The Payment of Zakat
1. Upon the expiry of the year, zakaat should be given immediately. It is not a good habit to delay in carrying out good deeds because it is possible that death may overcome a person and this duty will still remain on his shoulders. If the paying of zakaat is delayed to such an extent that the second year also expires, the person will be a sinner but he can still repent for this sin and pay the zakaat immediately. In other words, he should pay the zakaat that is incumbent upon him at some time or the other in his life and should not leave it out.
2. Zakaat is wajib on 1/40th of all the wealth which a person possesses. That is, $2.50 for every $100 or $1 for every $40.
3. At the time of giving the zakaat to a poor person, one must have the intention in his heart that he is giving this money as zakaat. If he merely gives it without making any intention, the zakaat will not be fulfilled. He will have to give the zakaat again, and he will be rewarded separately for the money that he had already given.
4. If the person did not make the intention of giving zakaat at the time of giving it to the poor person, then as long as that money is still in the possession of the poor person, he will be able to make the intention. By making the intention at this stage, his zakaat will be fulfilled. But if the poor person has already spent that money, then the intention that is made at this stage will not be considered. He will have to repeat the payment of his zakaat.
5. A person set aside $2 to be given as zakaat and decided that when he comes across a deserving person he will give it to him. However, when he gave it to the poor person he forgot to make the intention of zakaat. In this case, zakaat will be fulfilled. But if he did not make the intention of zakaat at the time of setting it aside, his zakaat will not be fulfilled.
6. A person has taken out his zakaat for distribution. He has the choice of giving all his zakaat to one person or distributing it among several persons. He also has the option of giving all the zakaat on one day or distributing it over several months.
7. It is better to give one poor person an amount which will be sufficient for him for that day so that he will not have to ask anyone else.
8. It is makruh to give one poor person an amount which makes the giving of zakaat wajib. However, if it is given, the zakaat will be fulfilled. It is permissible and not makruh to give an amount that is less than this.
9. A person comes to borrow some money and it is known that he is so poor and hard-pressed that he will be unable to fulfil this debt or that he is a very bad payer and never fulfils his debts. If the person gives him some zakaat money and also makes this intention in his heart that he is giving zakaat, then in such a case zakaat will be fulfilled despite the poor person regarding it as a debt.
10. If a poor person is given something as a gift, but in his heart the person has the intention of giving zakaat, even then zakaat will be fulfilled.
11. A poor person is owing you $10. You also have to pay zakaat for a sum of $10 or more. You forgave the poor person the $10 which he is owing you with the intention of it being zakaat. In such a case, zakaat will not be fulfilled. However, if you give him another $10 with the intention of zakaat, zakaat will be fulfilled. It will now be permissible to take this $10 from him as a fulfilment of his debt.
12. If a person has so much of silver in his possession that the zakaat on that silver amounts to 33 grams of silver and the market value of this 33 grams is two silver coins, then it is not permissible to give two silver coins in zakaat because these two coins do not weigh 33 grams. And if silver is paid in zakaat against silver goods, then the weight of the silver being paid is considered and not the price. However, in the aforementioned case, if gold, metal-base coins, clothing, etc. to the value of two silver coins is purchased and given as zakaat, or 33 grams of silver is paid as zakaat, then the zakaat will be fulfilled.
13. It is permissible for a person to appoint someone else to give the zakaat on his behalf. If the person to whom the money has been given does not make the intention of zakaat at the time of giving the money to a poor person, the zakaat will still be fulfilled.
14. You gave a person $2 to be given to another person as zakaat. However, this person did not give the very same $2 which you had given to him. Instead, he gave another $2 which was in his personal possession and thought in his mind that he will take the $2 that you had given him. Even in this case the zakaat will be be fulfilled. However, this is on the condition that your $2 is in his possession and he is now taking your $2 in place of his $2. But if he spends your $2 first and thereafter gives his own $2 to a poor person, zakaat will not be fulfilled. Alternatively, he has your $2 in his possession, but at the time of giving his $2 he did not make the intention of taking your R2 later. Even in this case, zakaat will not be fulfilled. He will now have to give $2 in zakaat again.
15. If you did not give him any money but merely asked him to give some zakaat on your behalf and he does this for you, the zakaat will be fulfilled. He should now take whatever amount he had paid from you.
16. If a person pays some zakaat on your behalf without your asking him to do so or without your permission, the zakaat will not be fulfilled. Now, even if you agree or accept his payment on your behalf, it will not be permissible. He does not even have the right to collect or ask you for that money.
17. You have given a person $2 to be given on your behalf as zakaat. This person has the choice of giving it to a poor person himself or asking a third person to give it on his behalf. When giving it to this third person he does not have to mention your name that this zakaat must be given on behalf of so and so person. If that person gives the money to a relative of his, or to his parents if he finds them in need, this is also permissible. However, if the person who was asked to distribute the zakaat is poor himself; he cannot take this money for his personal use. But, at the time of giving the money to him, if you told him to do whatever he likes with the money and that he could give it to whomsoever he wishes, it will be permissible for him to keep it for his personal use.
Zakat on produce of the land
1. A particular place was in the control of the kuffaar. These kuffaar used to live there and lead their normal lives in that place. Thereafter, the Muslims invaded that place, waged war with the inhabitants, captured the place and propagated Islam therein. The Muslim ruler confiscated all the land of that place and distributed it among the Muslims. In the Shariah, such land is referred to as "ushri" land. If all the inhabitants of that place accepted Islam willingly and there was no need to wage a war against them, all the land of that place will still be regarded as ushri land. All Arab lands are also ushri lands.
2. If a person owns an ushri land which has come down to him from his forefathers or purchases it from a Muslim who inherited it from his forefathers, zakaat will be wajib on whatever produce that comes out of this land. The method of paying zakaat for such a land is that the person will have to see how the land was irrigated. If it was irrigated entirely by rain water or if the crops were planted on the banks of a river or stream and these crops grew without having to irrigate them, then one tenth of the total produce of such a plantation will have to be given as zakaat. However, if the plantation was irrigated through any other mechanical means, one twentieth of the total produce will have to be given as zakaat. The same rule applies to an orchard which is on such a land. This is irrespective of the amount of produce, i.e. zakaat will be wajib irrespective of whether the produce is of a considerable amount or very little.
3. The same rule applies to corn, vegetables, esculent vegetables, fruit, flowers, etc.
4. If honey is obtained from an ushri land, from the jungle or a mountain, zakaat on this honey will also be wajib.
5. A person planted a tree in his yard or planted vegetables or some other seed and later it bore some fruit. Zakaat on such produce is not wajib.
6. An ushri land does not remain ushri when it is purchased by a kaafir. Later, if a Muslim repurchases it or obtains it in some other way, it will not become an ushri land.
7. This one tenth and one twentieth which we have mentioned, is it wajib on the person who owns the land or on the person who owns the produce of the land? There is a difference of opinion among the ulama in this regard. In order to facilitate matters, we generally say that it is wajib on the person who owns the produce of the land. If the land is given out on lease, zakaat will be wajib on the person who owns the produce. This is irrespective of whether he pays the rent in cash or gives some produce of the land as a form of payment. But if the seeds were provided by the land owner, zakaat will be wajib on both the land owner and the person who owns the produce according to their respective shares.
Who is Entitled to receive Zakat?
1. The person who possesses the nisaab of either gold or silver, or trade goods which equal the nisaab of either gold or silver is regarded as a rich person in the Shariah. It is not permissible to give zakaat money to him. Nor is it permissible for him to accept or consume zakaat money. Similarly, the person who has belongings which are not for the purposes of trade but are over and above his basic needs, is also considered to be a rich person. It is not permissible to give zakaat money to such a person as well. Furthermore, although he is regarded as a rich person, zakaat is not wajib on him.
2. The person who has very little wealth or has no wealth at all to the extent that he does not have sufficient food for one day is regarded as a poor person. It is permissible to give zakaat to such a person. It is also permissible for him to accept zakaat money.
3. Large utensils, expensive carpets, etc. which are very occasionally used in weddings and other functions are not regarded as necessary items.
4. The following things are regarded as necessities of life: a house to stay in, clothes that are worn, slaves for domestic purposes, and furniture that is in use. If a person possesses these things, he will not be regarded as a rich person irrespective of the value of these items. It is therefore permissible to give zakaat to such a person. In the same way, the books and other essentials of a learned person are also included among the necessities of life.
5. A person owns several properties from which he receives rent. The income of these properties is used to run his own home. Alternatively, a person possesses a few cows from which he receives a certain amount of income. Despite this, he has a very large number of dependents whereby he cannot live a comfortable life and always finds himself in difficulties. Nor does he have any wealth upon which zakaat could be wajib. It is therefore permissible to give zakaat to such a person as well.
6. A person has $1000 in cash with him. However, he is also in debt for an amount of over a thousand rands. It is permissible to give him zakaat as well. However, if his debt is less than $1000, then this amount that he is owing will be subtracted from the cash that he possesses. Thereafter we will have to see whether the balance that he has is more than the nisaab of zakaat or less than it. If the balance is more than the nisaab, zakaat cannot be given to him. But if it is less, then zakaat can be given to him.
7. A person may be a very rich person at home. However, while on a journey, all his money got stolen or exhausted in some other way to such an extent that he does not even have sufficient funds to reach his eventual destination. It will be permissible to give zakaat to such a person. Similarly, a person who is travelling for hajj and who may be a rich person can also be given zakaat money if all his money gets spent.
8. Zakaat cannot be given to a kaafir. It will have to be given to a Muslim. All forms of charity can be given to a kaafir except the following: zakaat, ushr, sadaqatul fitr, nazr, and kaffarah.
9. Zakaat funds cannot be used for the building of a musjid, for the shrouding and burial of a deceased person, for the payment of debts on behalf of a deceased person, or for any other noble purpose. As long as zakaat is not given to the rightful person, it will not be considered to be fulfilled.
10. Zakaat cannot be given to one's ascendents. That is, to one's parents, maternal and paternal grand-parents and even great grand-parents. In the same way, zakaat cannot be given to one's descendants. That is, to one's children, grand-children, great grand-children, etc. In the same way, the husband and wife cannot give zakaat to each other.
11. Apart from the above mentioned, it is permissible to give zakaat to all other relatives such as one's brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, maternal and paternal uncles and aunts, step father or step mother, step grandfather, father-in-law, mother-in-law, etc.
12. It is not permissible to give zakaat to immature children if their father is rich. If the children are mature and poor, but their father is rich, it will be permissible to give zakaat to them.
13. If the father of an immature child is not rich but the mother is, it will be permissible to give zakaat to that child.
14. It is not permissible to give zakaat to the progeny of Hadrat Faatimah radiallahu anha, the progeny of Hadrat Ali radiallahu anhu, Hadrat Abbas radiallahu anhu, Hadrat Ja'far radiallahu anhu, Hadrat Aqeel radiallahu anhu, Hadrat Haarith bin Abdul Muttalib radiallahu anhu. Similarly, the charities which have been made wajib by the Shariah cannot be given to the progeny of the above Sahabah. Such charities are, nazr, kaffarah, ushr, sadaqatul fitr. Apart from these, all other charities can be given to them.
15. It is permissible to give zakaat to one's Muslim servants, workers, employees, etc. However, this zakaat should not be included in their wages or salaries. Instead, it should be given separately as a gift. At the time of giving this gift to them, one should have the intention in his heart that he is giving zakaat.
16. It is permissible to give zakaat to one's foster mother and foster children.
17. The mahr of a woman was fixed at $1000. However, the husband cannot fulfil this due to poverty. It will be permissible to give zakaat to such a woman. It will also be permissible to give zakaat to her if her husband is rich but refuses to give, or if she has absolved him from giving the mahr. If the woman knows that if she had to ask her husband for her mahr, he will give it to her without hesitation, it will not be permissible to give zakaat to her.
18. A person gave zakaat to another person thinking that he is poor. Later, he learnt that this person was rich or he was a sayyid. Alternatively, he gave it to someone on a dark night and later realized that the person to whom he had given the zakaat was actually his mother or daughter, or any other relative to whom zakaat is not permissible. In all these cases, zakaat will be considered to be fulfilled and there will be no need to repeat the payment of zakaat. However, if the person to whom the zakaat was given learns that this was actually zakaat money and that he is not eligible to receive zakaat, he should return the zakaat money. If the person who gave the zakaat learns that the person to whom he had given the zakaat was actually a kaafir, he will have to give zakaat again.
19. A person has a doubt as to whether a certain person is rich or poor. Zakaat should not be given to him until it has been ascertained whether he is eligible to receive zakaat or not. If zakaat is given to him without ascertaining his financial position, the person should check with his heart and see to which side his heart is more inclined. If his heart tells him that the person is poor, zakaat will be fulfilled. If his heart tells him that the person is rich, zakaat will not be fulfilled and will therefore have to be repeated. But if he establishes the fact that he is indeed a poor person after having given the zakaat to him, then he does not have to give the zakaat again.
20. At the time of giving zakaat and all other forms of charity, one should first take one's relatives into consideration. However, when giving them this zakaat, they should not be told that it is zakaat so that they do not feel offended. It is mentioned in the Hadith that by giving charity to one's relatives one receives a double reward - one reward for giving charity, and one for showing kindness to one's relatives. After giving the relatives, if there is any remainder, it should be given to outsiders.
21. It is makruh to send the zakaat of one place to another place. However, it will not be makruh to do so in the following instances: (1) if one's poor relatives live at another place, (2) the inhabitants of that place are more deserving than the inhabitants of this place, (3) the inhabitants of that place are more involved in deeni activities. There is great reward in sending zakaat to students of deen and pious ulama.
Questions about Zakat
1. If a person mixes his halaal wealth with haraam money, zakaat will have to be given on the total amount.
2. If a person passes away without paying the zakaat which was wajib on him, zakaat will not be taken from his wealth. But if he makes a bequest that his zakaat must be paid from his wealth, then this zakaat will be taken from one third of his wealth irrespective of whether this one third will be sufficient for the payment of his zakaat or not. If his inheritors agree to give from the balance of his wealth (i.e. more than the one third), it will be permissible to take from this balance according to the amount that the inheritors specify.
3. If the creditor forgives his debtor from paying his debt after the expiry of one year, the creditor will not have to pay zakaat on this money for that year. However, if the debtor is a rich person, the creditor's forgiving him will be regarded as if he is destroying his wealth. The creditor will therefore have to give zakaat on this wealth. This is because the destroying of zakaatable wealth does not absolve one from paying zakaat.
4. The giving of optional charities is only mustahab when one's wealth is over and above one's necessities and the necessities of one's family members. If it is not so, it will be makruh to give optional charities. Similarly, it is also makruh to give all one's wealth to charity. However, if the person has full conviction on his trust in Allah Ta'ala and on his ability to exercise patience and there is no possibility of any harm befalling his family, it will not be makruh to do so. Instead, it will be better to give all his wealth in charity.