Discharging the Obligation of Zakaat

Narrated by Ibn `Abbas Radhiallahu anhu:

Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wassallam sent Mu`adh Radhiallahu anhu to Yemen and said, “Invite the people to testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and I am Allah’s Messenger, and if they obey you to do so, then teach them that Allah has enjoined on them five prayers in every day and night (in twenty-four hours), and if they obey you to do so, then teach them that Allah has made it obligatory for them to pay the Zakat from their property and it is to be taken from the wealthy among them and given to the poor.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

In this article the following topics of Zakaat will be discussed:


Zakaat is that amount which is made obligatory by Allaah, to be paid to a particular person, or persons, possessing certain special characteristics, as explained later. It is not payable to any other individual, or for the welfare of any institution which is not a person.

The rate of Zakaat is 2.5% – which is the same as 1/40 – or two and a half cents for every rand.


Zakaat is obligatory on a free Muslim, who is firstly, responsible enough to fulfil religious obligations. He must also possesses wealth, equivalent to a certain minimum which is called Nisaab. This wealth, whether in the form of money, gold, silver, utensils of gold or silver, or articles of merchandise (for sale), of whatever description, is liable for Zakaat, if the value amounts to the Nisaab.


1) The minimum one needs in order to be the owner of Nisaab is:-

a) 87.48 grams of gold or,

b) 612.36 grams of silver, or it’s equivalent in :-

c) cash

d) merchandise (for sale) or

e) livestock or,

f) other income such as rent.

2) The minimum must be free from debt and from the basic necessities of life, such as shelter, clothing, household furniture, cattle for personal use, armour and weapons for personal use, books ( of scholars), and tools of a craftsman.

3) The minimum must be in the possession of the owner for at least one uninterrupted year. If at any time during the year the individual possesses less than this, the year’s possession is interrupted, and consequently the obligation of Zakaat falls away. As for the produce of the original minimum obtained within the year, it will be added to the same type of wealth, and Zakaat will be levied on it, on completion of one uninterrupted year for the original minimum. The rule remains the same whether the produce is obtained by trade, inheritance, or by any other means.


Zakaat is calculated on the following amounts :-

1) GOLD :- 87.48 grams (which is the same as 20 mithqals, 7,5 Tolas, 2,8125 Troy ounces. or 1350 grains).

2) SILVER:- 612.36 grams (which is the same as 200 dirhams, 52.5 Tolas, 19,6875 Troy ounces or 9450 grains )

3) The Zakaat due upon two hundred dirhams is five dirhams, and on twenty mithqals of gold, one half mithqal. The rate on these forms of wealth is therefore one fortieth of one’s total wealth.


1) Intention. The person paying Zakaat should intend in his mind that he is paying Zakaat. The intention needs to be made when paying to the beneficiary, or when the payer sets apart the proportion of Zakaat from his total wealth, for payment at a later convenient time. For example, when the payer gives Zakaat without any intention, but later makes the intention (while the Zakaat paid is still in the possession of the beneficiary), then it is valid.

2) The receiver. It is NOT necessary that the receiver should know that the payment made to him is of Zakaat. Thus, it is wholly correct if one pays the receiver of Zakaat a sum, saying that it is a gift or a loan, after having intended by it the payment of Zakaat.

3) Without intention. If a person gives away his whole wealth in charity, without the intention of Zakaat, the obligation of Zakaat for him is waived.

4)If a person exempts a poor man, or any other beneficiary of Zakaat, from the repayment of the debt, intending that the debt is the payment of Zakaat obligatory upon himself, this is not considered as payment of Zakaat, because delivery is not apparent in this case.

5) It is correct to pay the Zakaat on gold and silver (naqdayn) by giving – to the beneficiaries – moveable properties, measurable things and weighable goods, equivalent to the value of gold or silver. Should the payment be made in kind, i.e. by giving part of the gold or silver itself, then the weight should be taken into account and NOT the price. In the case of money, the owner can, instead of the actual money due, pay the value in kind.


Zakaat on loans may be divided into three kinds: Strong, moderate and weak.

1) THE STRONG LOAN is when the debtor acknowledges the receiving or borrowing of money and articles of merchandise although he now possesses nothing. If the borrower disputes the claim of the lender but there is sufficient proof against him, then this still remains a strong loan. In these cases, Zakaat is obligatory upon the lender for all the years passed. The actual payment will, however, be made when he recovers from the debtor, a minimum of twenty percent for liability of Zakaat.

2) THE MODERATE LOAN is the receiving of that which is not for sale, i.e., the value of clothing for personal use and living quarters. If these things are sold, and their price is not paid by the buyer, then until the lender recovers from the buyer the minimum liable to ZAKAAT – i.e. two hundred dirhams – then only will Zakaat become binding. The measure of one uninterrupted year is to be considered from the time when the loan was given to the buyer.

3) THE WEAK LOAN is the changing of that which is not wealth – e.g. dowry, bequest, exchange of the Khul’a for divorce, compensation for deliberate murder, indemnity, and cost of labour (to purchase one’s freedom). For this type of loan, Zakaat is not necessary until the lender receives the minimum liable for Zakaat and until one uninterrupted year passes after receiving it. This is the view of Imaam Abu Hanifah.

Imaam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad maintain that in all three cases of loan mentioned above, it is necessary to pay Zakaat on whatever amount,- small or great – that is recovered.


On obtaining uncertain wealth, it is not necessary to pay Zakaat for the years during which it remained uncertain. Examples of such wealth are :-

1) Usurped property regarding which there is no proof.

2) Wealth sunk in the sea.

3) Wealth tyrannically confiscated by the government.

4) A loan given to someone who denies this, and against whom there is no proof.On regaining this form of wealth, the owner is exempted from Zakaat on it for the years during which it was uncertain.


1) Moveable articles, of whatever description, are subject to Zakaat if they are kept with a view to resale and if the value of such movables amount to the minimum (nisaab) as described earlier. The rate of Zakaat in the case of such movables is five dirhams (silver coins) for every two hundred dirhams worth of goods.

2) In the case of movables, Zakaat is payable when one possesses the minimum (nisaab) – at BOTH ends of the year, even though it is less than this at any time within that period. Thus, if a person owns moveable property for sale which is NOT equivalent to the minimum liable for Zakaat, and he has no other form of wealth which could be added to it to reach the minimum liable for Zakaat, but at the end of the year, the value of his moveable property raised to reach the minimum required for Zakaat, then he is NOT liable to Zakaat for this year, because the minimum did not exist at BOTH ends of the year.

3) If the movables are estimated at a value of one hundred dirhams, and one also possesses one hundred dirhams in cash, gold or silver – then the value of the movables must be added to the one hundred dirhams so that the two, together, will now reach the minimum for Zakaat, and Zakaat will become due.


In the same manner described above, if gold is added to silver and their combined value (not their quantity ), reaches the minimum for Zakaat, then Zakaat will have to be paid. For example, if a man possesses one hundred dirhams in silver, and five Mithqals of gold (the value of which would amount to two hundred dirhams), he would be liable to Zakaat. Similarly, if the value of gold and silver and rands and dollars, after being combined, amounts to, or is more than the minimum amount for Zakaat, than Zakaat becomes due.

If gold or silver contain some alloy – metal not liable to Zakaat – but MOSTLY gold and silver, they are to be accounted as pure gold or silver and the laws of gold and silver will apply to them.


1) No Zakaat is levied on jewels such as diamonds and pearls except if one possesses them for sale. The same is true for all movables.

2) There is no Zakaat on interest earned from savings accounts. This entire amount must be given away to the poor and needy (preferably Muslims).


If a person possesses measurable things or weighable goods equivalent to the minimum liable to Zakaat (nisaab), for one year, but has not paid the Zakaat on these, and their value increased or decreased, then two possibilities arise :-

1) He pays the Zakaat in kind, which is calculated as one fortieth of his wealth.

2) He pays Zakaat based upon value, which is calculated as the value on the day of the obligation to pay the Zakaat, i.e., the last day of the year during which one possessed the amount on which Zakaat was due. For example, if a person came into possession of the nisaab amount of wealth on a certain day during the year, he should calculate the end of the year starting from this date.

This is the view of Imam Abu Hanifa.

Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad hold the opinion that account should be taken of the value on the date of the actual payment of the Zakaat to the beneficiaries.


1) No Zakaat is necessary for a man who did not pay Zakaat when its payment was due, and subsequently lost his wealth on condition that he does not destroy the wealth himself. If, after being possessed by an individual for an uninterrupted year, all one’s wealth is destroyed of itself, the Zakaat for that year falls away.

2) If part of this wealth is destroyed, the Zakaat drops proportionally. The Zakaat for the destroyed part of the wealth is forgiven by Allah.

3) Should the destroyed part be less than the minimum liable to Zakaat, then the payment of Zakaat remains unaltered.


Zakaat can legally be paid to the under mentioned categories of Muslims which are specified in a single verse of the Qur’aan. There is no other beneficiary for Zakaat.

1. THE POOR. A poor person is one who possesses wealth, the whole of which amounts to LESS than the minimum liable to Zakaat (nisaab) or its value, from whatever type of wealth it may be. Such a person is legally considered poor even though he is in sound health and is capable of earning wealth.

2. THE DESTITUTE is one who has no wealth whatsoever.

3. THE SLAVE is one who has made a contract with his master that he will ransom himself with a certain amount of wealth.

4. A DEBTOR is one whose wealth, after his debt is deducted from it, is less than the minimum liable for Zakaat.

5. Those who are striving in the cause of Allah. They are:

a. The WARRIORS who, through poverty, are incapacitated and prevented from taking part in Holy war, and,

b. The PILGRIMS to Makkah, who, because of poverty, are incapable of returning home.

6. THE WAYFARERS are those who have wealth at home but not with them on the journey. They may be paid as much of Zakaat as is needed to support them in their travel.

7. Those employed in connection with the collection and distribution of Zakaat even if they are rich. They can be paid from Zakaat in proportion to their labour. This is only valid in an Islamic State, where the Khalifah will stipulate the wage.

Zakaat can be paid to the following if they do not possess the Nisaab amount.

One’s brother, sister, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt -both paternal and maternal – and one’s parents – in – law.

The payer of Zakaat is allowed to give his Zakaat to all the categories of beneficiaries above. He is also allowed to limit his payment to any one of them, despite the existence of others in his locality.


[1] An infidel

[2] A rich man, i.e. one who possesses the minimum wealth liable to Zakaat, or its value, from whatever kind of wealth it may be – which is in excess of his basic needs.

[3] A rich infant.

[4] A person from the family of Hashim and their freed slaves.

[5] Those from whom the payer of Zakaat is descended, i.e. his parents, grand-parents, and so on .

[6] Those who have descended from him, i.e. his sons and daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters, and so on.

[7] One’s wife or husband.

[8] For the purchase of a shroud for the dead, and

[9] For the payment of the payer’s own debt.


It is disliked to pay so much Zakaat to a single poor man as would make him rich – such that he possesses the minimum liable to Zakaat (nisaab) – after this repays his debt and after he gives each member of his family less than the minimum liable to Zakaat. Should the payment of Zakaat not elevate him, financially, to such an extent, then it is not disliked. It is praiseworthy to pay as much Zakaat to a single poor man as would prevent him from the need for begging.


It is disliked to transfer wealth of Zakaat to a city other than one’s own. This is, however, permissible if it is made for those who are :-

1) Relatives of the payer,

2) More needy than the inhabitants of his own city.

3) More pious, OR,

4) More beneficent to Muslims by imparting useful knowledge.


[1] First to such a deserving one who is nearest to the payer among all his blood-kindred with whom marriage is not permissible in Islam.

[2] Then to his neighbour.

[3] Then to the people of his locality.

[4] Then to the people of his own city.

Sheikh Abu Hafs al-Kabir has said, “The alms giving of a man is not received by Allah until he starts it with his needy relatives and meets their needs”.


Zakaat is that amount which is made obligatory by Allaah, to be paid to a particular person, or persons, possessing certain special characteristics, as explained later. It is not payable to any other individual, or for the welfare of any institution which is not a person.