THE ISLAMIC LAW OF ZAKAT | PART.5
In the Name of God, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful.
الإمامُ الكاظمُ (عَلَيهِ الّسَلامُ): إنّ اللّهَ عزّوجلّ وَضَعَ الزَّكاةَ قُوتاً للفُقَراءِ وتَوفِيرا لِأموالِكُم
Imam Al-Kadhim (as) said, ‘Verily God has fixed the alms-tax as a provision for the poor and a proliferation of your wealth.’
[Al-Kafi, v. 3, p. 498, no. 6]
Disposal of Zakat
1. Who should you pay Zakat for?
Answer: Zakat can be spent for the following eight purposes:
(1) It may be given to poor person, who does not possess actual or potential means to meet his own expenses, as well as that of his family for a period of one year. However, a person who has an art or possesses property or capital to meet his expenses, is not classified as poor.
(2) It may be paid to a miskin (a destitute person) who leads a harder life than a Faqir (a poor person).
(3) It can be given to a person who is a Wakil of Holy Imam (A.S.) or his representative to collect Zakat, to keep it in safe custody, to maintain its accounts and to deliver it to the Imam or his representative or to the poor.
(4) It can be given to those non-Muslims who may, as a result, be inclined to Islam, or may assist the Muslims with the Zakat for fighting against the enemies, or for other justified purposes. It also can be given to those Muslims whose faith in the Prophet (saw) or in the Wilayat of Amirul Momineen (as) is unstable and weak, provided that, as a result of giving, their faith is entrenched.
(5) It can be spent to purchase the slaves to set them free.
(6) It can be given to an indebted person who is unable to repay his debt.
(7) It may be spent in the way of God for things which has common benefit to the Muslims; for example, to construct a mosque, or a school for religious education, or to keep the city clean, or to widen or to build tar roads.
(8) It may be given to a stranded traveller.
These are the ways in which zakat can be spent; however, in the 3rd and 4th cases, the owner cannot spend zakat without the permission of the Imam (as) or his representative. And based on obligatory precaution, in the 7th case, the owner must obtain permission from a fully qualified jurist. The laws (aḥkām) concerning these ways will be explained in the following rulings (masāʾil):
2. Can a poor person take a sum of Zakat that is more than his expenses?
Answer: The obligatory precaution is that a poor and destitute person should not receive Zakat more than his expenses and those of his family, for one year. And if he possesses some money or commodity, he should receive Zakat equivalent to the shortfall in meeting his expenses for a year.
And if a person had enough amount to meet his expenses for a year, and he spent something out of it, and then doubts whether or not the remaining amount will be sufficient to meet his expenses for one year, he cannot receive Zakat.
3. Can an artisan, a landowner, or a merchant whose income is less than his expenses for one year take Zakat to meet his annual shortfall?
Answer: An artisan, a land-owner, or a merchant whose income is less than his expenses for one year can take Zakat to meet his annual shortfall, and it is not necessary for him to sell off his tools, property, or spend his capital in order to meet his expenses.
4. Can a poor person take Zakat even if he lives in a house or owns a car?
Answer: A poor person who has no means of meeting his own expenses, and those of his family, for one year, can receive Zakat, even if he owns a house in which he lives, or possesses a means of transport, without which he cannot lead his life, or it may be to maintain his self-respect. And the same rule applies to household equipments, utensils and dresses for summer and winter, and other things needed by him (i.e. he can take Zakat even if he possesses these things). And if a poor person does not have these essential things, he can purchase them from Zakat, if he needs them.
5. If it is not difficult for a poor person to learn an art, should he depend on Zakat?
Answer: If it is not difficult for a poor person to learn an art, he should not, as an obligatory precaution, depend on Zakat. However, he can receive Zakat as long as he is learning the art.
6. If a person who was poor previously says that he is still poor, can Zakat be given to him even if the person giving Zakat may not be satisfied with what he says?
Answer: If a person who was poor previously says that he is still poor, Zakat can be given to him, even if the person giving Zakat may not be satisfied with what he says. But if a person was not known to be poor previously, Zakat cannot be given to him, as a precaution, till one is satisfied about his poverty.
And if a person says that he is poor, and he was not poor previously, and if one is not satisfied with what he says, the obligatory precaution is that Zakat should not be given to him.
7. If a Zakat giver is the creditor of a poor person, can he adjust the debt against Zakat?
Answer: If a Zakat giver is the creditor of a poor person, he can adjust the debt against Zakat. (If a person who must give zakat is owed some amount by a poor person, he can count the amount he is owed by the poor person towards his zakat)
And If a poor man dies, and his property is not as much as it may liquidate his debt, the creditor can adjust his claim against Zakat. And even if his property is sufficient to clear his debt, but his heirs do not pay his debt, or the creditor cannot get back his money for any other reason, he can adjust the debt against Zakat.
8. Is it necessary for a person who gives Zakat to mention to the poor that it is Zakat?
Answer: It is not necessary for a person who gives Zakat to mention to the poor that it is Zakat. In fact, if the poor feels ashamed of it, it is recommended that he should not mention at all that he has given with the intention of Zakat.
9. If a person gives Zakat to a poor and then realizes that he is not poor, will the zakat be valid / accepted?
Answer: If a person gives Zakat to someone thinking that he is poor, and understands later that he was not poor, or owing to his not knowing the rule, gives Zakat to a person who he knows is not poor, it will not be sufficient. Hence, if the Zakat which he gave to that poor still exists, he should take it back from him, and give it to the person entitled to it. And if that thing does not exist, and the person who took it was aware that he was given from Zakat, the Zakat payer should obtain its substitute from him, and give it to the person entitled to it.
And if the receiver was not aware that it was Zakat, nothing will be taken from him, and the person who has to pay Zakat will give the substitute from his own property.
10. If person who is indebted and is unable to repay his debt, can he receive Zakat to repay it?
Answer: A person who is indebted and is unable to repay his debt, can receive Zakat to repay it, even if he has the means to meet his expenses for one year. However, it is necessary that he should not have spent the loan for some sinful purpose.
And if a person gives zakat to someone who is in debt but is unable to repay his debt and he later realises that the debtor spent the loan for a sinful purpose, in the event that the debtor is poor, the person can count what he gave him as the portion of zakat that is given to poor people.
11. With regard to a person who is in debt but is unable to repay his debt, can the lender count the amount owed to him by the person as zakat even if the person is not poor?
Answer: With regard to a person who is in debt but is unable to repay his debt, the lender can count the amount owed to him by the person as zakat even if the person is not poor.
12. If a traveller runs out of funds or his means of transportation stops functioning, in the event that the purpose of his journey is not sinful and he cannot reach his destination by borrowing or by selling something, can he receive zakat even if he is not a poor person in his home town (waṭan)?
Answer: if a traveller is stranded because he has no money left with him, or his means of transport does not function, he can receive Zakat, provided that his journey is not for a sinful purpose, and that he cannot reach his destination by taking a loan or by selling something. He can receive Zakat even if he is not poor in his hometown.
But if he can raise money for the expenses of his journey to another place nearby, by borrowing money or selling something, he should take only that much of Zakat, which would enable him to reach that place.
And if a person is stranded while journeying and takes Zakat and some quantity of Zakat remains unspent when he reaches his hometown, he should surrender it to the Mujtahid and tell him that it is Zakat.
Qualifications of those Entitled to Receive Zakat
13. Is it necessary that the person to whom Zakat is paid is a Shi’ah Ithna’ashari?
Answer: It is necessary that the person to whom Zakat is paid is a Shi’ah Ithna’ashari. If, therefore, one pays Zakat to a person under the impression that he is a Shi’ah, and it transpires later that he is not a Shi’ah, one should pay Zakat again.
But there is no problem in extending the recommended charity [Sadaqa] to [a non-Muslim] who does not show hatred against Islam and Muslims; and one who gives such a charity will be rewarded for this deed.
14. If a child or an insane Shi’ah person is poor, can a person give Zakat to his guardian?
Answer: If a child or an insane Shi’ah person is poor, a person can give Zakat to his guardian with the intention that whatever he is giving will belong to the child or to the insane person.
And if a person has no access to the guardian of the child or of the insane person, he can utilise Zakat for the benefit of the child or of the insane person himself, or through an honest person. And he will do the Niyyat of Zakat, when the money has reached for the purpose.
15. Can Zakat be given to a poor beggar who spends the money for sinful purposes?
Answer: Zakat can be given to a poor man who begs but cannot be given to a person who spends it for sinful purpose. In fact, as a precaution, it cannot be given to a poor man who, as a result of receiving, feels encouraged to commit sins, even if he does not spend that sum for sinful purposes.
16. Can Zakat be given to a drunkard?
Answer: As an obligatory precaution, Zakat cannot be given to a drunkard, or one who does not offer daily prayers, or one who commits major sins openly.
17. Can the debt of a person, who can not repay his debt, be paid out of Zakat although it may be obligatory for one giving Zakat to meet the expenses of that person (i.e. one who is indebted)?
Answer: The debt of a person, who cannot repay his debt; can be paid out of Zakat although it may be obligatory for one giving Zakat to meet the expenses of that person (i.e. one who is indebted).
18. Can a person pay for the living expenses of those whose expenses are obligatory on him – such as his children – from the zakat?
Answer: A person cannot pay for the living expenses of those whose expenses are obligatory on him – such as his children – from zakat. However, if he does not pay for their living expenses, then others can give zakat to them. And if he is unable to give obligatory maintenance (nafaqah) for those whom it is obligatory on him to give obligatory maintenance, and if zakat is obligatory on him, he can give their obligatory maintenance from zakat.
19. Is there a problem if one gives zakat to his son so that he can pay for the living expenses of his wife, servant, or maid, or so that he can repay his loan?
Answer: There is no problem if one gives zakat to his son so that he can pay for the living expenses of his wife, servant, or maid, or so that he can repay his loan, provided that his son satisfies all the other criteria for being entitled to receive zakat.
20. Can a father pay for the religious or secular books required by his son for education, from Zakat money?
Answer: Father cannot pay for the religious or secular books required by his son for education, from Zakat money, except when public welfare warrants it, and as a precaution, he has sought the permission of the Mujtahid.
21. If a father is not financially capable of getting his son married, can he get him married by spending Zakat?
Answer: If a father is not financially capable of getting his son married, he can get him married by spending Zakat, and the son can similarly do so for his father.
22. Can Zakat be given to a wife whose husband provides for her subsistence?
Answer: Zakat cannot be given to a wife whose husband provides for her subsistence, nor to one whose husband does not provide for her subsistence, if it is possible for her to refer to Mujtahid who would compel him to provide.
23. If a woman who has contracted temporary marriage (Mut’ah) is poor, can the husband give her Zakat?
Answer: If a woman who has contracted temporary marriage (Mut’ah) is poor, her husband and others can give her Zakat. But if the contract had a condition that the husband would maintain her for her expenses, or if it is obligatory on the husband for some other reason to maintain her, and he fulfils the obligation, Zakat cannot be given to her.
24. Can a wife give zakat to her husband who may be poor?
Answer: A wife can give Zakat to her husband who may be poor even if the husband may in turn spend that Zakat for her, being his wife.
25. Can a Sayyid take Zakat from a non-Sayyid?
Answer: A Sayyid cannot take Zakat from a non-Sayyid. However, if Khums and other religious dues are not sufficient to meet the expenses of a Sayyid and he has no alternative, he may take Zakat from a non-Sayyid.
And Zakat can be given to a person about whom one is not sure whether he is a Sayyid or not.
| Ayatollah Sayyed Ali As-Sistani and Amir Zabidi
THE ISLAMIC LAW OF ZAKAT | PART.5