
The saying of the Prophet, which uses the expression allazhi yaqtazhi,
reads: "From what the heavens water, a tithe [is due], and from what
is watered by irrigation [nazh] a half a tithe." The relative pronoun
ma is used to mean al-lazhi, 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
Fiqh 3.26: 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
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
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."
Fiqh 3.28: 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'azh 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.
Fiqh 3.29: 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
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-Munzhir 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
Likewise, al-Kamal Ibn al-Humam, a leading Hanafiyyah, considers the
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-Munzhir 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
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.