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Loss of the Holdings after Zakah is Due

Jan 10, 2020, 1:54 PM

Once zakah becomes payable on the holdings either because of the completion of a year or harvest time, and the holdings or part of them are lost, the owner still has to pay it. Whether the loss occured owing to negligence or not does not matter.

This is the opinion of Ibn Hazm and the better opinion of the Hanbaliyyah. Abu Hanifah holds that it vitiates the payment of zakah if all the property perishes without the owner’s role in its destruction. When part of it perishes, the perished portion is not subject to zakah. This is in accordance with the rule that zakah is associated with the property itself. However, when the property is deliberately destroyed by the owner, zakah has to be paid. Ash-Shaf’i, al-Hassan ibn Salih, Ishaq, Abu Thaur, and Ibn al-Munzhir hold that if the nisab perishes before zakah is paid, then the owner owes nothing. However, if it perishes subsequent to the accumulation of the nisab, the owner has to pay it. Ibn Qudamah supports this view and says it vitiates the payment of zakah if the property perishes without any negligence on the part of the owner. This is because it is obligatory for the sake of beneficence, which presupposes the existence of the property--and not with the purpose of impoverishing the payers of zakah.

Negligence in this context implies that the owner had accumulated the nisab and thus it was possible for him to pay zakah, but he did not and the property perished. On the contrary, if he did not have the nisab, or the holdings were not in his possession, or they were to be purchased and he could not, then this does not constitute an act of negligence.

Likewise, if it is presumed that the obligation to pay zakah remains even after the holdings are lost, and the owner has the means to pay it, then he must do so. Otherwise, he should be granted a respite in order to fulfill his obligation to pay zakah. This is akin to a debt one owes to someone but the debt owed to Allah should be considered more important.

The Loss of Zakah After it is Set Aside  

When a person sets aside zakah for distribution among the poor and all of it or some of it is lost, he must repay it because it is still his responsibility.

Ibn Hazm says: “We received a narration from Ibn Abi Shaibah on the authority of Hafs ibn Ghayath, Jarir, al-Mu’tamir ibn Sulaiman at-Taymi, Zaid ibn al-Hubab, and ‘Abdulwahhab ibn ‘Ata; also from Hafs, who narrated on the authority of Hisham ibn Hassan from al-Hassan al-Basri; Jarir who reported, on the authority of al-Mughirah from his companions; and al-Mu’tamir who reported from Mu’amar from Hammad; and Zaid who reported from Shu’bah from al-Hakam; and ‘Abdulwahhab who reported on the authority of Ibn Abi ‘Urubah from Hammad from Ibrahim an-Nakha’i that whoever sets aside zakah from his property and then it is lost, his obligation to pay zakah still remains to be discharged, and he must set it aside again.”

There exists, however, another opinion on it: “We received a narration on the authority of ‘Ata’ that the obligation will be discharged [if set aside and lost],” says Ibn Hazm.

Delaying of Zakah (Payment) Does Not Void it 

Ash-Shaf’i holds that anyone who does not pay zakah for a number of years must pay it all together. Whether or not he is aware of its obligation or he happens to be in a Muslim or non-Muslim land, makes no difference. Based on the opinion of Malik, ash-Shaf’i and Abu Thaur, Ibn al-Munzhir says: “When unjust people rule a country and the people of that country do not pay their zakah for a number of years, then their new leader should take it from them.”

The Payment of the Value Instead of Paying the Item Itself 

It is not permissible to pay the value instead of the item itself, except in the case of non-existence, for zakah is an act of worship which can only be fulfilled according to the specified manner, with the rich sharing their wealth with the poor Mu’azh reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, sent him to Yemen and told him: “Take grain from grain, sheep from sheep, camels from camels, and cows from cows.” This hadith is narrated by Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, al-Baihaqi, and al-Hakim. It should be noted that there is an interruption in the chain of this hadith, since ‘Ata’ did not hear it from Mu’azh.

Disapproving of substitution, ash-Shaukani says: “The truth of the matter is that zakah is obligatory on the item itself and should not be substituted for its value except where there is a valid excuse.”

Abu Hanifah permits the acceptance of the value whether the individual owing could pay it in the items itself or not because zakah is the right of the poor, and he believed that it made no difference whether it was paid in the item or in something else of equal value. Al-Bukhari reports, with a firm statement, that Mu’azh asked the people of Yemen to give him either goods or clothes of silk or garments as zakah instead of barley and corn because it was more convenient for them. The companions of the Prophet, (SAW), were also given the choice in Madinah.

Zakah on Shared Property 

When holdings are shared between two or more partners, zakah is not obligatory on either one until all of them attain a nisab individually. This is the opinion of most scholars. This does not include the combination of animals, which has been discussed earlier.

Evading the Payment of Zakah 

The opinion of Malik, al-Auza’i, Ishaq, Ahmad, and Abu ‘Ubaid is that whoever possesses a nisab of any kind of property and then sells it before the completion of the year hawl, or gives it away as a gift, or damages part of it with the intention of avoiding its zakah, he still must pay its zakah. If he engages himself in any of the preceding acts at a time when his obligation to pay zakah is about to mature, he will be forced to pay it. If, however, any of the preceding acts happen at the beginning of the hawl, this will not constitute an evasion, and he will be (legally) free from his obligation to pay zakah.

Abu Hanifah and ash-Shaf’i hold that since the amount decreased before the end of the hawl, zakah will not be paid on it. He would still be considered a wrongdoer and disobedient to Allah for attempting to escape it. The early Muslims based their rationale on the ‘ayahs in which Allah, the Exalted One, says: “Lo! We have tried them as We tried the owners of the garden when they vowed they would pluck its fruit the next morning, and made no reservation [for the will of Allah]. Then a visitation from your Lord came upon it while they were asleep. So the garden became a dark and desolate spot in the morning, as if it were plucked” [al-Mulk 17-20]. Allah punished those people for avoiding their obligation to the poor.

Zakah, as such, will still be due and the person has to pay it because his intention was to deprive the poor of their share in his wealth. This would be similar to the case of a man who divorces his wife during his terminal illness. His evil intention calls for punishment as a redemptive act. Another case of a similar nature would be that of a person who kills his benefactor so that he could have his inheritance. In that case, Allah punishes him by depriving him of his inheritance.

To be continued