Previously Asked Questions
Zakat Questions:

Most of your questions about this topic will be answered by referring to the Explanatory Notes for Song 25 of the Guiding Helper.

> I want to know how to pay Zakat with just money in the bank.  I do not
> own anything or have livestock.

The easiest way to do this in the Maliki School is outlined in footnote
1546 of the Guiding Helper Explanatory Notes.

We have a long explanation of why the ruling we give is actually
acceptable in the Maliki School in the Notes of Sources for the
Explanatory Text.

But in brief, following the literal interpretation of "Zakat is
wajib on wealth only after keeping it for a year [meaning each
and every piece of wealth must be kept track of]" as is stated
in the ancient books of Maliki Law is not practical and too
error-prone for the average person alive today who may
recieve a pay check every other week or every week. The strict
interpretation would force the person to keep track of all his
"pay checks" and the amount he spends from each paycheck separately.
Additionally, it would force him to calculate and re-calculate these
separate amounts depending upon whether the total was above or below
nisab.

He can avoid all this trouble and still fulfill the requirement
of Zakat in the Maliki School by following the simpler ruling we give in
footnote 1546.

> In footnote 1546, regarding the zakat, it is only clarified that one
> should choose the exact lunar month when one has obtained liquid assets
> worth more than 85grams of gold. Should one also choose the exact date
> (exact day) in that month when the zakat year starts/ends or can one pay
> zakat in the end of that month even if one for example received assets
> reaching above the limit in the beginning of the same month the year
> before?

You can choose the middle of the month (15th) as your fiscal year start/end
date for purposes of convention.  But, No: there is no restriction in the
Maliki school for the exact date within the month you must choose.

Reference(s):
   [HM: volume 1: page(s) 43: line(s) 8 : {sharh of murshid, verses 188-189}]

>  Should zakat on gold and silver be paid alone from the other
> liquid assets (cash and worth of business merchandise) as they are not
> included in the calculation explained in the line 1546.

No.  Gold and silver [excluding lawful jewelry] are treated as *cash*. Thus,
they should be included in the calculations.

Reference(s):
[HM: volume 1: page(s) 42: line(s) 23 : {sharh of murshid, verses 186-187}]

> P.S I am having a hard time to understand the zakat chapter, and I am
> reading it everyday, hopefully with some of your help I can learn
> something.

Yes. Just keep reviewing footnote 1546 and the three diagrams immediately
after this footnote.  If you understand that, then you should be able
to pay Zakat fine - even if you don't understand the rest of the Song/Chapter.

For example:

a) You had $2,000 on 15th Rabi al-Awwal 1423
b) You now have $2,500 on 15th Rabi al-Awwal 1424
c) Thus, $2,000 is the lower number in this case
d) But, you have debt of $500 (acquired from other
than the credit purchase of material goods)
e) Thus, $1,500 is the amount subject to Zakat.
f) You must check that this amount is above $900 (U.S.) which
is about the minimum threshold value right now
(85 grams of 24 karat gold).  Also, you must make sure that
 your total liquid assets never dropped below $900 during the
past year - if they did, then no Zakat is due as should be obvious
to those who have reviewed figure 25-2 of the Explanatory Notes.
g) Since the amount subject to Zakat is above $900 in this case,
    you must pay 2.5 % of $1,500 now.
h) 0.025 x 1,500 = 37.50
i) Thus, you owe about $38 in this example which you can
give to a poor person or an organization that collects
Zakat.
This poor person cannot be a close family member but
can be non-Muslim; but, in the case you give to a non-Muslim,
you must tell him/her that this is "Muslim Alms" which we
are obliged to give in care for the less financially well-off.
In the case of a Muslim, there is no need to tell him/her
that the money is Zakat (but you must make your own intention
for Zakat before/during giving the money in either case).

Reference(s)
Explanatory Notes for latter part of Song 25 and associated
entries in the Notes of Sources



> If a woman has a separate bank account and the amount reaches the
> level at which zakat becomes obligatory, does her husband still have to
> pay the zakat or does she pay her own zakat?

Women with their own wealth in separate accounts are responsible for
paying their own Zakat if they hold more than about $900 (US dollars in 2002)
for a full year.

References:
     Footnote 777 of the Explanatory Notes of the Guiding Helper
     snd associated entries in the Notes of Sources


> 1/ Is the difference between the wage-earner and the profits-receiver that the
> latter always should calculate his zakat on the total capital
> (profits+wagemoney) that is held on the end/start of his fiscalyear even
> though it might be larger than the number held one year before, while the
> wage-earner always should calculate his zakat on the lower of the two numbers?

There are three scenarios:

   a) The person only earns wages (e.g., as an employee for
      someone else).
   b) The person only invests business capital or runs his own
      business.
   c) The person earns wages *and* also invests capital (e.g.,
      stocks).

The person in situation (a) should always choose the lower of
the two amounts of his liquid assets which he holds at the start of
his fiscal year and at the end of his fiscal year.

The person in situation (b) should always choose his *current*
amount of his liquid assets which he holds at the end of his
fiscal year.

The person in situation (c), chooses the lower of the two amounts
of his liquid assets that he holds at the start of his fiscal year
and at the end of his fiscal year.  And then, he must add to this
number all remaining profit (which he gained during the past fiscal
year but has not spent it yet).  Thus, in this case he would need
to keep track of the two sources of income and their spending
separately.  If he feels that this is cumbersome (difficult), then
he can act like the person in situation (b) and always choose the
*current* amount of his liquid assets.  In either, case he will
fulfill the requirement of Zakat.

Reference(s):
   Footnotes 1546 to 1547 of the Explanatory Notes and
   Associated Entries in the Notes of Sources

> p.s. I read the line 1547 and tried to analyse the diagram
> but still I was not 100% sure.

> 2/ What kind of a person is a profits-receiver, is that
> like one who earn money by placing them in stocks?

Yes.  A stock investor is a "profit receiver" if he actually
makes a profit.


> Thank you so much for helping me see clear!

Here we will make you see this subject very clearly:

There are three basic ways to obtain wealth:

   a) Free gift
   b) Wage earning
   c) Profit from Capital

All people who live on earth receive their wealth
in one of these three ways.

Some examples of "free gifts" are:  (1) inheritance
money, (2) raffle prize, (3) wedding gift, (4) charity,
(5) offspring from livestock, (6) "gift" from Allah
(some spiritually advanced people gain wealth in this
way), etc.

Some examples of "wage earning" are:  (1) a doctor who
works for a hospital, (2) an engineer who works for
a large company, (3) a writer who works for the newspaper,
(4) a janitor who works for a large building, (5) a teacher
who teaches at school, etc.
We see that the similar point that all these people have
in common is that they work for someone else who pays them
either on an hourly basis or on the basis of the services
which they render.  Thus, these people trade their "sweat"
and "hard work" for wealth - and these people use someone
else's capital to perform their work.

Some examples of "profit from capital" is (1) stock investment,
(2) general business investment in which there is an agreement
that gives the investor a share in the profits received,
(3) a man who has a store in which he sells food and/or
merchandise, (4) a man who deals in exports and imports acting
like a middle man between suppliers and retailers, etc.
The common point about these people is that they use their
*own* capital to earn profits - even if they themselves
work within their businesses with "sweat" and "hard work".

> Now I feel I´ve learned almost every aspect on the zakat part and I am truly grateful
> for your help, it was the pillar of Islam that I knew less about but know I think i may
> manage to follow it thanks to you, mashallah!
> 1/ Now about loans,
> If I make an agreement with a bank to pay of a loan which I took to buy physicgoods
> once a month for a time of 2 years, and lets say I took the loan while I was in the
> middle of my fiscalyear, do I then add the total liquid assets that i have with the total
> amount of all the demands for payment that I received during the last part of my
> current fiscalyear or do I pay zakat on the total loan that I took?

No.  You simply ignore the fact that you took the loan (in such a case) according the
popular opinion in the Maliki school that we are narrating.

The reason we have narrated this opinion is that we live in a credit
economy where many people (who are otherwise well-off/rich) buy physical
property/goods which go beyond their savings.  These people would never
have been considered exempt from Zakat by ancient standards.

Now Ibn Qasim (who was Imam Malik's main statement - and is the first
level source for a popular opinion in the Maliki school) allowed business
people who buy on credit and sell in cash to exempt loans taken to buy
their goods from their Zakat calculations - since their calculations would
include the current merchandise which they hold.  What this means *in net
sum* is that business people who borrow money to buy their merchandise,
do not have to calculate these pieces of merchandise into their Zakatable
amount since these pieces of merchandise cancel out with the loan amount.]

[We are aware that we did not tell you this in our previous example to avoid
 confusing you at that point.  And what we told you before conforms to the
 second-level popular opinion set by Ibn Rushd al-Kabir.]

Reference(s):
  [QF: volume 1: page(s) 88: line(s) 22-25: {book 4, chapter 1, precondition 6}]

> Please can you give me an example of this?

A wage-earning person has $2,500 liquid currency at the end of his fiscal year.

He had $2,000 of liquid currency at the start of his fiscal year.

Thus, the lower of the amounts is $2,000.  We will call this amount C.

He has taken a loan to buy a car for $10,000 which he will repay in four years.

But, since the loan is for buying a physical good, it is *totally ignored* (except
it is valid to deduct the current month's payment from amount C as is noted
in footnote 1494 of the Explanatory Notes as it counts as a "current bill").

For example, the payment may be $208 and he may subtract this current amount
from amount C.  Thus, $2,000 - $208 = $1792.  Thus, $1792 is the amount
subject to Zakat in this example.

2.5% of $1792 = $44.80


> 1/ In line 1487 it is explained that the price of gold and silver should
> be factored in with the the capital of common currency after holding the
> gold or silver for one year.
> But what if I have been holding money (over the minimum threshold) for a
> full year and gold for only 5 months, should I then wait until the next
> year before paying zakat on the gold or should I pay zakat separately on
> the gold after holding it for one full year.

From figure 25-1, we learn that we only look at the end points of
the fiscal year start/end date. We do not worry about what happened
in between as long as the total liquid assets (minus debt) does not
drop below the minimum threshold value.

Thus, the answer to your question is that your total liquid assets
consists of the common currency and also the gold. You must add the two values
together on your Zakat fiscal date this year. Then, you should compare the
value of your total assets a year before on the same lunar date and
choose the lower of these numbers. Then, you should give 2.5% in
Zakat on this lower number.

All this assumes that the gold/silver you are speaking about is
not lawful jewerly - but resembles coins/blocks/rods/decoration-pieces/etc.

Lawful gold/siver jewelry is exempt from Zakat in the Maliki
School.

It is not very complicated once you get a hang of it (understand it).
Feel free to ask for further clarifications.

But in summary, it does not matter (according to the simple calculation
view we are narrating) the exact time when one receives the wealth as long
as one's total assets (minus debt) remain above the minimum threshold value.

> 1/ I don't know if I have understand this
> sentence in the line 1495 correctly:[As for goods that
> are owned for the purpose of selling along with the
> purposes of personal benefit and/or lease, they also
> are exempt from Zakat.]
> Does that mean I don't need to pay zakat on something
> that I am using and at the same time is willing to sell?
> Do I for example have to pay zakat on my car that I am
> driving around while I'm at the same time have it up
> for sale during the start/ending of my fiscal year?

Yes. you understand it correctly, there is no Zakat on
articles that are rented or used for personal benefit
- even if they are up for sale.

Thus, in your example, there is no Zakat due on your
car which you use yourself and have it up for sale.

You understand this correctly.

Reference(s):
al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyyah, Kitab al-Zakat, Zakat `Urud al-Tijarah

> I would like to ask you concerning the matter of paper money. I find it
> a difficult matter when if is considered from the point of view of our
> fiqh. It can be categorized as fulus or factionary currency if we look at
> it as it is now. Or as a debt if we look at it from an historical point of
> view ant its genesis. In both cases it creates serious problems as far as
> the rulings of Zakat or Riba are concerned. Most of the ulama I have asked
> have a tendency to treat paper money as if it is gold or silver therefore
> they say that Zakat should be paid from it and it is riba to lend it in
> order to get benefit. I have noticed that this is also your position. But
> the fact of being flus or a debt changes the fiqh ruling on it. There is a
> fatwa from Shaikh ?Illish al-Maliki (the Sheikh of the Malikis of al-Azhar
> in his time and, by the way, a implacable enemy of Sh. Muhammad Abduh) in
> his collection of fatwas al-Fath al-Ali al-Malik where he says that zakat
> should not be paid on paper money because it is fulus (factionary currency
> made of copper or other material other than gold and silver) and zakat is
> not paid on fulus in the Maliki madhhab.
>
> I do understand both positions but I would like to know if you do have
> more thoughts on this subjet.

The position we narrate is taken our teachers who feel that one should
try one's best to practice the five pillars of Islam even if some
essentials and preconditions cannot be fully met due to one's
uncontrollable circumstances.

This is also the position of Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn `Abdullah ibn
al-Mubarak al-Fathi al-Marakishi al-Maliki al-Muwaqqat, a late scholar
of the last century who came up with this ruling after the French instated
paper currency in Morocco. He states in his Habl al-Matin:

  fi mi'atay dirhamin shar`iyyatin aw `ishrina dinarin shar`iyyatin
  fakthara aw ma yatanazzalu manzalatahuma min hadhihi al-awraqi
  al-hadithah yajibu rub`u l-ushri fihima. wa ma zada `ala dhalika
  wa in qalla fabihisabihi. wa yajuzu ikhraju dh-dhabi `an il-fiddati
  wa l-fiddatu `an dh-dhahabi wa yajuzu ikhraju ma tatanazzalu
  manzilatahuma `anhuma ya yu`tabaru fi dhalika sarfu z-zaman.

  For every 200 dirhams (according to Shari`ah weight) or 20
  dinars (according to Shari`ah weight) or *what is equivalent
  in paper currency*, one forth of a tenth is due on them.

  And it is permissible to pay gold for silver and silver for gold.
  It is also permissible to pay what is equivalent [of paper currency]
  for gold and silver. And one should regard in this matter what
  is considered cash currency in one's time.

  [HM: volume 1: page(s) 42-43: line(s) 23,1-3 :{explanation of
  al-Murshid al-Mu`in, line 187 "`ishruna dinaran nisaban fi
  dh-dhahab..."}]

  And of course, you will find differences among the scholars
  on this point. But, this seems to be the dominant position
  of most of the scholars (e.g., Hanafi, Shafi`i, Maliki) present
  today that teach legal rulings to the common man.-




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