Is it necessary to pay zakah for the wealth of small children and mentally ill people?

The Details of the Question

- If yes, who is to pay them?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Zakah is one of the deeds of worship included among the five pillars of Islam; therefore, the conditions that are necessary for the obligation in prayer (salah) and fasting are also sought in zakah. However, since zakah is a financial obligation with the content of social assistance and solidarity and it also concerns the rights of third parties, it has been a matter of debate whether the conditions of sanity and puberty sought in other deeds of worship are necessary in it.

Since zakah is considered a deed of worship, the obligation of wealthy non-Muslim citizens to pay zakah has never been in question; instead, other taxes were taken from them under different names.

Although there is consensus that children and mentally ill people are responsible for zakah called “ashar (tithe)” on products of the soil, two different views have been put forward as to whether zakah can be taken from their other property subject to zakah:

Abu Hanifa does not regard insane people and children who have not reached the age of puberty as liable for zakah, except for zakah on the products of the soil, which is a type of zakah taken as a part of the public law. According to the majority of fiqh scholars, the property of mentally ill people and children is subject to zakah. It is paid by the parents and guardians. Zakah is a financial worship that can be performed by proxy. The guardian is the guardian of the child and the mentally ill person regarding zakah too. He undertakes to perform the duty of fulfilling it; thus, he gives zakah on behalf of them.

Of those two different views, the view of the majority appears to be stronger and preferable because zakah is an obligation based on wealth; it is a responsibility toward the society and serves the realization of social justice. As a matter of fact, the following is stated in the Quran: “And in their wealth and possessions (was remembered) the right of the (needy,) him who asked, and him who (for some reason) was prevented (from asking).” (adh-Dhariyat 51/19)

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