Zakah in Advance
It is permissible for zakah to be paid for even two years in advance. Al-Zuhri did not see any problem in paying his zakah before the hawl. Al-Hasan was once asked if a man who had paid his zakah for three years in advance fulfilled his obligation. Al-Hasan answered in the affirmative. Of this view, ash-Shaukani said: “This was the view of ash-Shaf’i, Ahmad, and Abu Hanifah. It was supported by al-Hadi and al-Qasim.” Al-Mu’ayyad-billah also subscribes to this opinion as being better, but he says that Malik, Rabi’ah, Sufyan ath-Thauri, Dawud, Abu ‘Ubayd ibn al-Harith, and an-Nasir (who comes from the Prophet’s family) held that one’s obligation is not discharged if the zakah is paid before the expiration of the year. They formulated their stance on the Prophet’s hadith, already mentioned, which makes the zakah mandatory for the payer only when he has his possessions for a year. However, this does not invalidate the view of those who maintain that paying zakah in advance is lawful, for undeniably the obligation of zakah is associated with the expiry of one full year. The difference is only on the point of whether one’s obligation is discharged if the zakah is paid before the year has expired.” Ibn Rushd sums up the subject: “The controversy arises from the question whether it is an act of worship or an obligation owed to the poor. The group which considers it an act of worship, like Salah (prayers), does not agree that it should be paid before its time. On the other hand, the group which views it as similar to the case of deferred obligatory dues approves its voluntary payment in advance.” In support of his view, ash-Shaf’i relates a hadith from ‘Ali that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, asked for al-’Abbas’ Sadaqah before its due date.
Invoking Blessing for the Zakah Payer
It is desirable that the recipient invoke blessing for the zakah payer at the time of its payment, for Allah says: “Take alms of their property that you may purify and sanctify them and pray for them. Verily, your prayers are a comfort for them” [at-Taubah 103]. It is related from ‘Abdullah ibn Abu Awfa that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, on receiving Sadaqah would say: “O Allah, bless the family of Abu Aufa.” This is related by Ahmad and others.
Wa’il ibn Hajr reported that the Prophet, (SAW), prayed for a man who had offered a fine she-camel in his zakah payment: “May Allah bless him and make his camels beneficial to him.” This is related by an-Nasa’i.
Ash-Shaf’i says: “According to this hadith, the leader may pray for the almsgiver upon receiving his payment by saying: ‘May Allah reward you in turn of what you have offered, and may Allah bless what you still possess.’ “
Holdings subject to zakah
Islam enjoined zakah on crops, fruit, livestock, merchandise, minerals, gold, silver, and treasures.
Zakah on Gold and Silver
Says Allah concerning zakah on gold and silver: “... As for those who hoard treasures of gold and silver and do not spend them for the sake of Allah--warn them of grievous suffering [in the life to come]” [at-Taubah 34]. Thus, zakah is prescribed for gold and silver--whether they are in the form of coins, ingots, or dust--as long as the amount owned constitutes a Nisab, a period of a year has passed, debts are settled, and/or basic needs satisfied from it.
The Nisab of Gold and Its Due
The minimum of Nisab for gold is twenty dinars owned for one year. Its due is a quarter of a tenth, that is, half a dinar. For any amount over twenty dinars, a quarter of a tenth is levied upon it. ‘Ali reported that the Prophet, (SAW): “There is nothing upon you in gold, until it reaches twenty dinars. Thus, if you have twenty dinars at the end of the year, then there is half a dinar levied on it [as zakah]. Any additional amount will be calculated in this manner. There is no zakah on property until it has been owned for one year.” This hadith is related by Ahamd, Abu Dawud, and al-Baihaqi. Al-Bukhari grades it authentic and al-Hafizh verified it.
Zuraiq, the Fazarah clan’s protégé, reported that ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdulaziz wrote to him after he became caliph: “Take what passes by you of the commerce of the Muslims--those who trade with their properties--a dinar for each forty dinars. From that which is less than forty, calculate on the lesser amount until it reaches twenty dinars. If you have to take one-third of a dinar, disregard it and do not take anything on it. Afterwards, give them a written release of what you have levied from them until the year expires.” This is related by Ibn Abu Shaibah.
Malik says in his al-Muwatta’: “The uncontroversial tradition that we have is that the zakah due on twenty dinars is like the zakah due on two hundred dirhams.” Twenty dinars are equal to twenty-eight Egyptian dirhams in weight.
The Nisab of Silver and its Due
There is no zakah on silver until the amount exceeds two hundred dirhams. The amount payable is a quarter of a tenth for any amount. There is no zakah exemption on (silver) coins if they attain a Nisab.
‘Ali reported that the Prophet, (SAW), said: “I exempt you from paying zakah on horses and slaves. Pay, then, zakah on silver, one dirham for each forty dirhams. Zakah is not due on ninety or one hundred dirhams of silver. If it reaches two hundred dirhams, five dirhams are to be paid.” This was related by the authors of as-Sunnan (The Traditions). At-Tirmizhi relates: “I asked al-Bukhari if he confirms this hadith. He said: ‘It is authentic.’ “At-Tirmizhi also says: “Jurists recognize that Sadaqah should be taken out of any amount less than five ounces (Awaq). One ounce (Uqiyyah) equals forty dirhams. Five Awaq equal 200 dirhams. Two hundred dirhams equal twenty-seven riyals equal 555 1/2 Egyptian piasters.”
Combining Gold and Silver
If a person owns gold and silver, but neither of them on its own constitutes a Nisab, he should not combine the two in order to obtain a Nisab. This is because they are not of the same kind. The basic rule is that no category can be combined with another. It is the same for cows and sheep. For example, if someone has 199 dirhams and nineteen dinars, he is not supposed to pay zakah on them.
Zakah on Debt
Debts are of two kinds:
1. A debt which is acknowledged by the debtor with the willingness to pay it off.
2. A debt which is not acknowledged either because the borrower is insolvent or its payment is deferred.
In the first case, scholars have formed the following views:
The first view:
‘Ali, ath-Thauri, Abu Thaur, the Hanafiyyah, and the Hanbaliyyah hold that the creditor should pay zakah on the debt, provided he has received it from the debtor, in that zakah will be payable retroactively.
The Second view:
‘Uthman, Ibn ‘Umar, Jabir, Tawus, an-Nakha’i, al-Hasan, az-Zuhri, Qatadah, and ash-Shaf’i hold that the creditor should pay zakah on the value of a debt owed on time, even though he did not receive it yet, since he is eventually going to receive it and use it. It is similar to the zakah of any deposited amount.
The third view:
‘Ikrimah, ‘Aishah, and Ibn ‘Umar hold that no zakah is due on debt since it does not grow. It is similar to the case of acquired assets.
The fourth view:
Sa’id ibn al-Musayyab and ‘Ata ibn Abu Rabah hold that zakah should be paid for one year if the debt is returned to the creditors.
For the second case, Qatadah, Ishaq ibn Abu Thaur, and the Hanifiyyah hold that its zakah is not compulsory on this type of debt, since the creditor cannot benefit from it. Ath-Thauri and Abu ‘Ubayd hold that on receipt (of it) the creditor should pay its zakah retroactively since it his and he may use it at his own free will, like the zakah on the debt of a rich person. The last two views are attributed to ash-Shaf’i. ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdulaziz, al-Hasan, al-Layth, al-Auza’i and Malik agree that he should pay zakah on it for only one year when he receives it.
To be continued