Dec 22, 2009, 2:07 PM
Estimation of Nisab on Palm Trees and Grapevines Through Khars, Not by Measure
As soon as palm trees and grapevines ripen and their produce is ready to be picked, an estimation of their Nisab is made without their actual weighing. The process is carried out by a knowledgeable and trustworthy person who estimates the amount of fresh grapes and dates still on the trees for zakah as if they were dry dates and raisins. The amount of zakah is, however, payable when the fruit becomes dry.
Abu Humayd as-Sa’idi related: “We went on the expedition of Tabuk with the Prophet, (SAW). When we arrived at Wadi al-Qura, we saw a woman in her orchard. The Prophet said: ‘Let us estimate [her zakah].’ Then the Messenger, (SAW), estimated ten Awsuq and told her: ‘[The amount of zakah] has been calculated on your [orchard’s] produce.’ “This is narrated by al-Bukhari.
This is the practice of the Messenger of Allah, (SAW), and his companions and the scholars observed it.
The Hanafiyyah have different views because they consider conjecture to be uncertain, and therefore, of no use in determining the amount owed. Still, the tradition of the Messenger of Allah is a better guide (‘Azha) because conjecture is not guessing; it is a diligent attempt to estimate the amount of the produce. It is the same as estimating the amount of the produce lost (because of its being rotten or moth-ridden). The basis for conjecture rests on the custom that people eat fresh fruits, and as such, there is no need for calculating the amount of zakah before it is eaten or plucked. In this way, the owners are allowed to do what they want and, at the same time, to determine the amount of zakah. The appraiser should ignore a third or a fourth of the produce as a reprieve for the property owners since they, their guests, and their neighbors need to eat some of it. Also, the produce is exposed to such perils as birds feeding, passers-by plucking, and wind blowing. Any appraisal of the amount of zakah on all of the produce without excluding a third or a fourth of it (for the preceding reasons) would have militated against the genuine interests of the owners.
Sahl ibn Abu Hathamah related that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: “Whenever you conjecture, estimate the [zakah] and ignore one-third. If you do not, then leave [at least] one-fourth.” This is narrated by Ahmad and the authors of Sunan, except for Ibn Majah. It was also reported by al-Hakim and Ibn Hibban, and they both authenticated it. Commenting on the status of the report, at-Tirmizhi says: “The hadith reported by Sahl is the one enacted or followed by most scholars.” Bashir ibn Yassar said: “When ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab appointed Abu Hathamah al-Ansari to estimate the property of Muslims, he told him: ‘Whenever you see that the people have left some dates unplucked for autumn, leave them for the people to eat, and do not estimate the zakah on them.’ “
Makhul said: “Whenever the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, assigned someone to estimate, he would say: ‘Be easy on the people, for some of their property [trees] could be barren, some low, and some for [their] eating.’ “It was narrated by Abu ‘Ubaid, who added: “The low palm tree is called as-sabilah and allows its fruit to be plucked by passers-by. The eating tree (al-akilah) is a palm tree especially designated as an eating tree for the owner’s family or for whoever is attached to them.”
Eating of the Grains
It is permissible for the owner to eat from the grain, and whatever he consumes will not be included in the quantity subject to zakah, for this is a long-standing custom. In any case, only a small amount is actually eaten. It is the same as an owner of a fruit bearing tree eating some of its produce. Therefore, the zakah will be estimated on the actual amount after he harvests the crop and husks the seeds. Ahmad was asked about the eating of farik (rubbed green wheat) by the owner, and he answered that there is no harm if the owner eats what he needs. This is also the opinion of ash-Shaf’i, al-Layth and Ibn Hazm. However, Malik and Abu Hanifah hold that the owner will have to account for what he eats.
Combining Grains and Fruit
Scholars agree that various kinds of fruit can be combined even if their quality is different--that is, excellent or bad in quality. Different kinds of raisins may also be combined together, and so can the various kinds of wheat and cereals.
They also agree that merchandise and its cash value received can be combined. Ash-Shaf’i allows combining goods and cash only when purchased because the nisab is calculated upon that. Scholars also do not allow the combination of certain categories with others in order to attain a nisab, with the exception of grains and fruits. That is why one category of animals cannot be combined with another. For example, camels cannot be added to cattle to complete a nisab, nor can fruit be combined with raisins.
Scholars have different points of view in regard to combining various types of grains with one another. The best and the most correct opinion is that no two things can be combined to calculate a nisab. The nisab must be considered on every category by itself. This is because there are various categories and many kinds. Therefore, barley cannot be added to wheat, nor can the latter be added to the former, which is also true of dates and raisins, and chickpeas and lentils. This is the opinion of Abu Hanifah, ash-Shaf’i, and Ahmad, according to one of the reports. Most of the early scholars hold this opinion.
Ibn al-Munzhir says that most scholars concur that camels cannot be combined with cattle or sheep, or cattle with sheep, nor dates with raisins. Thus, there can be no combining of different kinds of produce or animals. Those who allow such a practice do it without any authentic proof.
When Zakah is Due on Plants and Fruits
Zakah is due on plants when the grains mature and are ready to be rubbed off and on the fruit when it is ripened. In the case of dates, for example, the indication will be their brightness or red color, and with grapes their sweetness. Zakah becomes due only after grains are husked or the fruit becomes dried. If the farmer sold his grain after it had matured, and the fruit after it had ripened, then its zakah will be paid by him and not the buyer. This is because the obligation to pay zakah became due when the produce was still in the owner’s possession.