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Who is Liable to Pay Zakat?

Payment of zakat is an obligation [fardh] upon every adult, mentally sound and

free Muslim individual who owns property to the tune of the prescribed quantum [nisaab] and who has possessed the property for at least one complete year. The assets liable for levy of zakat must fulfil the following requirements:

  1. The person must have the full ownership of the assets
  2. The assets should bear names
  3. The assets must be equal to the prescribed quantum [nisaab]
  4. It must be in excess of one’s and one’s household’s essential needs
  5. One full year must have elapsed over its possession
  6. The owner should not be under debt

If a minor child owns silver or gold or other assets to the tune of the prescribed quantum, it is incumbent on him/her to pay zakat on it.

The Prescribed Quantum for Zakat

The prescribed quantum or nisaab of assets in gold is twenty Dinars or seven-and-half tolas which is approximately equal to 58 [fifty-eight] grams. The nisaab of silver is two hundred dirhams which is equal to 52.5 tolas.  For both precious metals the rate of zakat is 1/40 [one-fortieth] of the quantity owned or 2.5 per cent of the value of the quantity owned.

For those who do not pay zakat on their assets Allah has warned of painful punishment. Thus He proclaims:

وَالَّذِينَ يَكْنِزُونَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلا يُنفِقُونَهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَبَشِّرْهُمْ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ (34) يَوْمَ يُحْمَى عَلَيْهَا فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ فَتُكْوَى بِهَا جِبَاهُهُمْ وَجُنُوبُهُمْ وَظُهُورُهُمْ هَذَا مَا كَنَزْتُمْ لأَنفُسِكُمْ فَذُوقُوا مَا كُنتُمْ تَكْنِزُونَ (التوبة : 34 -35)

(Translation of meaning) [“O ye who believe! Lo! Many of the [Jewish] rabbis and the [Christian] monks devour the wealth of mankind wantonly and debar [men] from the way of Allah. They who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah, unto them give tidings [O Muhammad] of a painful doom (35) On the day when it will [all] be heated in the fire of hell, their foreheads and their flanks and their backs will be branded therewith [and it will be said unto them]: Here is that which ye hoarded for yourselves. Now taste of what ye used to hoard” (At-Taubah: 34-35)].

Zakat on Jewellery

Jewellery in personal use of women is exempt from zakat. But payment of zakat on such jewellery is obligatory which are kept for trade or for getting a premium in value. Similarly, if men folk use jewellery of gold and silver, though it is forbidden for them, they will be liable to pay zakat on them.

Zakat on Cash and Currency

Cash held in the form of coins and currency notes shall be reckoned with the quantum of gold and silver and the same rate shall apply to them. If the value of total cash held is equal or more than the prescribed quantum of gold and silver then zakat has to be paid at the rate of two and half per cent.

Zakat on Merchandise

Once the Commander of the Faithful Hadrat Umar Farooq (RadhiAllahu Anhu) was passing through a bazaar. A merchant was selling skins and utensils. Hadrat Umar (RadhiAllahu Anhu) went to him and asked him to pay zakat. He said O Commander of the Faithful, is there any zakat on these pieces of skin. He replied that calculate their price then determine the zakat on them (Ahmad, Dar Qutni, Baihaqi). A merchant should calculate the value of his merchandise at the end of the year. If it is equal to the nisaab of gold and silver then he must pay at the rate of two-and-half per cent, provided that the following conditions are fulfilled:

  1. Total value of merchandise should be equal to the nisaab
  2. The merchandise should have been owned for one complete year
  3. The merchandise should be meant solely for trade and commerce, not for personal or family or non-commercial use
  4. The individual should be the sole proprietor of his full merchandise.


    Zakat on Produce of Farms and Orchards

Allah (Ta’ala) has proclaimed:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَنفِقُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا كَسَبْتُمْ وَمِمَّا أَخْرَجْنَا لَكُمْ مِنْ الأَرْضِ (البقرة : 267)

(Translation of meaning) [“O ye who believe! Spend of the good things which ye have earned, and of that which we bring forth from the earth for you” (A-Baqarah: 267)].

In another place He has ordered:

وَآتُوا حَقَّهُ يَوْمَ حَصَادِهِ (الأنعام: 141)

(Translation of meaning) [“. . . Eat ye of the fruit thereof when it fruiteth, and pay the due thereof upon the harvest day” (Al-An’am: 141).

In the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah (May Allah have mercy on him) , every produce of soil is liable to levy of zakat provided it is meant to make the soil good for cultivation. From this view the wood used as fuel, bamboo, grass and other vegetations and non-fruit-bearing trees are exempt from payment of zakat. In the opinion of Imam Shafei and Imam Malik (May Allah have mercy on them), zakat is obligatory on commodities that can be weighed and stored for food. According to Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (May Allah have mercy on him), all produce is subject to levy of zakat whether it is meant for use as food or not. When the Abbasid Caliph al-Hadi imposed zakat on the vegetables Imam Abu Hanifah (May Allah have mercy on him) objected by saying they are consumed by poor people and are within their reach.

Nisaab for Food Grains and Fruits

The prescribed quantum for food grains and fruits is five wasaq or four maunds. The Messenger of Allah ((sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)) pronounced that there is no zakat on less than five wasaq (Majority of compilers).

The Rate of Zakat

The rate of zakat on agricultural produce is fixed according to the category of the land. The rate for produce of lands which are irrigated by natural resources is 1/10 (one-tenth or ushr). But the rate on produce of lands irrigated by artificial means is 1/20 (one-twentieth). The Messenger of Allah ((sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)) prescribed that zakat on produce irrigated by natural rains and running springs is ushr (one-tenth) and on produce which is irrigated by artificial means is half of ushr (Al-Bukhari  & Muslim).

Zakat on food grains and fruits will be assessed when the produce matures and is harvested, according to the command of Allah (Ta’ala):

وَآتُوا حَقَّهُ يَوْمَ حَصَادِهِ (الأنعام : 141)

(Translation of meaning) [“And pay the due thereof on the day of harvest” (al-Ana’m: 141).

The payer of zakat is bound to give the best of his produce in zakat. He ought not to retain the good portion for himself and give the bad one to the poor. Allah (Ta’ala) proclaims:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَنفِقُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا كَسَبْتُمْ وَمِمَّا أَخْرَجْنَا لَكُمْ مِنْ الأَرْضِ وَلا تَيَمَّمُوا الْخَبِيثَ مِنْهُ تُنفِقُونَ وَلَسْتُمْ بِآخِذِيهِ إِلاَّ أَنْ تُغْمِضُوا فِيهِ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ حَمِيدٌ (267)

(Translation of meaning) [“O ye who believe! Spend of the good things which ye have earned, and of that which we bring forth from the earth for you, and seek not the bad [with intent] to spend thereof [in charity] when ye would not take it for yourselves save with disdain; and know that Allah is Absolute, Owner of Praise” (Al-Baqarah: 267)].

To calculate the quantum of zakat on one’s agricultural output (produce) one has to deduct the cost of inputs (seeds, fertilisers, irrigation charges, loans taken against it, and the land tax paid) from the total value of the produce then pay  one-tenth or one-twentieth, as the case may be, of the balance as zakat. For instance, if a farmer produces ten quintals of cotton and if the cost his inputs (except irrigation) is equal to the value of three quintal cotton then he will have to pay zakat on the balance seven quintals, one-tenth if the crop was irrigated naturally or one-twentieth if irrigated by artificial means.

Zakat on the produce of a rented land is payable by the tenant, not the owner of the land. This is the opinion of the majority of jurists.

Zakat on Honey

According to some jurists, honey is not subject to the levy of zakat. But some others say that it is like food grains and fruits. It is also measured, stored and bought and sold. Thus it is liable to a levy of one-tenth as zakat. However, Imam Shaukani (May Allah have mercy on him) has observed that all narrations of the Prophetic sayings in this respect are weak. Therefore, no rule can be derived from them.