ZAKAH (CHARITY TAX)
Zakah is one of the fundamental pillars of the religion, and one of its greatest obligations, as Allah has often paired it with the prayer.
Zakah is of two types: the zakah of wealth, and the zakah of fitrah.
The Zakah of Wealth
Ruling 333:This is obligatory in respect to the following items: gold, silver, camels, cows, goats and sheep, wheat, barley, dates and raisins.
Ruling 334: It is obligatory only if the following conditions in the owner are all fulfilled:
(1) Adulthood – as defined by the Sharia;
(3) Ownership of the mentioned items;
(4) Religious permissibility in disposing of the items;
(5) Physical ability to dispose of them, e.g. they are not lost, stolen or the like.
For the zakah on some of the items to be obligatory, it will be mentioned below that the passing of a year is required, in which case these aforementioned conditions must be fulfilled for throughout the year. And where the passing of the year is not stipulated, the aforementioned conditions must be fulfilled after the taxable limit is reached, as will be explained.
The Zakah of Gold and Silver
Ruling 335: There are three further conditions in respect to the zakah obligation on gold and silver:
(1) Zakah is due only when the prescribed taxable limits are reached. In gold, the taxable limit is 20 dinars, and the amount due for it is half a dinar; then one-tenth of a dinar is due on every subsequent 4 dinars. In silver, the taxable limit is 200 dirhams, and the amount due for it is 5 dirhams; then a dirham is due on every subsequent 40 dirhams.
(2) The gold and silver must be coined as tender and used in transactions. If they cease to be used as tender in transactions, zakah is no longer obligatory on them.
(3) The passing of a lunar year, and it is sufficient in establishing the obligation of zakahwith the arrival of the twelfth month.
The Zakah of Cattle (Camels, Cows, Sheep and Goats)
Ruling 336: Apart from the general five conditions mentioned above for the obligation of zakah on the cattles, it is also necessary that a year passes, and that they graze by themselves, i.e. they are not fed, and that they are not used for work and labor, and that they reach the taxable limits, which are mentioned in more detailed books of Islamic Law.
The Zakah of Crops (Wheat, Barley, Dates and Raisins)
Ruling 337: Apart from the general conditions mentioned above for the obligation of zakah on the said crops, they should also reach the taxable limit, which is approximately 1,044.25 kilograms. Once these conditions are fulfilled, the prescribed zakah is 10% of the total quantity if they were watered naturally, e.g. by rain, river or moisture naturally present in the earth. If they were watered by artificial irrigation, such as by buckets and irrigation equipment, then the due zakah is 5% of the total quantity. If both natural and artificial watering means are used, then 7.5% is due.
There are further rulings which are mentioned in the more detailed treaties of Islamic laws.
The Categories of the Beneficiaries
The beneficiaries of the zakah are of eight categories:
(1) The poor.
(2) The destitute.
(3) The collectors of zakah on behalf of the Imam (peace be upon him) or his specifically appointed deputy.
(4) Muslims whose faith is weak but their hearts are inclined towards religion on receiving such charity.
(5) For the freeing of slaves.
(6) An indebted person who is unable to repay his debt.
(7) In the way of Allah.
(8) To a stranded traveler
Ruling 338: The beneficiary must be a believer (i.e. a Shia Ithna-Ashari), and as an obligatory precaution a non-believer should not be given from the portion of the fourth category. Also, the beneficiary should not be a drinker of alcohol, and as an obligatory precaution he shouldn’t be a committer of major sins which are worse than drinking alcohol, like the abandoning of prayer. If the payer of zakah is non-Hashimite (a descendant of Hashim), the beneficiary cannot be a Hashimite.
Ruling 339: It is not obligatory to pay one’s zakah for all the categories; rather, it is sufficient to pay it all to one person from one of the categories. However, one should not pay the poor person more than his yearly expenses.
Ruling 340: It is obligatory to hasten in paying the zakah, and it is not permissible to delay it except with a reasonable cause, and as an obligatory precaution it should then be separated and earmarked.
Ruling 341: It is permissible to pay the value of the taxed items in money instead.
Ruling 342: It is permissible to transport the zakah from one’s town to another, even if there are beneficiaries available in the former. However, in such a situation if any part of the zakah is lost in the transportation, he will be liable for it.
Ruling 343: Zakah is amongst the worships which require intention; as an obligatory precaution, the intention should accompany both the separation of zakah, and also the payment of it to the beneficiary.
The Zakah of Fitrah
This is also amongst the obligatory zakah, and with it the fasting of the month of Ramadhan is completed. It is narrated that whoever does not pay it, he should apprehend death in the following year.
The Conditions of Its Obligation
Ruling 344: The following conditions apply in establishing the zakah of fitrah as obligatory:
(1) One should be an adult, as defined by the Sharia.
(2) One should be sane.
(3) One should actually or potentially have sufficient funds for his yearly expenses.
The Time of Its Payment
Ruling 345:It becomes obligatory for all those who have fulfilled the above-mentioned conditions at the time of sunset in the night of Eid-ul-Fitr. Its payment becomes due on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, from the time of Fajr – the break of dawn – until noon time, as an obligatory precaution, but its best to pay it before one performs the Eid prayer for those who offer it.
Ruling 346: If noon has passed and one has still not paid it, he must hasten to pay it before sunset as an obligatory precaution. If one still hasn’t paid it before sunset, then he will remain liable until he pays it, however long it may be. If he dies it will be necessary to pay it on his behalf.
Ruling 347: It is permissible to pay it in advance during the month of Ramadhan.