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Posted on: 09-Aug-2009
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Sharī'ah of Zakāh


Irrespective of the differences of the jurists in understanding the concept of zakāh, if the details of this directive which have reached us through the consensus of the Companions of the Prophet (sws) and their practical adherence, and which now stand validated through the consensus of the ummah are studied as regards their bases in the sharī‘ah, then they can be stated as:
1. Nothing except the tools of production, personal items of daily use and a fixed quantity called niṣāb are exempt from zakāh. It shall be collected annually on wealth of all sorts, livestock of all types and produce of all forms of every Muslim citizen who is liable to it.
2. Following are its rates:
(a) Wealth:2 ½% annually
(b) Produce:(i) 5 %: on all items which are produced by the interaction of both labor and capital, (ii) 10 % on items which are produced such that the basic factor in producing them is either labor or capital and (iii) 20% in items which are produced neither as a result of capital nor labor but actually are a gift of God.
(c) Livestock
– From 5 to 24 (camels): one she-goat on every five camels
– From 25 to 35: one one-year old she-camel or in its absence, one two-year old camel
– From 36 to 45: one two-year old she-camel
– From 46 to 60: one three-year old she-camel
– From 61 to 75: one four-year old she-camel
– From 76 to 90: two two-year old she-camels
– From 91 to 120: two three-year old she-camels
– Over 120: one two-year old she-camel on every forty camels and one three-year old on every fifty camels
(ii) COWS
– One one-year old calf on every thirty cows and one two-year old calf on every forty cows
(iii) GOATS
– From 40 to 120: one she-goat
– From 121 to 200: two she-goats
– From 201 to 300: three she-goats
– Over 300: one she-goat on every hundred goats
3. The heads for which zakāh is to be spent were never unclear. It was always spent on the poor and the needy and on the collective requirements of the Muslims. However, when the hypocrites in the time of the Prophet (sws) raised certain doubts about these heads, the Qur’ān unequivocally stated them:
إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاءِ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَاِبْنِ السَّبِيلِ فَرِيضَةً مِنْ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ.
Zakāh is only for the poor and the needy, and for those who are ‘āmils over it, and for those whose hearts are to be reconciled [to the truth], and for the emancipation of the slaves and for those who have been inflicted with losses and for the way of Allah and for the welfare of the wayfarers. This is an obligation decreed by the Almighty, the All-Knowing and the Wise. (9:60)
Here are some details of the heads of zakāh mentioned in this verse:
(a) الْفُقَرَاءِ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ (al-fuqarā wa al-masākīn):The poor and the needy.
(b) الْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا (al-‘āmilīna ‘alayhā):[1] the salaries of all employees of the state.
(c) الْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ (al-mu’allafat-i qulūbuhum): all political expenditures in the interest of Islam and the Muslims.
(d) فِي الرِّقَابِ (fi al-riqāb): for liberation from slavery of all kinds.
(e) َالْغَارِمِينَ (al-ghārimīn): for helping people who are suffering economic losses, or are burdened with a fine or a loan.
(f) ِفِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ (fī sabīlillāh):for serving Islam and for the welfare of the citizens.
(g) اِبْنِ السَّبِيلِِِ (ibn al-sabīl): for helping travellers and for the construction of roads, bridges and rest houses for these travellers.
4. One form of zakāh is the ṣadqah of fiṭr. It is the food of a person that he consumes in a day and is obligatory on every person whether young or old, and is given at the end of ramaḍān before the ‘īd prayer is offered. As per a narrative of Ibn ‘Abbās (rta) the purpose of the Prophet (sws) in making this mandatory for every Muslim was to cleanse the fasts from the effects of lewd and nonsensical talk and to provide food to the poor on ‘īd day.[2] In the time of the Prophet (sws), it was generally given in the form of grain. Consequently, he had fixed its quantity at one ṣā‘ which is equivalent to about 2.5 kg:
فَرَضَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ زَكَاةَ الْفِطْرِ صَاعًا مِنْ تَمْرٍ أَوْ صَاعًا مِنْ شَعِيرٍ عَلَى الْعَبْدِ وَالْحُرِّ وَالذَّكَرِ وَالْأُنْثَى وَالصَّغِيرِ وَالْكَبِيرِ مِنْ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَأَمَرَ بِهَا أَنْ تُؤَدَّى قَبْلَ خُرُوجِ النَّاسِ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ.  
The Prophet has regarded the ṣadqah of fiṭr as obligatory on every Muslim. It is one ṣā‘ of dates or one ṣā‘ of barley for every individual whether he is a free man or slave, man or woman, old or young and directed Muslims that it should be paid before people go out for the prayer. (Bukhārī, No: 1432)
If a state takes zakāh from its Muslim citizens, then there will be those who would collect it and those who would be its recipients. The Prophet (sws) has given advice to both: the recipients should try to please collectors who come to them even if they are subjected to some excess[3] and the collectors should not embezzle the money[4] and instead of calling the recipients to them, they should go to them and collect zakāh[5]; moreover, they should not try to extract the best things owned in wealth and should save themselves from the prayer of the oppressed because there is no barrier between it and the Almighty.[6]
This is all as far as the sharī‘ah regarding zakāh is concerned. However, since there exist some general misconceptions about it, the following points must remain in consideration:
Firstly, there is no basis in the Qur’ān and Sunnah for the condition of تمليك ذاتى (personal-possession) imposed by our jurists. Therefore, just as zakāh can be given in the personal possession of an individual, it can also be spent on projects of his welfare.[7]

Secondly, the reason for the Prophet’s (sws) prohibition for receiving zakāh for himself was that a portion from the fay wealth was reserved for him and his family. This portion remained reserved for this purpose for a long a period after him; however, such an arrangement could not have been forever nor was there any need for it to be forever. Consequently, the needs of the indigent and the poor of the Banū Hāshim can now also be fulfilled without any hesitation with the zakāh money.
Thirdly, a state can exempt certain things from zakāh keeping in view the circumstances. It also has the authority to fix a statutory exemption (niṣāb) on things on which it collects zakāh. It is evident from various narratives that the Prophet (sws) exempted horses and slaves from zakāh and fixed a niṣāb for it in wealth, produce and livestock.
This niṣāb is as follows:
(a) Wealth: 5 uqiyahs / 642 grams of silver
(b) Produce: 5 wasaqs / 653 kilograms of dates
(c) Livestock:5 camels, 30 cows, 40 goats
He is reported to have said: قَدْ عَفَوْتُ عَنِ الخَيْلِ وَالرَّقِيْقِ (I have exempted zakāh on horses and slaves).[8] He has similarly reported to have said:
لَيْسَ فِيمَا دُونَ خَمْسَةِ أَوْسُقٍ مِنْ التَّمْرِ صَدَقَةٌ وَلَيْسَ فِيمَا دُونَ خَمْسِ أَوَاقِيَّ مِنْ الْوَرِقِ صَدَقَةٌ وَلَيْسَ فِيمَا دُونَ خَمْسِ ذَوْدٍ مِنْ الْإِبِلِ صَدَقَةٌ.
There is no zakāh below five wasaqs of dates; there is no zakāh below five uqiyahs of silver and there is no zakāh below five camels. (Mu’aṭṭā, No: 578)
Fourthly, if the basis of the directive is taken in consideration, industrial produce of all forms, production of all forms based on various skills, rent of various items or buildings of all forms, salaries (reward for labor) and fees of all forms obtained in various ventures must be classified as produce and not as wealth; therefore, the zakāh imposed on them should be based on the rates specified by the sharī‘ah for land produce.

Fifthly, according to the above mentioned principle, zakāh on leased-out houses, properties and other rented items should be that which is levied on produce, and if they are not rented out, its rate should be that which is levied on wealth.

(Translated by Shehzad Saleem)

[1]. A little deliberation on the expression shows state employees in reality are العَامِليْنَ عَلَى اَخْذِ الضَّرَائِبِ وَرَدِّهَا اِلىَ المَصَارِفِ(those who collect zakāh and disburse it in its heads). Consequently, this is a very subtle expression which the Qur’ān has adopted here to convey its purport. No doubt, generally people have not been able to comprehend this expression; however the construction I have referred to above unfolds this meaning upon very little deliberation.
[2]. Abū Dā’ūd, No: 1609.
[3]. Muslim, No: 989; Abū Dā’ūd, No: 1589.
[4]. Muslim, No: 1833.
[5]. Abū Dā’ūd, No: 1591.
[6]. Muslim, No: 19.
[7]. For a detailed discourse on this topic, see Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tawḍiḥāt, 1st ed. (Lahore: Islamic Publications, 1956), 107-173.
[8]. Abū Dā’ūd, No: 1574.

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