Excerpt from Tajuddin B. Shu`aib's book Essentials
of Ramadan, The Fasting Month
Charity in Islam is called Zakat.
Zakaat (alms) is the name of what a believer returns out
of his or her wealth to the neediest of Muslims for the sake of the Almighty Allah. It is
called Zakaat because the word Zakaat is from Zakaa which means, to increase, purify and
Who Should Give Zakaat
The obligation of Zakaat is mandatory on every Muslim who
possesses the minimum Nisaab, whether the person is man, woman, young, old sane or insane.
Because the proof of Zakaat in Al-Qur`an and Sunnah is general and does not exclude young
or insane. Allah (SWT) stated that: "Of their goods take alms so that thou mightiest
purify and sanctify them..." (Al-Qur`an, 9: 103)
Imam Ibn Hazim said that every Muslim young or old sane or
insane needs to cleanse his or her wealth with Zakaat because of generality of the
evidence. Anas bin Malik reported that the Messenger of Allah (saas) said: "Trade
with the money of the orphan, lest it is eaten up by Zakaat." (At-Tabraani) In
another Hadith `Amru bin Shuaib related from his grandfather that the Messenger of Allah
"Whoever is entrusted with money of an orphan should
trade with it and should not leave it sitting to be used up by charity." (Tirmidhi)
The point of reference in these reports is that the
Messenger (saas) urged the trustee on the estate of people who due to age or other reasons
cannot manage their own financial affairs, to invest it in a business that will yield a
return and make it grow until they are in a position to do so themselves. For, if proper
investment is not made with an ophan's inheritance, it will be depleted by charity, thus
leaving the orphan with little or nothing.
The Lawgiver, Allah has prescribed the minimum amount that
is obligatory for Zakaat in different ranges of properties, and that minimum amount is
known as nisaab. The reason for nisaab is to ensure that no one is forced to give
Zakaat out of what he or she does not have, and that no wealth goes without Zakaat. Nisaab
is also an insurance against the tyranny of the state to tax the poor and or the neediest
as is the case in many countries. Nisaab is a reference point for the average Muslim who
is not sure whether he possesses the minimum wealth on which Zakaat is obligatory. The
wealthy need not worry about the Nisaab. Zakaat is obligatory on their entire wealth and
must be paid out at the end of financial year that they set for their Zakaat.
Nisaab will not be valid unless it
fulfills two conditions:
1) The amount that has reached Nisaab must be the excess
or surplus known as "faadil" from one's essential needs such as food,
clothing, housing, vehicles, tools and machinery that is used in business. The essentials
for living are exempted from Zakaat.
Although what constitutes nisaab may change from
one country to another, the amount that is needed for the basic needs of living in
different countries is very similar, because the market place determines the prices,
whether it is an official market or a non-official market. In the poorest countries people
do without or live below the poverty standard, and that is why many go hungry or without
However, we must realize that Zakaat is an act of worship
(ebadah) like Salaat. The element of intention (niyyah) is necessary,
and we should not overly rely on state agencies to determine for us the requirements of
our religious duty. The so called the "consumption basket" (that is poverty
level as determined the social security administration which are updated every fiscal
year) may not be the same as what Islam considers minimum Nisaab.
In the industrialized countries, the consumption basket
may include items that are not necessarily essential, such as entertainment, extra
clothing, variety of food, eating in restaurant or eating at home, owning more than one
car as opposed to having three cars in the driveway, drinking water as opposed to juices,
eating regular food or special "health" food. This is why I believe it is
essential that we do not lose site of the fact that Zakaat is ebadah of wealth,
like salaat and fasting. Non Muslims may consider all the things mentioned above as
essentials while Muslims will not. Indeed, no Muslims in good standing will attempt to
hide behind the label of consumption basket so as to evade Zakaat.
Nisaab eliminates the possibility of injustice or unfair
treatment of the Zakaat payer. To suggest that if we do not follow the rules of
International Monetary Fund or the arbitrary figures of social security administration or
department of agriculture we will be doing injustice to the Zakaat payer is ludicrous.
2) Nisaab must mature, that is the money is not liable for
Zakaat unless it has remained a full year in the possession of a person. This is the
understanding of the majority of the scholars. Imam Abu Hanifah (raa) said: "What
should be considered is the existence of nisaab at the beginning and the end of the Zakaat
year set by the payer". It does not matter if the nisaab money increases or decreases
during the calendar year, as we will explain later.
This condition does not include farm produce, for it is
due on the day it is harvested. Allah (SWT) stated: "... But render the dues that are
proper on the day that the harvest is gathered..." (Al-Qur`an, 6: 141)
According to Imam Al-`Abadi, (raa) Zakaat money is of two kinds: one that by its nature
can not be invested and Zakaat of this category is due on the day of harvest. This
includes all the farm produce that is liable for Zakaat. The other is wealth that can be
invested in the hope of a good return, like cash, gold or silver, because the opportunity
is there that cash in one's hand can be invested for a good return. This includes currency
investment, merchandise and livestock. Their Zakaat is not due until they have matured in
one full year.
The proof of this condition is the Hadith related by Ibn
`Umar that the Messenger of Allah (saas) said: "He who acquires property is not
liable for Zakaat on it till a year passes." According to Ibn Rushd (raa) this is the
understanding of the majority of scholars, including the four rightly guided Khalifahs.
Zakaat Of Salaries
The condition of yearly term maturity applies to the
commodities on which the Lawgiver said Zakaat is due, and this includes silver, gold,
modern paper currency and livestock. Paper currency is analogous to silver, therefore, it
takes the case of silver. There is no Zakaat on salary, earned income from wage earners or
professionals or independent contractors until such money matures in a full year. There is
no such thing as paying your Zakaat on the day you receive your paycheck. What the wage
earner must know is that he or she can purify that money with charity (sadaqah)
anytime they cash the paycheck. Allah (SWT) states: "And in their wealth and
possessions (was remembered) the right of the needy, he who asks and he who (for some
reason) was prevented (from asking)." (Al-Qur`an, 51: 19).
We can deduce from the concept of "yearly
maturity" of wealth on which Zakaat is due as encouraging, among other things, saving
on the part of the Zakaat payer, and enhances the chances for eradicating poverty, because
if the poor receives his rightful share of Zakaat there will be the possibility that he
can take Zakaat money and invest it and become a Zakaat payer instead of recipient. This
possibility will be lost if he receives few Zakaat dollars every month. To say that the
wage earner just brings his check home and spends everything on necessities and lives from
check to check with nothing left over means the person is eligible for Zakaat.
Using farm produce as analogous to salary for Zakaat is
wrong analogy. As Imam Al-`Abadi said, these are two different categories of money. $2,
500.00 cash can be invested by the person and expect a good return whereas it will be
difficult to invest a bushel of corn. It can be traded as a commodity, which is what it
is. This why we must know that analogy has rules that must be followed before it is
applied. Certainly the jurists are unanimous that earned income, known as almal
al-mustafadah, should either be added to existing money and wait until that amount
reaches maturity and then give their Zakaat; or if there is no money on hand the time one
possesses this money, he or she should wait one full year before assessing it for Zakaat.
Zakaat is one of the five pillars of Islam and a vital
element in the religion of Islam. It is the twin sister of Salaat. In Al-Qur`an, Allah
(SWT) stated: "So establish regular Prayer and give regular Alms; and obey the
Messenger; that you may receive mercy." (Al-Qur`an, 24: 56) Also,
"...Establish regular Prayer and give regular Alms, and loan to Allah a beautiful
loan...." (Al-Qur`an, 73: 20) "And they have been commanded no more
than this: to worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to
establish regular Prayer and to practice regular charity; and that is the religion right
and straight." (Al-Qur`an, 98: 5)
In a famous Hadith reported by `Umar Bin Khattab (raa),
the Messenger of Allah (saas) responded to Jibreel (as) and said: "... Islam is to
testify that there is no deity but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to
perform the prayer, to pay Zakaat, to observe fasting in Ramadan, and to make pilgrimage
to the house of Allah if you are able to do os...." (Bukhari, Muslim)
There is consensus among Muslim scholars that it is
mandatory on every believer who is financially able. Whoever knowingly denies this
obligation, while he possesses the minimum amount, would be considered a disbeliever and a
renegade from Islam. Whoever is stingy, or tries to cheat, is considered among the
wrongdoers. Zakaat is mandatory on four categories of items.
1. Farm produce of seeds and fruits, such
as wheat, barley, rice, dates, raisins, cocoa, pistachios, coffee, cashews. Allah (SWT)
stated: "O you who believe, give of the good things which you have (honorably)
earned, and of the fruits of the earth which We have produced for you..." (Al-Qur`an,
2: 267) Also: "... But render the dues that are proper on the day that the
harvest is gathered..." (Al-Qur`an, 6: 141) Thus, these two verses and many
others indicate that Zakaat is due on farm products that reached the minimum amount (nisaab).
No farm product is liable for Zakaat unless it is a product that is considered as food and
can be stocked or saved naturally without refrigeration. If the produce is perishable
fruit, such as grapes, there is no Zakaat. But if one sells them they will pay their
Zakaat on the profit earned when it matures.
The nisaab is 612 kilos, which equals 1,346.40
lb. There is no Zakaat on produce that is less than this amount. If the farm produce or
crops grow dependant on rainwater, or without any man's labor or irrigation, Zakaat due is
one-tenth of the total. If it is grown by irrigation, then the Zakaat due is half of
one-tenth of the total produce. There is no Zakaat on fruits like apples or oranges or
vegetables which are perishable and need refrigeration for long storage, but they should
be considered as any income if the profit earned from their sale reaches the amount of
Zakaat, then Zakaat should be given.
2. Cattle, including camels, cows, sheep
and goats, that are freely graze and are raised for trade and production. For Zakaat to be
obligatory, the number must reach the nisaab. The nisaab of camels is
five, of cows 30, of sheep and goats, 40. By freely grazing is meant the animal goes out
to feed without the owner buying or bringing it feed or hay. If it is not a grazing
animal, there is no Zakaat in the stock by itself. The stock will, however, be considered
as articles of trade, then will be assessed for Zakaat as articles of trade when the
profit earned from their sale reaches the amount by itself or in combination with other
articles of the trade.
3. Merchandise and goods of trade and commerce.
This includes anything that is obtained for the business of buying and selling: land,
animals, food provisions, fabric, cars, spare parts, etc. This inventory is evaluated
annually and assessed for Zakaat, whether the value is the same as the amount spent on it,
more, or less. The owners of grocery stores, like any other business, must evaluate every
item and give their Zakaat. Simple bookkeeping of inventory, orders, cash on hand, and
credits, that is non-delinquent loans, will give one a good picture of the zakaatable
assets. But if one is unable to account for everything in the store or shop, he should
assess it according to his ability until he is sure that his conscience is clear.
There is no Zakaat on what is within one's dwelling or
property which includes food, drinks, furniture, houses, animals, cars, clothes and shoes.
The only exception is gold and silver. There is no Zakaat on assets from rentals or lease,
whether they are apartment units, taxi cabs, etc. That is, there is no Zakaat on the
apartment units, buses or cars for rental like yellow cabs company or trucks for rental or
equipments. But there is Zakaat on the proceeds or incomes from these rental assets if
these assets reach the executable amount, either by themselves or in combination with
Many scholars are of the opinion that any business
activity that brings any return to the entrepreneur or investor should be assessed for
Zakaat. If the activity has a prescribed nisaab, such as gold, silver or paper currency,
that nisaab is applied for Zakaat. But if the business has no declared nisaab,
its nisaab is the nisaab of commerce, one reason being that most
business activities are considered as commerce and because, in actual fact, it is not
factitious business name, such as GM, Apple or GE that is taxed for Zakaat, it is the
individual investor. We do not tax cooperations such IBM, Apple, GM or Rajihy Bank but the
individual investors, share holders and owners of these corporations.
Indeed, there are enough rules in Zakaat books to cover
all types of business activity, be it cash or risk investment. If the business activity is
analogous to commerce, it should be assessed the same rate as commerce. To subject the
business to a different Zakaat rate of 10%, which is the rate of farm products instead of
its correct rate of 2.5%, the rate of commerce, is unfair and unjustified. Besides, there
is no proof, even a weak one, to justify this unfair arbitrary taxation. The difference
between 2.5% and 10% is high. The Zakaat system is not like a state revenue collection,
but Allah's `ebadah. However, if a business person decides to give more than 2.5%
after deducting all the expenses including depreciation, Allah (SWT) will accept it from
4. Gold and silver, whether used for
commerce or jewelry. Allah (SWT) states: "...And there are those who bury gold and
silver and spend it not in the way of Allah: announce unto them a most grievous penalty.
On the day when heat will be produced out of that (wealth) in the fire of hell, and with
it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks and their backs. This is the (treasure)
which you buried for yourselves: taste you, then, the (treasures) you buried." (Al-Qur`an,
9: 34-35). By hoarding is meant refusal to give it in the path of Allah, which
In a hadith reported by Abu Hurairah (raa), the Messenger
of Allah (saas) said: "For the owner or possessor of gold and silver who does not
fulfill its obligation, on the Day of Resurrection it will be cast into sheets of fire and
be branded on his forehead, side and back. Whenever it cools it is to be repeated for him
in a day whose length is the length of fifty thousand years, until the judgement is
rendered among the people." (Muslim). By its obligation is meant assessing it for
Zakaat. In another version: "No possessor of a treasure who does not give its
Zakaat is mandatory in gold and silver, irrespective of
its form: in coins, raw or nugget, or jewelry for wearing, or for rent, because of the
generality of evidence of Zakaat without any detail. In a report by Abdullah bin `Amr bin
`Aas (raa), he related that a woman came to the Messenger of Allah with her daughter. On
the daughter's wrist were two heavy gold bracelets. The Messenger asked her, "Do you
pay Zakaat on this?" She replied, "No." The Messenger said: "Would it
please you that Allah will encircle you with two bracelets of fire?" The reporter
commented that she took them off and threw them down in front of the Messenger, and said:
"They are for Allah and his Messenger." (Ahmed, Tirmidhi).
The Messenger's wife reported that: "The Messenger
entered into my house and saw in my hand a huge ring made of silver, so he asked, `What is
this?' I replied, `I made them to beautify myself for you, O Messenger of Allah.' He
inquired, `Do you give their Zakaat?' I said, `No,' or `Allah willing.' He said: `It will
suffice you in the hellfire.'" (Abu Dawuud).
Zakaat is due on gold when it reaches the amount of (nisaab),
which is 20 Dinaar. According to a hadith, the Messenger said: "No Zakaat on you is
due until it reaches 20 dinaar." (Abu Dawud) The Islamic dinaar (currency)
is one mithqal, a unit of weight which weighs four and one quarter of a gram.
Thus, the nisaab is 85 grams. This is equal to $30.00 US dollars.
Similarly, there is no Zakaat on silver until it reaches
five oqiyah, because the Messenger said: "There is no Zakaat on less then
five oqiyah." (Muslim/Bukhari) Oqiyah is equal to forty Islamic dirhams. The
nisaab is 200 dirhams. One dirham is equivalent to 595 grams. The zakaatable
amount in both the gold and silver is a quarter of a tenth only.
There is Zakaat on modern paper currency because it is
equivalent to silver. During the early days of Islam, silver and gold were the currency of
exchange minted into dirham for silver and dinaar for gold. Silver, not
gold, had a larger circulation. Thus many scholars are of opinion that silver should be
the standard for the paper currencies of today because that is more advantageous to the
Zakaat payer, as it raises the minimum nisaab whereas gold lowers it. Although both metals
are no longer circulated, they are still considered as a security against ever fluctuating
Silver should be used as a standard to assess Zakaat
annually, not paper currency, even if the currency is hard currency like the US dollar,
Yen and Deutch Mark or Pound Sterling. Because these currencies are backed by political
decisions that may not have anything to do with the economy, the value and strength of
this paper money depends largely on all haram usury system of interest rates.
Thus, the Zakaat payer should look up in the local
newspaper's financial or business section for the price of silver which is currently about
$3.82. per ounce. The nisaab, then, is 596 x .04=28.80 ounce multiplied by$3.82= 90.91.
therefore. The nisaab is about $100.00, as of December 17, 1991.
The nisaab should be based on the market value of
the currency. If the money is hard currency, there will be no problem, but if the money is
a non-marketable currency, like most currencies in the third world countries, the nisaab
should be based on the black market, which realistically reflects the value of the
currency on the money market. In any case, the silver rate should be used to assess the
If the nisaab is determined, the zakaatable
amount is 2.5%, or .025 multiplied by the amount. For instance, if the zakaatable amount
is $56,000.00 it will be 56,000. x .025 = $1,400.00.
Zakaat is due on gold, silver, and or paper currency,
whether it is cash in hand or credit in the hands of borrowers. Zakaat is due on debts or
cost of merchandize or rental money. If the borrower is a wealthy person that you know
will pay back the debt, the lender (that is Halaal lending free of usury) should include
that money in the assessment and give its Zakaat. However, one can delay Zakaat on a loan
until he receives payment, then return its Zakaat for the past years that he was unable to
assess for Zakaat. If the borrower is poor or is refusing to pay the debt, there will be
no Zakaat on the money until the lender receives the money. Then he will assess it for
Zakaat of one past due year, but there will be no Zakaat in the years before that.
There is no Zakaat on precious stones such as diamonds, or
metals such uranium, regardless of their value. Gold and silver, of course are assessed
for Zakaat. However, if a person possesses any of these stones or metals, he should give
their Zakaat like any other articles of trade. If a person possesses diamonds or any other
precious stones as an edge against inflation or for ornaments, there will no Zakaat on
How To Give Zakaat
Zakaat may be assessed and returned in two ways:
a) Make a record of all money earned, either daily or
monthly, which has reached the nisaab and remains in the treasury. The Zakaat of
that money would be due one year later on the same day the money was earned and reached
nisaab. This means every month's income must be set aside and assessed for Zakaat and so
will be the case for the rest of the months. For instance, the income of January, 1991
will be assessed for Zakaat in January, 1992, and the income of February, 1991 will be
assessed for Zakaat in February 1992, etc. This method of assessing Zakaat is very
difficult because it entails complete bookkeeping of daily or monthly earnings.
b) The best way is to set a day or a month, preferably
Ramadan, for your annual Zakaat return calendar, say Ramadan 1st, 1412. One year later on
the same day Ramadan, 1413, your Zakaat is due and payable. Whatever is in the savings is
due for Zakaat, regardless of whether all the amount in the savings reaches a year or not.
For instance: if you have $20,000.00 in the savings account on the 1st of Ramadan, 1412
and one year later by the 1st of Ramadan, 1413 there is $50, 000.00, your Zakaat will be
assessed for $50,000.00, that is: $50.000.00 x .025= $1,250.00. If, on the other hand, by
the 1st of Ramadan, 1413 the amount in the savings is $15,000.00, your Zakaat will be for
the amount in the savings, that is $15,000.00 x .025= $375.00. This method is the best
because it is easy to assess, meets one's obligation and relieve one's conscience.
The Recipient Of Zakaat
Knowing who qualifies as recipient of Zakaat is an
important aspect of Zakaat collection in Islam. Fortunately, Allah (SWT) has been merciful
to us in that He Himself spelled out the people eligible to receive Zakaat. In Surah
Tawbah He stated:
"Alms are for the poor and the needy; and those
employed to administer (the funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled
(to truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer:
(thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom." (Al-Qur`an,
9: 60) In this verse Allah enumerated the people who deserve this divine welfare, and
they are as follows:
The poor and the needy. These are
individuals, and those under their care, to live on. By the poor and needy is meant the
people whose income or salaries, or whatever material goods they have, fall short of the
cost of living in a given environment and economy. The poor and the needy should be given
what will suffice them and their families for one full year. The needy who want to get
married and have no means should be given enough for this purpose, and so, too, the
student who needs money for tuition, rent, food, and books. The working poor should be
given supplementary Zakaat. But the wealthy, or any person with enough income to live on
should not be given Zakaat, even if they asked for it. Instead, they should be warned and
admonished for asking for what does not belong to them.
In a hadith reported by Abdullah bin `Umar, the Messenger
of Allah (saas) stated: "A man keeps on asking others for something till he comes on
the day of Resurrection without any piece of flesh on his face." (Bukhari/Muslim).
This hadith indicates a humiliating appearance before Allah (SWT) that awaits a person who
Some said: this hadith implies Allah will punish a person
with the very limb, the face, that he used to impress on others to give him their money
In another hadith reported by Abu Hurairah, the Messenger
of Allah said: "Whoever asks people for their money so as to get rich, he is asking
for flames of fire. It is up to him to ask for more or less (he should beware)."
(Muslim) This hadith indicates the severity of the punishment, the more one asks the more
punishment, the less one asks the less the punishment.
In another hadith, reported by Hakeem bin Hizaam said: I
begged the Messenger of Allah and he gave me. I begged again, and he gave me. I begged
again and he gave me. He then said: "This money is green and sweet; he who receives
it from people with a cheerful heart, Allah will bless him in it; he who receives it, with
an avaricious mind would not be blessed in it. He will be like the person who eats without
being satisfied; and the upper hand is better than the lower hand" (Muslim)
This hadith gave an analogy between money and green,
ripened fruit that people love to eat. Thus, it indicates that both are greatly loved but
easily finished. For money that is easy come easy go, one must be careful about the
punishment that awaits the illegal eater. If a person asks for Zakaat and there are no
signs of wealth, and he does not know that he should not ask, or a person who is well and
able, who can work, but does not; if these people do not know that it is not permissible
for them to ask, it may be given anyway.
In a hadith reported by Ahmed, Abu Dawud, and Nasa'e, two
men came to the Messenger of Allah (saas) and asked for Zakaat. He looked at them closely
and found them strong and able, he said, "If you want I will give you. But you should
know that the wealthy or an able person who can work has no share in Zakaat" (Ahmad)
Those who administer the Zakaat department,
assigning people for collecting, bookkeeping, making lists of people eligible for Zakaat,
and a financial calendar. These people will receive Zakaat as compensation for their work,
even if they are wealthy. This does not include a person who works as an agent for one or
two wealthy people to take Zakaat for himself. They should donate their time for Zakaat
disbursement and do it with honesty and truthfulness. If they can not, they should be paid
or rewarded for their time. In a hadith related by Abu Musa Al-Ashi`ari (raa), the
Messenger of Allah said: "A trustworthy Muslim executor is the one who executes
completely what has been entrusted to him of Zakaat money in good faith." (Bukhari)
That is, he will give the Zakaat money to any of the
eligible recipients of Zakaat. He should carry on the duty voluntarily, but if he can not
distribute the money without being paid, the Zakaat payer should pay him for his work. The
payment for the service of distributing Zakaat should not come out of Zakaat money.
The new converts to Islam whose hearts we
want to harmonize into the fold of Islam, either because their faith is weak or we are
afraid of their being harmed, should be given Zakaat to strengthen their Iman or until we
no longer fear their harm.
The bonds person who has contracted with
his master to buy himself out of bondage deserve Zakaat and should be given enough to pay
off their debt to the master and be freed themselves; similarly, Muslim prisoners of war
if their freedom is tied to monetary payment, deserve Zakaat sufficient enough to secure
On the other hand, if a pearson accidently killed someone
and have no means to pay off the blood money, he should be helped from Zakaat funds.
The people in debt are of two kinds:
(A) The guarantor, who takes the responsibility of someone
else's debt so as to reconcile the two warring parties, to extinguish the fire of fitnah
between them. If the person requests Zakaat money to pay off this debt he should be given
it, which will encourage him to continue in this noble cause.
In a hadith reported by Qubaysah Al-Hilaaly (raa), he said
I was under debt (hamaalah) and I came to the Messenger (saas) and begged him to
help me pay it off. The Messenger told him: "Wait until we receive charity, so we
will command that it be given to you." However, the Messenger stated: "O
Qubaysah, begging is not permitted except for one of three categories of people:
A man who has incurred debt (as guarantor to reconcile
blood wit) for him begging is permissible till he pays that off, after which he must stop
it; a man whose property has been destroyed by calamity which has smitten him; for him
begging is permissible till he gets what will support life or will provide him reasonable
subsistence; and a man who has been smitten by poverty, the genuineness of which should be
confirmed by three knowledgeable members of his people; for him begging is permissible
till he gets what will support him, or will provide him subsistence. Besides these three,
Qubaysah, begging is forbidden for every other persons, and one who engages in such
consumes that which is forbidden." (Muslim)
(B) Whoever incurs debt and has no money to pay it back
will be given from Zakaat to help pay his debt, whether the amount is large or small; or
his creditor should be paid directly on his behalf, so long as it is paid off.
Zakaat can be given in the path of Allah.
By this is meant to finance a Jihad effort in the path of Allah, not for Jihad
for other reasons. The fighter (mujahid) will be given as salary what will be
enough for him. If he needs to buy arms or some other supplies related to the war effort,
Zakaat money should be used provided the effort is to raise the banner of Islam.
The wayfarer. This is the traveller who
in a strange land runs out of money. He or she deserves Zakaat, enough money to take him
back to his country, even if he is wealthy and can find someone to loan him the money. On
his part, he should take with him on his trip sufficient money, if he is wealthy, so that
he will not need Zakaat. Zakaat money can not be used to pay off other obligations, such
as giving Zakaat money to people you are obligated to take care of by law; or Zakaat money
can not be used to pay for hotel and food expenses.
It is, however, permissible to give Zakaat to a wife or
family member, provided it is not part of their daily living expense money, but is needed
to pay off a debt for one's wife if she can not pay it. So is the case for one's parents
if they can not pay their debt.
Zakaat money may be given to members of the family for
their expenses if one is not obligated to take care of them financially. The wife can pay
off a debt of her husband with Zakaat money, because he may be among the eight eligible
recipients and she is not obligated to spend on him as he is on her.
The eight eligible recipients of Zakaat can be denied
their right to Zakaat without proof from Al-Qur`an or Sunnah. In a hadith reported by Ibn
Mas`ud, his wife Zaynab heard the Messenger of Allah order women to give Zakaat, so she
asked the Messenger (saas): " O Messenger of Allah, you commanded us to give Zakaat,
and I have jewelry that I wanted to assess for Zakaat, but my husband Abdullah bin Mas`ud
claimed that his son deserves it more than anyone." The Messenger replied: Your
husband Ibn Mas`ud is right. Your son deserves your charity more than anyone." In
another hadith reported by Salman bin `Aamir, he said the Messenger of Allah said: "
Charity to the poor is only charity, but charity to the rest of kind is charity and
maintenance of relations (sillah)." (Nisaee)
No loan should be written off as Zakaat because Zakaat is
taken and given. Allah (SWT) said: "Of their goods take alms...." (Al-Qur`an,
9: 103) And in a Hadith the Messenger has been reported as saying: "Allah has
mandated on you Zakaat to be taken from the wealthy and to be given to the
poor." Thus, writing off debt is not taken. For instance, If you loan a person money,
you can not write off that loan as a Zakaat. However, it could be written off as sadaqah
charity. Furthermore, loan, delinquent or not, is considered an absent money, therefore,
it should not be transacted in Zakaat. for Zakaat is assessed only in cash in hand.
Besides, debt money is valued less than cash in the hand, and using that money for alms is
like exchanging good money for bad.
The assessor of alms should try to give his Zakaat to an
eligible person, but if he makes a mistake and gives it to an ineligible person it is
accepted. In a hadith related by Abu Hurairah, he said the Messenger said:
"A man expressed his intention to give charity, so he
came with his charity and placed it in the hand of an adulteress. In the morning the
people were talking and saying charity was given to an adulteress last night. The donor
said: O Allah, to thee be the Praise - charity to an adulteress! He then again expressed
his intention to give charity, so he went out with it and placed it in the hand of a rich
person. In the morning the people were talking and saying charity was given to a rich
person. The donor said, O Allah to You be the praise - charity to a rich man! He then
expressed his intention to give charity, so he went out with his charity and placed it in
the hand of a thief. In the morning the people were talking and saying charity to the
thief. So the man said, O Allah to You be the praise (what a misfortune that charity has
been given) to the adulteress, the rich and the thief! Then someone came to him and told
him your charity has been accepted. As for the adulteress the charity might become the
means whereby she might restrain from fornication. The rich man might perhaps learn a
lesson and spend from what Allah has given him, and the thief might thereby restrain from
committing theft. (Muslim/ Bukhari)