By: Shaheed Ayatullah Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi
Zakat is of two types, Obligatory and recommended. Obligatory Zakat is again of two types. The Zakat of wealth and the Zakat of body (Fitra). The Zakat of wealth is for nine items: Four food grains (Wheat, barley, dates and dried grapes); Three quadrupeds, (Sheep or goats, cows and camels) and two types of coins, (gold and silver).
Zakat of food grains becomes obligatory when wheat, barley, dates or resins reach a particular quantity (Nisāb). The Nisāb (taxable limit) is fixed at 40 mithqal less than 280 Tabrizi mounds approximately equal to 847 Kilograms. If the cultivation of wheat, barley, dates or resins was carried out by rain water, stream/river or from the moisture of the earth (like the lands of Egypt etc.) the Zakat payable is one-tenth of the total yield. But if it was cultivated with well-water etc. the Zakat is 1/20 (twentieth part / 5.
Nisāb of Three types of Quadrupeds
1. Five types of Nisābs apply to Sheep/goats
First Nisāb is forty. From every forty animals one is to be given away as Zakat. No Zakat is payable if Sheep/goats are less than forty in number.
Second Nisāb is one hundred and twenty-one. If one has 121 Sheep or goats he has to give two of them in Zakat.
Third Nisāb is 201 animals. Zakat payable on them is Three sheep/goats.
Fourth Nisāb is 301 sheep/goats. Zakat payable is four animals.
Fifth Nisāb is four hundred sheep/goat or more than this. In this case one part of hundred is payable. In other words from every hundred sheep/goat one is to be given as Zakat.
2. Two Nisābs of Cows
The first Nisāb is thirty. The Zakat for this is a calf which has entered the 2nd year of its life. There is no Zakat if one has less than thirty cows.
The second Nisāb is forty and its Zakat is a female calf which has entered the 3rd year of its life. For example, if a person has 39 Cows, he should pay Zakat on 30 Cows only. Furthermore, if he possesses more than 40 Cows but their number does not reach 60, he should pay Zakat on 40 cows only. And when their number reaches 60 which is twice as much as the first Nisāb (taxable limit), he should give as Zakat 2 calves, which have entered the 2nd year of their life. And similarly, as the number of the cows increases, he should calculate either in thirties or in forties, or from 30 and 40 and not at the rate of multiple of thirty cows as that would have a remainder of 10 cows.
3. Minimum Taxable Limit of Camels
Camels have 12 taxable limits:
(i) 5 camels, the Zakat is one sheep. As long as the number of camels does not reach five, no Zakat is payable on them.
(ii) 10 camels, the Zakat is 2 sheep.
(iii) 15 camels, the Zakat is 3 sheep.
(iv) 20 camels, the Zakat is 4 sheep.
(v) 25 camels, the Zakat is 5 sheep.
(vi) 26 camels, the Zakat is a camel which has entered the 2nd year of its life.
(vii) 36 camels, the Zakat is a camel which has entered the 3rd year of its life.
(viii) 46 camels, the Zakat is a camel which has entered the 4th year of its life.
(ix) 61 camels, the Zakat is a camel which has entered the 5th year of its life.
(x) 76 camels, the Zakat is 2 camels which has entered the 3rd year of their life.
(xi) 91 camels, the Zakat is 2 camels which has entered the 4th year of their life.
(xii) 121 camels and above. In this case, the person concerned should either calculate the camels in groups of 40 each, and give for each set of forty camels, a camel, which has entered the third year of its life; or calculate them in groups of 50 each and give as Zakat, for every 50 camels, a camel which has entered the 4th year of its life, or he may calculate them in the groups of forty and fifty. However, in every case he should calculate in such a way that there should be no balance and even if there is a balance, it should not exceed nine. For example, if he has 140 camels he should give for 100 camels, two such camels as have entered the fourth year of their life and for the remaining forty camels, he should pay one camel which has entered the third year of its life. And the camel to be give in Zakat should be female.
Nisāb (Minimum Taxable Limit) for Gold
There are two taxable limits of gold: The first limit is 20 mithqals (Sharī’), one mithqal being equal to 3.456 gms. Hence when the quantity of gold reaches 20 mithqals and other requisite conditions are also fulfilled, one should pay1/40th part of it, which is equal to 1.728 gms, as Zakat. And if the quantity of gold does not reach this limit, it is not obligatory to pay Zakat on it. The second taxable limit of gold is applicable when gold, in addition to 20 mithqal sharī’ is further increased. If an additional of 4 mithqal sharī’ takes place to 20 sharī’ mithqals, one should pay Zakat on the total quantity at the rate of 2.5%. and if the addition is less than 4 Sharī’ mithqals, Zakat will be payable on 20 sharī’ mithqals only; and it will not be obligatory to pay it on the additional quantity. The same rule applies as and when ongoing additions take place in the quantity of gold, like, if a further increase of 4 mithqals takes place, Zakat should be paid on the entire quantity, and if the increase is less than that, no Zakat will be payable.
Taxable Limit of Silver
There are two minimum taxable limits for silver: The first is 105 ordinary mithqals, equal to 483.88 gms. Therefore, when the quantity of silver reaches that limit and other necessary condition are also fulfilled one should pay 2.5% of it as Zakat. And if the quantity of silver does not reach the aforesaid limit, it is not obligatory to pay Zakat on it.
The Second limit of silver is when there is an addition of 21 mithqals, that is, if an addition of 21 mithqals takes place to 105 mithqals, the Zakat should be paid on 126 mithqals. If the addition is less than 21 mithqals he should pay Zakat on 105 mithqals only, and no Zakat is payable on the additional quantity. The same rule applies as and when ongoing additions take place in the quantity of silver, like if 21 mithqals are further added, he should pay Zakat on the entire quantity and if the addition is less than that the quantity which has been added and is less than 21 mithqals, is not liable to any Zakat. Thus, if a person gives 1/40 of all the gold or silver he possesses, he will have paid the obligatory Zakat and sometimes even more than that. For example, if a person has 110 mithqals of silver and gives 2.5% of that, he will have paid Zakat on 105 mithqals which was obligatory, and also something on 5 mithqals which was not obligatory.
These are the basic rules with regard to Zakat. Those who wish to study this in more detail may refer to the books of Jurisprudence.
Zakat of Fitra
At the time of sunset on Eid ul Fitr night (i.e. the night preceding Eid day), whoever is adult and sane and is neither unconscious, nor poor, nor the slave of another, he should give, on his own behalf as well as on behalf of all those who are his dependents, about Three kilos per head of wheat or barley or dates or raisins or rice or millet etc. It is also sufficient if he pays the price of one of these items in cash. As per obligatory precaution, he should not give from that food which is not staple in his place, even if it be wheat, barley, dates or raisins.
We must remember that the immediate benefit of Zakat of Fitra is that one shall be safe from accidental or destined death the following year. It is related from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he told his financial secretary to pay the Zakatul Fitra of all his family members and not to overlook any of them. “Because if his Zakat is not paid I would be in constant fear of his demise.”
“What do you mean by ‘demise’?” asked the secretary.
“Death”, replied Imam (a.s.), “And its reward is the acceptance of a month of fasting.”
Imam (a.s.) also said,
“Zakatul Fitra completes (perfects) the fasts of the month of Ramadhan.”
Zakat can be spent in eight ways as mentioned in the Holy Qur’an.
Disposal of Zakat
Holy Qur’an says: “Alms are only for the poor and the needy and the officials (appointed) over them, and those whose hearts are made to incline (to truth) and the (ransoming of) captives and those in debts and in the way of Allah and the wayfarer.” (Surah at-Tawba 9: 60)
Zakat can be spent for the following eight purposes:
(1) It may be given to a poor person, who does not posses actual or potential means to meet his own expenses, as well as that of his family for a period of one year. However, a person who has an art or possesses property or capital to meet his expenses, is not classified as poor.
(2) It may be paid to a miskin (a destitute person) who leads a harder life than a Faqir (a poor person).
(3) It can be given to a person who is a Wakil of Holy Imam (a.s.) or his representative to collect Zakat, to keep it in safe custody, to maintain its accounts and to deliver it to the Imam or his representative or to the poor.
(4) It can be given to those non-Muslims who may, as a result, be inclined to Islam, or may assist the Muslims for fighting against the enemies, or for other justified purposes. It can be given to those Muslims also whose faith in the Prophet or in the Wilāyat of Amir ul-Mu’minīn in unstable and weak, provided that, as a result of giving, their faith is reinforced.
(5) It can be spent to purchase the slaves to set them free, the details of which have been given in its relevant Chapter.
(6) It can be given to an indebted person who is unable to repay his debt.
(7) It may be spent in the way of Allah (S.w.T.) for things which have common benefit to the Muslims; for example, to construct a mosque, or a school for religious education or to keep the city clean, or to widen or build tar roads.
(8) It may be given to a stranded traveller.
(9) These are the situations in which Zakat can be spent. But in situation number 3 and 4, the owner cannot spend without the permission of Imam (a.s.) or his representative; and the same applies to the 7th situation, as per obligatory precaution.
Recommended (Mustahab) Zakat
Zakat is recommended in seven things:
1. Wealth: That is the money collected by a person to use in business transactions.
2. Rice, grams, lentil, Vetch etc. But there is no Zakat on vegetables like brinjals, cucumber, water melon or musk melon.
4. Jewellery and embellishment should be given to believers for temporary use.
5. Hidden or buried treasure which cannot be spent. One year’s Zakat is to be paid on it, if the individual is capable of it.
6. When in order to avoid paying Zakat a person disposes off his taxable limit. In such cases it is recommended for him to pay Zakat on the balance at the beginning of next year.
7. Income from lease hold property like house, shop, orchard or public bath etc.
Other Wajib Taxes
Another important religious duty is Khums. It has been prescribed as the share of the Messenger of Allah (S) and his progeny (a.s.) as they cannot accept Zakat. Anyone who withholds a single Dirham of Khums will be included among those who had usurped the rights of Āle Muhammad (a.s.) and those who had oppressed them. Anyone who denies the obligatory nature of this duty is an unbeliever as Khums is one of the principal articles of faith. The relevant Qur’anic ayat and the traditions of Ma’sūmīn (a.s.) are given below:
“And know that whatever you gain, a fifth of it is for Allah and for the apostle and for the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, if you believe in Allah and in that which We revealed to Our servant, or the day of distinction, the day on which the two parties met; and Allah has power over all things.” (Surah al-Anfāl 8: 41)
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, “Since Allah has made Sadaqah Harām on us (Ahl ul-Bayt) and prescribed Khums for us, Khums is Wajib and Hadiya (gift) is permissible for us.” (Man la Yahzarul Faqih Vol. 2 page 41)
Imam Baqir (a.s.) says, “It is not permitted for anyone to purchase anything from the money on which Khums has not been paid and until our right has not reached us.” (Usūl al-Kāfi Vol. 1 page 545)
Imam (a.s.) also said, “The most difficult situation on the day of Qiyāma will be when those eligible for Khums will arise and claim their rights from those who had not paid Khums.” (al-Kāfi Vol. 1 page 546)
Widening of Sustenance, Purification of wealth, Savings for the future
A friend, businessmen of Imam Riďa (a.s.) wrote to him from far seeking permission to spend from the amount on which Khums had not been paid. Imam (a.s.) replied: “Indeed, the Almighty Allah is widely merciful and kind. And the Almighty Allah has promised rewards and good recompense for those who will obey His commands. And there is penalty for those who act in contravention of these laws. Certainly only that wealth is permitted for a person that is allowed by Allah (S.w.T.). Doubtlessly, Khums is our need and a command of our religion, a channel of sustenance of our friends and it is to be spent to protect our honours. Meaning those from whose side we are at the risk of being harmed.
So, do not avoid paying Khums to us. And as far as possible do not deprive yourself from our supplications. Indeed, Khums is a saving that will benefit you on the day of affliction and helplessness (Qiyāma). A Muslim is one who fulfils all that he had vowed with regard to servitude and obedience of the Almighty. One who accepts by his tongue but denies in the heart is not a Muslim. (Wafi – Kāfi – Tahzīb)
Hazrat Hujjat ibnul Hasan (a.t.f.s.) sent a letter to Abul Hasan Asadi through his special representative Muhammad bin Uthman. Therein he says, “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Curse of Allah and the angels and all the people be upon the one who considers permissible for himself a single Dirham from our money (wealth).”
Abul Hasan Asadi said, “I thought that those who are cursed here are those who considered any type of Imam’s property Halāl for himself. Thus by the One who sent Muhammad as a great giver of good news. I saw that the writing of the letter had disappeared and in its place the following appeared: Curse of Allah and the Angels and all the people be upon the one who takes even a Dirham without our permission from our property (rights of Sadāt).”