For whom is Zakah fard? Will you give information about the ways of giving zakah, conditions for being liable to pay zakah, the time to give zakah and to whom to give zakah?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The ways of giving Zakah:

Zakah for gold, silver, cereals, domestic animals and commercial commodities that are subject to zakah can be paid by giving some of those goods themselves or their equivalents. It is up to the person who pays zakah. Accordingly, a person who has gold can pay its zakah as gold, fabrics, cereals, silver, etc. However, it is better to prefer the way that is more useful for the poor.

Zakah for something that has reached the amount called nisab can be given to the poor without waiting for one year to pass because the amount of nisab, which is the cause for the obligation of zakah, is present. It is permissible to pay a debt before its time is due. It is a deed that is favorable for the poor. However, if the wealth has not reached the amount of nisab, it is not permissible to pay zakah for it before its time is due. If something has reached the amount of nisab, it is permissible to pay zakah for a few years for it. If this amount is present at the end of the year, zakah will have been paid. If the amount is less than nisab amount, the money paid will be regarded as sadaqah. If it has increased, zakah is given for the difference.

* If zakah is given to a poor person who has a lot of children and if this amount is divided into the number of the family members, if no member receives as much as nisab amount, zakah given to them is not regarded as nisab amount. There is no drawback to such payments.

* If a person allows a poor person to live in his house freely with the intention of zakah, it is not regarded as zakah because the poor person is not given anything.

* In commercial partnerships, each partner is not regarded as a person who has to pay zakah based on the total amount of goods. If the share of each partner reaches the amount of nisab, each one of them has to pay zakah. If the share of a partner does not reach the amount of nisab, he does not pay zakah if he has no other goods.

Conditions For Being Liable to Pay Zakah:

1. The person to give zakah must be a Muslim, sane and of age (have reached the age of puberty). Zaka is not fard for non-Muslims, mad people, and children who have not reached the age of puberty. According to Imam Shafii, if children and mentally ill people have property, zakah is to be given from that property. Their guardians are to give zakah for them.

2. The person who will give zakah must have property (wealth) equal to or more than nisab amount, apart from his basic needs (hawaij al-asliyya) and his debt, if any. A person who does not have property equal to or more than nisab amount does not have to give zakah. Nisab is the amount of property determined by Shari’ah for zakah to be fard. This amount varies from property to property.

3. The property must also have the ability to increase for zakah to become fard. Gold and silver coins and ornaments, any goods or animals used in trade are subject to zakah; the animals that are grazed in the fields to reproduce or to milk are also subject to zakah because there is an increase in them.

4. The property from which zakah is to be given must be in the hands of the owner himself; that is, the owner must be the full owner of the property. Therefore, if a woman has not received her mahr from her husband, zakah is not necessary for that mahr. Zakah is not necessary for pledged property either because that property is in return for a debt. There is no full ownership of the property. Similarly, a debtor is not liable for zakah due to property that is in return for his debt. A person who is on a journey is liable for zakah for his property because even if his property is not with him, a deputy or proxy may manage his property.

5. A full year must pass for the property from which zakah is to be paid. It is called hawl al-hawalan because during this period, the property becomes valuable and increases. The amount of nisab must exist both at the beginning and at the end of the year. A temporary decrease in this amount during the year does not prevent zakah. The basis for calculating zakah is the lunar year, which is 354 days.

When is Zakah Paid?

According to the strongest and soundest view, zakah on the goods and money for which zakah is to be paid must be given immediately after one year has passed, as soon as the year ends. It is not permissible to delay it without an excuse. It is a sin. According to another view, giving zakah is not urgent. It does not have to be given immediately at the end of the year. The person for whom zakah is fard can do it whenever he wishes as he is alive. If he dies without giving zakah, he becomes a sinner then. However, this view is weak.

To whom to give zakah:

The people to whom zakah is given are divided into seven groups: the poor Muslims, the needy, debtors, travelers, mukatabs (contracted slaves), mujahids, and amils (zakah collectors):

1) Poor (Faqir): A person who does not have property equal to or more than the amount of nisab apart from his needs is called poor. Even if such a person has a house, household goods and money equal to his debt, he is still regarded as poor.

2) Miskin: A poor person who does not own anything and needs to beg for food and clothing.

3) Debtor: What is meant by debtor is a person who does not own nisab amount of property more than his debt, or a person who has property used by someone else and it is impossible for him to take it back. Giving zakah to such a debtor is better than giving it to a poor person who has no debt.

4) Passenger: What is meant by a traveler is a poor person whose property is in his hometown but who has nothing with him. Such a man can only receive zakah as much as the amount he needs; it is not halal for him to take more than he needs. However, it is better for such people to borrow money when possible than to receive zakah.

A person who loses his property while staying in his own country and thus becomes needy is also considered a traveler. Such people are not required to give the remainder of the zakah money they have received to the poor as sadaqah when they take their property back afterwards.

5) Mukatab: It means a male or female slave who has made an agreement with his/her master to be freed in return for a price. Zakah can be given to a slave who is in such debt in order to free him/her as soon as possible. However, a person cannot give zakah to his own mukatab slave because the benefit of it will return to him.

6) Mujahid: What is meant by mujahid is a person who is deprived of food, weapons and other things though he voluntarily wants to join the war in the way of Allah. Zakah can be given to such a person to meet his needs. It is called: “Infaq fi sabilillah = spending in the way of Allah”.

7) Amil: What is meant by Amil is a person who is assigned by the administrator to collect the zakah of the goods in a region. He is also called “collector”. Such an official can be given enough zakah for the needs of his family and himself during his work even if he is not poor.

Zakah can be given to each of the seven groups of people shown above. A person can give zakah to only one of them, or distribute his zakah to some or all of them. However, it is better to give zakah that does not reach nisab amount to only one of them because it will meet that need.
Although it is permissible to give nisab amount of zakah to a poor person, it is makruh. However, if the poor person has some debt or has a large family, and if he shares this zakah with them and if the amount that is left to him of is less than nisab, it is not makruh.

A poor person cannot sue a rich person in court by asking for zakah of his property because giving zakah to that plaintiff is not a responsibility. Besides, since zakah is a deed of worship, it is left to the owner’s understanding of religion

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