Zakaat FAQ

What is the meaning of “zakat”?

Zakaat is to assign specific wealth to a specific person. Zakaat is a very important act of worship. One gains the reward for giving it and the poor and destitute fulfill their needs by receiving it by which social peace and cohesion is maintained.  Zakaat was made obligatory in the year 5 Hijri. Its distribution should be swift and delaying it is a sin. The literal meaning of “zakat” is purification and blessings, because the one who gives it becomes purified and finds increase in good deeds. That is, by giving zakaat, a person’s wealth that has become unknowingly and unintentionally doubtful is, by it, purified and additionally barkat or blessings in wealth are increased by it. That is why this action is called zakaat. It is also called sadaqah (charity) because it is a proof of the giver’s truthfulness of faith and his or her proof of Islam.

Who is responsible for paying zakaat? On who is zakaat an obligation? Who should calculate their zakaat?

Every Muslim free from bondage, who has reached the age of puberty, and who has reached nisaab should calculate their zakaat each year and disburse it as soon as possible thereafter. Additionally, debt and neediness is discussed in subsequent questions.

What is nisaab?

Nisaab is a value that one may reach in the year, of cash (based on gold or silver), or jewellery, or (valuable) cutlery, or its equivalent in trading goods (for the one who is in business). The one who has an equivalent or greater amount of nisaab at any particular time of the year, and one full year has passed without him or her falling below nisaab, becomes responsible for Zakaat provided he or she fulfills the other conditions mentioned earlier.

 How do I know if I have reached nisaab?

The nisaab amount for gold is 85 grams (7 and 1/2 tolas). That is, if you have 85 or more grams of gold or equivalent in cash, then you have reached nisaab. If you have 595 grams (52 and 1/2 tolas) or more of silver, or equivalent in cash, then you have reached nisaab. To determine the cash value of nisaab each year, find out what the cash value of the stated amounts of gold and silver above would be at the market rate of gold and silver and you will have the nisaab rate.

You qualify to give zakaat if you have held onto the previously stated amount for one full year and you have not fallen below this amount. This amount is similar to savings that is above and beyond the amount you use for your basic living needs. For example, in Shaban 1, 1432, a person has 90 grams in gold (or equivalent in cash) in addition to the wealth he or she uses for their basic needs. In Shaban 1, 1433, zakaat will become wajib (compulsory) on him or her provided he held onto the gold (or cash) for a full lunar year and he did not drop below nisaab.

How do I calculate my zakaat based on gold and silver?

After a person has reached nisaab, and one full year has passed (as stated in the example above), one will calculate zakaat as follows:

  1. On the day that zakaat is due, count the nisaab amount and add any other cash/gold/silver that was gained during the year and note the total.
  2. Subtract any immediate bills that are past due.
  3. Subtract any loans that are owed (because loans are deductible except for those stated in the question on qualifying loans below)
  4. Pay 2.5% of the resulting number in zakaat.

What should I count in my wealth?

  • Cash, gold, silver, gold and silver cutlery, jewellery, stocks (market value), bonds, 401K, cash that you have given someone as a trust.
  • Livestock (nisaab on livestock has a different criteria than gold and silver and if there is a need to answer questions on this, please reply to this post)
  • Crops (to be discussed if needed)
  • Trading goods (zakaat on trading goods also have some scenarios that can be discussed separately if requested)

Do I pay zakaat on personal jewelery? If so, how do I calculate jewellery mixed with precious stones?

The Hanafi scholar considers personal jewellery (not used for trade) zakaatable. For jewellery that is predominantly (equal or more than half in its weight in) gold or silver compared to precious stones, one considers the entire weight of the jewellery as gold or silver only. If more than half of the jewellery is other than gold or silver, then one estimates whether or not nisaab is reached.

Am I responsible for calculating zakaat on jewellery I have received from my parents?

You are considered the owner of this jewellery, therefore zakaat is calculated on it and it is upon you, and not your husband to pay for any zakaat on it. If a husband allows you to wear jewellery that he has purchased but has not made you the owner, he is responsible for calculating and paying any zakaat on it, unless, of course, he makes you the owner of it.

My husband pays me from my mehar each year prior to when my zakaat is due so that I can pay zakaat on my jewellery and/or other assets. Is it permissible to pay zakaat from this or do I need to sell my jewellery?

This is permissible provided he gives you the amount specifically for this reason and you subtract it from your mehar. Both taking and giving in this case is permissible and there is a reward in both (fatawa rizwiyyah)

What should I not include in my wealth?

Land (for personal and non-investment use) and houses no matter how much they are worth; machinery and equipment; dishes of daily use. However if you have receive earnings from the equipment or rental income, they are to be counted as zakaatable wealth.
Note: Zakat on investment properties and investment land should be discussed with a Hanafi scholar.

Are Riba-based (Usury-based) loans deductible?

Usury based loans are deductible only if the loan was taken in need to the degree that if one did not take the loan, they would either be in the category of a ghareeb or a miskeen (see definitions in a later question). They are not deductible if you acquire a loan for something that is beyond your need. For example, you acquire a usury-based loan to purchase the latest model of a high-end car where a used, reliable lower-end car would have sufficed. If the usury based loan qualifies to be deductible under the conditions described, one subtracts any interest that has been added in the transaction. However, mortgages (in the case of the United States and Canada) are so common and if all were to deduct their mortgage, then no one will be left who would qualify to give zakaat thus violating the rights of the needy. Therefore, the scholars have said that mortgages do not qualify as deductible.

What if I were to lose all my wealth after a year has passed despite qualifying for giving zakaat prior to losing the wealth?

You are not liable to pay zakaat since you don’t have anything.  However, if you lose a portion of your wealth, zakaat is still due based on what you have left, even if that amount has fallen below nisaab.

I have loaned my wealth out to others. Do I still need to pay zakaat on that wealth?

Yes. That loan is zakaatable, but zakaat will not be due unless that person pays you back the equivalent of nisaab or 1/5th of nisaab. You should calculate the amount, nevertheless, each year to keep track of how much zakaat will be due.

Who qualifies for receiving zakaat?

Seven qualify to receive zakaat:

  • A Faqir – A person who has some wealth but not enough to reach nisaab. Or has wealth equal to nisaab but that amount is used for his basic needs. It is better to give a scholar of the religion who is not the possessor of nisaab, than to give an ignorant faqir (Alamgiri). A faqir is not permitted to ask for Zakaat.
  • A Miskeen – A person who has nothing to the poijnt that he or she is dependent on people for clothing and food (Alamgiri). A Miskeen can ask for Zakaat.
  • An Aamil – The one who has been assigned by the ruler to collect and distribute zakaat. He should be given enough so that he and his helpers receive a moderate amount to suffice them, but they should not be given more than 1/2 of what they collected (Dur-e-Mukhtaar). An Aamil is not required to be a faqir in order to receive zakaat.
  • A Riqaab – A person who is in need of freeing himself or herself from bondage.
  • A Ghaarim – A person who has so much debt that after he or she pays it off, is not left with enough to reach nisaab. Even in the case where others owe him, yet he is unable to immediately recover it. The condition for a ghaarim is that he or she should not be a Hashmi (from the family of the Prophet-sallallahu alyhe wasallam)
  • Fee Sabeelillah – This means to spend in the the path of Allah. There are a few situations of this:
    • Someone wants to go for Hajj but does not have enough to do so. They can be given zakaat, but it is not permissible for them to ask for zakaat.
    • A student of the religion who wants to study the religion or is studying. He can ask for zakaat.
    • Spending zakaat on every good deed is considered fee sabeelillah (Dur-e-Mukhtaar).
  • Ibn Sabeel – This is a traveler who does not have wealth left to travel and is in a strange land. He can receive zakaat but only so much that fulfills his travel needs, even if he is wealthy at home.

Who should not be given zakaat?

  • Your parents, grandparents
  • Your offspring – sons, daughters, grandsons, grand-daughters
  • Husband to wife and vice versa (this and previous categories are not given zakaat, they have a right over your for support, in most cases)
  • Anyone who is a possessor of nisaab in addition to enough wealth for his basic needs.
  • A rich man’s child who has not reached puberty
  • Bani Hashim (the blessed family of the Prophet-sallallahu alyhe wasallam)
  • Dhimmi Kaafir (The non-Muslim subjects in Muslim lands under the protection of the Muslims)

What is the best practice of giving zakaat?

The following list is by highest to lowest priority (Alamgiri):

  • To brothers and/or sisters
  • Nephews and/or nieces
  • Maternal uncles and/or aunts
  • Children of maternal uncles and/or aunts
  • Extended relatives
  • Neighbors
  • Local village or city dwellers

Can I send my zakaat to a different city or country from where I live?

It is offensive (makruh) to send zakaat to a different country or city unless there are in those places one of the following to whom it is sent:

  • Relatives
  • People who are in a greater need
  • More pious people
  • That it is better in the interest of the Muslims that it be sent there
  • For students of the religion
  • So as to send it before the completion of a year

In all of the cases stated above, is permissible and not offensive.


Translated from Nur ul-Idah and Hamara Islam by IECRC Staff on Shaban 27, 1432.

 IECRC encourages the Muslim community to post comments to ask your specific questions on zakaat.

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