And [in the daytime and at night]
establish regular prayers and pay Zakāt and [for the cause of your religion
and state] lend to Allah a befitting loan, and remember whatever good you send
forth for yourselves you shall find it with Allah better than before and
greater in reward. (73:20)
In the verse quoted above, and at
numerous other places in the Qur’ān, Muslims are directed to pay Zakāt from
their wealth. In religious parlance, Zakāt means the wealth given in the way
of Allah to obtain purity of heart and to obtain the blessings of Allah. The
root of the word Zakāt, in Arabic, has two meanings “purity” and “growth”. The
words “purify them” in the first and “people who will increase their wealth”
in the second verse of the Qur’ān quoted below allude to these two meanings of
Take alms from their wealth [O
Prophet!] in order to cleanse them and purify them with it. (9:103)
And that which you give as loan on
interest in order that may increase on other people’s wealth has no increase
with Allah; but that which you give as Zakāt, seeking Allah’s countenance, it
is these people who will increase their wealth [in the Hereafter]. (30:39)
Subsequently, this word was
specifically used for the wealth a Muslim gives to those in authority to meet
the collective requirements of a state. It is evident from the Qur’ān that
like Salāt (prayer), Zakāt has always remained an essential ingredient of the
Sharī`ah given to the Prophets of Allah. When the Almighty directed the
Muslims to pay Zakāt, it was not an unknown thing to them. All the followers
of the religion of Abraham (sws) were well aware of its philosophy as well as
its rates and statutory exemptions. Consequently, there was no need to state
the details of Zakāt in the Qur’ān. It was a pre-existing Sunnah which the
Qur’ān only revived and which the Prophet (sws), on the Almighty’s bidding,
established as a directive of the Sharī`ah among the Muslims. If, irrespective
of the differences of the Jurists in understanding the concept of Zakāt, the
details of this directive which have reached us through the consensus of the
Companions of the Prophet (sws) and their practical perpetuation, 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:
Nothing except means of production,
personal items of daily use and a fixed quantity called nisāb are exempt from
Zakāt. It shall be levied annually on wealth of al sorts, livestock of all
types and production of all forms of every Muslim citizen who is liable to it.
However, if some need arises, an Islamic State can give relaxation on any
The statutory exemptions in wealth,
livestock and agricultural production are fixed as:
(a) Wealth: 5 ounces / 612 grams of
silver or its equivalent.
(b) Production: 5 Wasaqs / 1119
kilograms of dates or their equivalent.
(c) Livestock: 5 camels, 30 cows, 40
(a) Wealth: 2 ½% annually
(b) Production: (i) 5 %: on all items
which are produced both by the interaction of labour and capital, (ii) 10 % on
items which are produced such that the basic factor in producing them is
either labour or capital and (iii) 20% on items which are produced neither as
a result of capital nor labour but actually are a gift of God.
--- From 5 to 24: 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
--- From 46 to 60: one three-year old
--- From 61 to 75: one four-year old
--- From 76 to 90: two two-year old
--- From 91 to 120: two three-year old
--- Over 120: one two-year old
she-camel on every forty camels and one three year old on every fifty camels.
--- one one-year old calf on every
thirty cows and one two-year old calf on every forty cows.
--- From 40 to 120: one she-goat.
--- From 121 to 200: two she-goats.
--- From 200 to 300: three she-goats.
--- Over 300: one she-goat on every
The heads in which Zakāt is to be
spent were never unclear. It was always expended on the poor and 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:
Zakāt 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. An obligation decreed by the Almighty, the
All-Knowing and the Wise. (9:60)
Here are some details of the heads of
Zakāt mentioned in this verse:
(a) The poor and the needy.
(b) al-`aāmilīna `alayhā:
the salaries of all the administrative officials of the state .
(c) al-mu'allafat-i-qulūbuhum: all
political expenditures in the interest of Islam and the Muslims.
(d) Fi al-riqāb: For liberation from
slavery of all kinds.
(e) Ghārimīn: For helping people who
are suffering economic losses, or are burdened with a fine or a loan.
(d) Fī sabīlillāh: For serving Islam
and for the welfare of the citizens.
(e) Ibn al-sabīl: For helping
travellers and for the construction of roads, bridges and rest houses.
This is all as far as the Sharī`ah
regarding Zakāt 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 personal-possession (tamlīk-i-dhātī)
imposed by our jurists. Therefore, just as Zakāt can be given in the personal
possession of an individual, it can also be spent on projects of his welfare
Secondly, 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 and fees of all forms obtained in various ventures must
be classified as produce and not as wealth; therefore, their rates and nisāb
should be those specified by the Prophet (sws) for land produce.
Thirdly, according to the above
mentioned principle, Zakāt on leased-out houses, properties and other rented
items should be 10% of the rent and if they are not rented out, it should be 2
1/2 % of their market value.
Fourthly, the nisāb of all items which
are analogously linked such as those above, can be fixed by the state if need
be by analogy with the ones specified.