A Word Concerning the Obligation of Az-Zakah and It’s Importance
By His Eminence As-Shaikh Abdul-Aziz bin Abdullah bin Baz (Rahimahullah)
All praise is due to Allah alone, and may blessings and peace be upon him whom there is no Prophet after him (Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam)), and upon his family and Companions.
Verily that which has lead to the writing of this statement is advising and reminding of the obligation of Az-Zakah , which many of the Muslims have taken lightly. Therefore, they do not give it in the way that it is legislated to be given, even with its great status and it being one of the five pillars of Islam, without which Islam’s structure cannot be established properly. This is due to the
Prophet’s statement: “ Islam is built upon five (pillars): The testimony that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishment of the prayer (as-Salah), giving obligatory charity (Az-Zakah ), fasting Ramadan and pilgrimage (Hajj) to the House (al-Ka’bah) .” [Sahih al-Bukhari no.8 & Sahih Muslim no.16] This Hadith’s authenticity is agreed upon.
The obligation of Az-Zakah upon the Muslims is from the most obvious of Islam’s virtues and from its concern with the affairs of those who embrace it. This is due to its numerous benefits and the poor Muslims’ urgently need of it.
From its benefits is strengthening the ties of love between the wealthy and the poor. This is because the souls are naturally inclined to love whoever does good to them.
From its benefits is the cleansing and purification of the soul and keeping it away from the characteristics of greed and stinginess. This is the same meaning that the Nobel Qur’an alludes to in Allah’s Statement: “Take Sadaqah (charity) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allah for them...” (At-Taubah 9:103)
From its benefits is accustoming the Muslim to the characteristics of benevolence, generosity and sympathy for those in need.
From its benefits is the acquisition of blessing, increase and replacement of what was spent. This is as Allah said: "…and whatsoever you spend of anything (in Allah’s Cause), He will replace it. And He is the Best of providers." (Saba' 34:39)
Also the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) said in an authentic Hadith: “Allah the Mighty and Majestic says: O’ son of Adam. Spend and We will spend on you.”[Sahih al-Bukhari no.4684, Sahih Muslim no.993 & Ahmad 2]
And there are many other benefits of Az-Zakah besides these.
A serious threat has come concerning whoever is stingy with Az-Zakah or falls short in giving it. Allah the Most High says: “…And those who hoard up gold and silver [Al-Kanz: the money, the Zakah of which has not been paid], and spend it not in the Way of Allah, -announce unto them a painful torment. On the Day when that (Al-Kanz: money, gold and silver, etc., the Zakah of which has not been paid) will be heated in the Fire of Hell and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, (and it will be said unto them):-"This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves. Now taste of what you used to hoard." (At-Tawbah 9:34-35)
So, every form of wealth that Zakah is due on it and has not been paid, then it is hoarded treasure (Kanz) . Its owner will be tormented with it on the Day of Resurrection. This is just as is proven in the authentic Hadith of the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) when he said: “There is no owner of gold or silver who does not pay its due except that plates of fire would be made for him on the Day of Resurrection, and they would be heated in the fire of Hell. Then his sides, forehead and back would be burned with them. Every time they cool down, the process is repeated for him during a Day that its measure will be fifty thousand years. This will continue until the judgement is pronounced among the servants and then he will see whether his path leads to Paradise or the Fire.” [ Sahih Muslim no.987]
Then the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) mentioned the owner of camels, cows and sheep, who did not pay their Zakah, and he informed that he will be tormented by them on the Day of Resurrection.
It has been authenticated from the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) that he said: “Whoever Allah gives wealth and he does not pay its Zakah, on the Day of Resurrection his wealth will be made like a bald-headed poisonous male snake with two spots over its eyes that will encircle his neck. Then it will take hold of his jaws and say, ‘I am your wealth, I am your hoarded treasure.’” [Sahih al-Bukhari no.1403]
Then the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) recited this Verse: “And let not those who covetously withhold of that which Allah has bestowed on them of His Bounty (Wealth) think that it is good for them (and so they do not pay the obligatory Zakah) . Nay, it will be worse for them; the things which they covetously withheld shall be tied to their necks like a collar on the Day of Resurrection. And to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is Well Acquainted with all that you do. (Aali Imraan 3:180)
Az-Zakah is obligatory on four categories of items:
That which comes out of the ground of grains and fruit, grazing livestock animals, gold and silver, and products that are sold as merchandise.
Each of these four categories of items has a fixed minimum amount and Az-Zakah is not obligatory on whatever is less than that amount.
The minimum amount for grains and fruit is five Awsuq, and one Wasq is equivalent to sixty Sa’ in the measurement of the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) Hence, the minimum amount for dried dates, raisins, wheat, rice, barley and similar items according to the Sa’ measurement of the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) is three hundred Sa’. The measurement of the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) is the amount that fills the two hands of a normal size man four times when they are cupped together.
In reference to the minimum amount for grazing livestock animals, such as camels, cows and sheep, this is explained in detail in the authentic Ahadith of the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) Whoever has desire to know, may ask the people of knowledge about it. Were it not for the fact that this is intended to be a brief discussion, we would have mentioned it here for a complete benefit.
Concerning the minimum amount for silver, it is 140 Mithqaal (a weight equal to about 640 g), and its value in Saudi Arabian currency is 56 riyals worth. The minimum amount for gold is 20 Mithqaal, and its value is Saudi currency is 11 3/7 Saudi Junayhs worth.
The amount that is obligatory to be paid from them (gold and silver) is one fortieth, i.e. 2.5 % for whoever owns the minimum amount of them or of any one of them. Also, they must be possessed for a year (before Az-Zakah is due). Any profit that comes from them is calculated in with the original amount and it does not require a new (i.e. another) year’s time (before Az-Zakah is due on the profit). Similarly, the newborn of the livestock animals are included with the original number (when calculating Az-Zakah) and it does not require another year’s time (before Az-Zakah is due on them), as long as the original number was the minimum amount.
Paper money that people deal with today also has the same ruling as gold and silver, regardless of whether it is called Dirham, Dinar, dollars or any name other than these. If its value reaches the minimum amount due for silver or gold, and the person possesses it for a year, then Az-Zakah is due on it.
Jewellery of women that is particularly made of gold and silver is included along with the ruling of money. If it reaches the minimum amount and it is possessed for a year, Az-Zakah is due on it. It makes no difference whether it is considered for personal use or it is borrowed according to the most correct view of the two views held by the scholars. This is due to the generality of the Prophet’s statement: “There is no owner of gold or silver who does not pay its due except that plates of fire would be made for him on the Day of Resurrection…”[Sahih Muslim no.987]
To the end of the Hadith which has already preceded. This is also due to what has been confirmed from the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) that he saw two bracelets of gold on the hand of a woman, so he said: “Do you give the Zakah of this?” The woman said: “No.” So, he said: “Does it please you that Allah will make them into two bracelets of fire for you on the Day of Judgement?” So, she cast them off and said: “They are for Allah and His Messenger.” [Abu Dawud no.1563 ]
This was recorded by Abu Dawud and an-Nisa’i with a good chain of narration.
It has been confirmed by from Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, she was wearing bangles made of gold, so she said: “O Messenger of Allah, is this hoarded wealth (Kanz) ?” He (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) replied: “Whatever reaches the amount that Az-Zakah should be paid on it and its Zakah is paid, then it is not hoarded wealth (Kanz).” [Abu Dawud no.1564]
There are other Ahadith as well, which have this same meaning.
In reference to merchandise, they are items that are considered for sale. Their value is calculated at the end of the year and 2.5% of it is given as Az-Zakah . It makes no difference whether their value is similar to their price, more than it or less than it.
This is due to the Hadith of Samurah, who said that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) used to order us to give charity from whatever we considered for sale (merchandise). This was recorded by Abu Dawud.
This also includes pieces of land that are intended for sale, buildings, cars, machines for extracting water from the ground and other things from the kinds of merchandise used for selling.
As for buildings that are rented out but are not for sale, then Az-Zakah is due upon the rents from it – if it is possessed for one year. As for buildings themselves, there is no Zakah due on them since they have not been put up for sale.
Likewise, privately owned cars and rental cars are not subject to Az-Zakah payment, as they are not for sale. The owner of these cars only bought them in order to use them. If the owner of the rental car or some other similar person collects an amount of money that reaches the minimum amount, then he must pay Az-Zakah on the money if a year passes while it is in his possession. It makes no difference whether the owner keeps the money for spending, marriage, purchasing property, paying off a debt or any other purpose. This is due to the generality of the legislative evidences that prove the obligation of Az-Zakah for things like this.
The correct view from the opinions of the scholars is that debt does not prevent the obligation of Az-Zakah due to what has been previously mentioned.
Likewise, Az-Zakah is obligatory upon the wealth of the orphans and those who are insane according to the majority of the scholars, if the wealth reaches the minimum amount required and it is possessed for a year. It is obligatory upon the guardians of such people to pay it with the intention of it being on their (the orphan’s or the insane person’s) behalf once a year is a completed on it. This due to the generality of the evidences, for example, there is the statement of the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) in the Hadith of Mu’adh when he sent him to the people of Yemen: “Verily, Allah has made obligatory upon them the payment of charity from their wealth. It is to be taken from their wealthy and distributed among their poor.” [Sahih al-Bukhari no.1395 & Sahih Muslim no.19]
Az-Zakah is the right of Allah. Therefore, it is not permissible to give preferential treatment regarding it to someone who does not deserve it. It should not be used by someone to gain some personal benefit for himself or repel some harm from himself. It should not be used by anyone to protect his own wealth or defend himself from some blame. Rather, it is obligatory upon the Muslim to distribute his Zakah to those who have a right to it, because they are those who are most deserving of it. It should not be given for any other purpose. It should be given with a good and kind spirit and with the intentions being solely for Allah in doing so. This is so that the person will be freed of his responsibility (regarding its payment) and deserving of tremendous reward and replacement of what he gave.
Indeed Allah clarified in His noble book, the categories of people who are eligible for receiving Az-Zakah. Allah said: As-Sadaqaat (here it means Zakah) are only for the Fuqaraa' (poor), and Al-Masaakin (the needy) and those employed to collect (the funds); and for to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s Cause (i.e. for Mujaahidoon - those fighting in the holy wars), and for the wayfarer (a traveller who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise. (At-Taubah 9:60)
In ending this noble verse with these two Mighty Names (‘Aleem and Hakeem) , there is an admonishment from Allah to His servants that He is the All-Knowing concerning the conditions of His servants. He is the All-Knowing concerning who deserves charity among them and who does not. He is the Most Wise regarding His Law and His Decree. He only places things in their proper places that are befitting of them. Even if some people are unaware of some of the secrets of His Wisdom, the servants must be acceptant of His Law and submit to His Verdict.
Allah is the One Who is asked to help us and the Muslims to have understanding of His religion, truthfulness in dealing with Him, haste in doing what pleases Him, and safety from those things that necessitate His Anger. Verily, He is All-Hearing, Most Near.
May Allah send blessings and peace upon His servant and Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family and Companions.
Reference: Fatawa Islamiyah Volume 3 Pages 148-156