What are the conditions for zakat to be fard? What is the zakat in islam? When the zakat becomes obligatory on a person? What is the nisab for zakat 2023?
For a person to be liable for the payment of zakāt, the following conditions must be met:
1) Being a Competent Believer (Mukallaf)
According to the Ḥanafis, the person who is required to pay zakāt must be a Muslim, free, sane, and adolescent. Zakāt is not obligatory upon non-Muslims, slaves, the mentally ill, and children.
A non-Muslim is not obligated to pay zakāt because zakāt is a cleansing act of worship. A non-Muslim is not qualified to carry out this worship nor be cleansed. Even for a Muslim who leaves Islam for a while and then returns back to Islam, zakāt will not be required for the period of apostasy, and the debts of zakāt for the period before the apostasy will also be removed. This is because being a Muslim is a condition for zakāt to be obligatory, as well as for its continuation.
However, according to the Shafiʿis, the apostasy of a person does not eliminate his previous zakāt debts.
According to the Ḥanafis, it is necessary to be sane and reach puberty for zakāt to be obligatory. This is because the mentally ill and children are not obliged to perform the acts of worship such as ritual prayer and fasting, nor are they obliged to pay zakāt, because zakāt is an act of worship. Responsibility in acts of worship begins after reaching puberty and the age of discernment.
According to the imams of other schools other than the Ḥanafis, it is not necessary to have reached puberty and be sane for zakāt to be obligatory. Therefore, it is obligatory to pay zakāt out of the property of the child and the mentally ill. The zakāt is paid on their behalf of them by their parents or guardians. The evidence they rely on is the following hadith, “A person who is the guardian of an orphan who has property should employ this property for trade so that zakāt does not consume it by leaving it.” According to these jurists, zakāt is an obligation related to the property, not the person, and it becomes necessary to pay it without seeking the qualifications of the owner of the property, as is the case with providing the kinship sustenance.
According to the Ḥanafis, if the mental illness of the person has been going on since his or her childhood, they are not liable for the payment of zakāt. But if they recover after puberty, they will be liable for zakāt starting from the date of recovery. If the mental illness that occurs after puberty lasts longer than a year, the responsibility of the payment of zakāt for that year is removed. For during this period, they are not obliged to fulfill religious orders. However, if they get well sometime in that year, for example, for a day or two, zakāt is required on them. This view belongs to Imam Muhammad. According to Abu Yusuf, zakāt is not required for that year unless he is healed for more than half of the year.
Fainting and blackouts are not considered obstacles to the requirement of zakāt for it is not usual for such situations to last long.
When the minors reach the age of puberty, their property is not given to them immediately and it is researched whether they have reached maturity or not, that is, whether they can manage their property properly. The following is stated in the verse, “Make trial of orphans until they reach the age of marriage; if then ye find sound judgment in them, release their property to them.” According to Abu Ḥanīfa, in principle financial guardianship stops when children reach puberty, but as a precaution, property may not be handed over to an orphan until the age of 25 at the latest.
According to the majority of jurists, financial custody continues regardless of age, until an orphan shows the signs of maturity. Therefore, the age of maturity may occur at different ages depending on the conditions of education, culture, and social environment. In this regard, nations have chosen to set a standard age of maturity for convenience in practice. As a matter of fact, with a sultan’s edict dated 1299 H., the Ottoman Empire made the age of maturity twenty years old. Accordingly, the believer will be under the financial care of the guardian between the age of puberty and the age of maturity. There is no difference of opinion among the schools that the zakāt of this period should be given by the guardian. There is no doubt that the hadith we mentioned above covers this period as well. In today’s Turkish practice, the age of maturity for boys and girls is the same and it is when they become eighteen years old.
On the other hand, there is a consensus among schools that children and mentally ill people are responsible for the zakāt of land products called “ushr”.
2) Owning at least the nisab amount of wealth
In order to become responsible for the payment of zakāt, it is necessary to have at least niṣāb amount of wealth apart from basic needs and debts. Zakāt is not obligatory for a person who does not have that much wealth.
Niṣāb literally means “measure, limit, sign, original”. In Islamic legal terminology, it refers to a certain amount determined as a measure for zakāt to be required. It expresses the amount of wealth that requires the payment of zakāt.
The niṣāb amounts, which are considered the minimum limits for being liable for zakāt, were determined by the Prophet (saw) for each type of property subject to zakāt. These minimum amounts not only showed the average standard of living and wealth of the Islamic society at that time but they have also been preserved under the title of “niṣāb amounts of zakāt” in the following periods. According to this, jurists are in agreement that niṣāb is a must for all goods subject to zakāt, except for the products of the land.
The niṣāb amounts determined in the hadiths according to the types of goods are as follows: The niṣāb of gold is twenty mithqāl, the niṣāb of silver is two hundred dirhams, the niṣāb of sheep and goat is forty, the niṣāb of cattle and water buffalo is thirty, and the niṣāb of a camel is five. Apart from Abu Ḥanīfah, according to the majority, five wasqs (approximately 653 kg., according to the people of Kufa 1 ton) from agricultural products are accepted as niṣāb. Zakāt is not required for goods that do not reach this amount. Niṣāb amounts express the wealth limit for those who own these kinds of goods. Shah Waliyyullah Dahlawī (d. 1176/1762) states that the niṣāb amounts of zakāt are equivalent to one-year living expenses of the elementary family consisting of a husband, wife, child, and servant during the Prophet’s time.
Today, there is a significant difference in value between the types of goods, whose niṣāb amounts are noted above. Considering that these were the average annual expenditure amounts of an elementary family in the time of the Prophet, it would be appropriate for today to determine a new niṣāb amount based on the minimum annual expenditures of the smallest family consisting of a husband, wife, and children.
Fundamental needs: The basic needs that are excluded from the calculations of zakāt amount are as follows: It consists of the house where the zakāt payer resides, the necessary goods for this house, winter and summer clothes, the necessary weapons, tools, books, mounts and servants, one month’s (an annual according to another sound view) necessities or family expenses. Cash equivalents for debts owed are also subject to the same provision.
Islamic scholars have understood the verse “…spend what is more” in the Qur’an as “spend what is more than the basic needs of yourself and your family members out of the wealth you have earned”. The Prophet also explained that zakāt should be given from the excess the wealth.
Accordingly, we can summarize the essential needs in the following items:
a) Houses used as residences, vineyards, gardens, and agricultural lands.
b) Cars, service vehicles, tractors, water engines, or work tools of artisans, machines, tools, benches, factories, etc. used for production. They are subject to zakāt based on their income, not their value. The Prophet said: “There is no zakāt on a Muslim for his horse or slave.”
c) Clothing and household goods in accordance with the custom. Carpets, rugs, furniture, dinnerware which is not gold or silver, refrigerators, washing machines, and all other electrical appliances.
d) Personal libraries of scholars.
e) One month’s (one year according to another sound view) customary expenses of one’s own and dependent family members.
f) Gold, silver, cash, and trade goods that do not reach the amount of niṣāb, and cash and goods held against the debts owed.
Ibn al-Humām (d. 861/1457) summarized them as follows: There is no zakāt for a house to live in, clothes to be worn, household goods, animals to ride, and weapons used.
3) The property should be an nami (growing, increasing) property:
For a property to be subject to zakāt, it must have the quality of “namā”. Namā, which literally means “increase, multiply and develop,” is divided into two a term:
a) Real reproduction: The increase of a good by trade, birth, or agriculture is “real reproduction”. Therefore, just as the goods and animals kept for commercial purposes are subject to zakāt, so are the animals called sāima which are grazed in the fields to get their offspring and milk.
b) Legal reproduction: It means the possibility and potential of an increase in the property itself. Gold, silver, and cash have this quality. They meet the needs by being used in commerce, by being an instrument in the exchange of goods, so they are naturally suitable for reproduction, growth, and trade. As a result of this, gold and silver cash, ingots, and ornaments, whether they have been intended to be used in a trade or even if they are saved for purposes such as payment of the sustenance or to buy a house, are subject to zakāt when they reach the niṣāb
The scholars’ books or craftsmen’s tools are not fundamentally growing and increasing goods. Therefore, they are not subject to zakāt by their values.
It is not necessary to pay zakāt on property that has been lost and then found years later for there is no growth and increase in them. Goods that are lost at sea and found years later and goods that were usurped are subject to the same provision. The fact that zakāt is not obligatory in these and similar situations mentioned is based on the following hadith, “There is no need for zakāt on ḍimār wealth.” Ḍimār goods refer to the property that is not expected to be returned or found even though its ownership continues. Since it is not possible to benefit from them, zakāt is not required from them.
4) Full Ownership of the Property
In addition to owning the property out of which zakāt will be paid, it is also necessary to have the possession (dhilyad) of this property. Possession (dhilyad) means that the property is actually in the possession of the owner or is under his control and disposal.
Accordingly, zakāt is not required from the goods under possession without ownership or owned without possession. For example, a woman who will receive dowry (maḥr) from her husband is not obliged to pay zakāt unless she actually receives it. For even though she is the owner of the dowry (maḥr), it is not yet in her possession.
In like manner, zakāt is not required on the pledged property while it is in the hands of the taker of the pledge because it is taken against a debt. It is not in the possession of the property owner. A person who is in debt is not obliged to pay zakāt out of the property that he has in the amount of his debt, because even if he has possession of this property, it is not legally under his ownership.
Goods that have been purchased but have not yet been delivered need to be added to the calculation of the niṣāb amount of zakāt. According to the sound view, it is necessary to pay zakāt out of them as well. Being a traveler is not an obstacle to the payment of zakāt because the person who goes on a journey, although he does not have control of his property, can dispose of his property through a proxy. Therefore, he is liable for the payment of zakāt.
Property that does not have a definite owner is not subject to zakāt. The goods offered for the benefit of the society and the goods obtained from the zakāt, tax and other revenues of the state are not subject to zakāt, either, because they do not have a specific owner. These goods belong to the whole society, including the poor.
It is not necessary to give zakāt on the goods that cannot be used anymore although the original ownership continues. We mentioned above that such goods are called ḍimār. For example, lost animals lost property, property lost at sea, property that the state confiscated by force, the goods that were denied due to lack of documents, but later evidenced through confession in front of people after one year, are not subject to zakāt.
According to the Shafiʿis, the Malikis and the Ḥanbalis, the condition sought for the goods to be subject to the payment of zakāt is to have the original ownership and to have the power of disposition. The Malikis, unlike the Ḥanafis, deem the payment of zakāt necessary on an endowed property if the owner undertakes the trusteeship of the endowed property. This is because, according to them, an endowment of a property does not remove it from ownership.
According to the Shafiʿis, if the borrowed property remains in the hands of the borrower for more than one year, he has to pay its zakāt.
5) Passage of a Year over the Ownership of the Goods
Just as in fasting and pilgrimage, the lunar calendar is applied in the case of the payment of zakāt. For zakāt to be obligatory, one lunar year must pass over the niṣāb amount of goods. This is called “ḥawalān al-ḥawl”. The evidence is the following hadith, “It is not necessary to give zakāt on a property unless a lunar year has passed.”
According to Abu Ḥanīfa, goods are divided into two types in terms of the requirement of the passage of a year: a) Cash, gold, silver, and trade goods and animals that are raised on the pasture for more than half of the year (sāima). b) Agricultural products, mines, and treasures. As for the zakāt of the goods of the former type, it is obligatory that a period of one year elapses after owning the niṣāb amounts of goods. For the products of the land and mines, the passage of a year is not required. This is because many types of crops can be harvested in a few months and more than one crop per year can be obtained from some soils. In such cases, waiting for the end of the year would be to the detriment of the poor.
Ibn Qudamah (d. 620/1223) explains the difference between goods for which the passage of a year is required and the ones for which the passage of a year is not required as follows: The goods that are subject to the condition of passage of a year are the goods that are kept and stored for their development. An animal is kept for milk, wool, calving, or fattening. Cash and merchandise are stored for profit. It is stipulated that one year is required to pass over these because these are the goods that increase and reproduction is expected and it is intended that zakāt will come out of their profit. Moreover, this is easier and ensures that the goods do not run out and that the aid to the poor continues. As for the produce of the land and fruits, they are products in development. When their zakāt is paid, they will have completed their development. After that, it no longer grows and develops, but rather starts to decrease.” Such as drying and rotting of ripened fruits and vegetables if they are kept waiting.
On the other hand, it is for the producers to exclude the produce of the land, fruits, and minerals from the condition of the passage of the year. When the conditions for agricultural products are fulfilled, zakāt is paid at the rate of one-tenth (ushr) or one-twentieth in irrigated fields. In mines, the zakāt of the operator is one-fifth. However, those who buy agricultural products or mines and keep them for commercial purposes give their zakāt just like other commercial goods. In other words, if they exceed the niṣāb amount and if one year passes, they will be subject to zakāt in the ratio of one-fortieth.
According to Abu Ḥanīfa, the provisions of the tithe are applied to the products of lands such as wheat, barley, rice, millet, watermelon, eggplant, clover, tea, and sugar cane, which are grown by the human being on tithe land, without seeking a niṣāb amount and passage of a year. In other words, one-tenth of what comes out of the soil or one-twentieth of irrigated land is required to be given as zakāt.
According to Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad, a tithe is not required for cereals that do not reach approximately 653 kg and for perishable fruits and vegetables that do not remain in the hands of the people for a year.
According to the Ḥanafis, in regards to the passage of a year over the goods subject to zakāt, the amount of niṣāb must exist both at the beginning and at the end of the year. The decrease in this amount during the year does not affect the requirement for the passage of one year. On the other hand, property that increases during the year is subject to zakāt along with other properties at the end of the year.
For example, if a person has three hundred grams of gold in excess of his essential needs on the first day of Ramadan, if the amount of this gold falls down to fifty grams or increases to four hundred grams in the middle of the year, if he has two hundred grams of gold on the first day of Ramadan a year later, he has to pay five grams of gold as zakāt. If it falls below eighty grams at the end of the year according to the shar’i measure, zakāt is not required because there is no niṣāb amount at the end of the year. However, if the person also has silver, cash, foreign currency, or trade goods to complete the missing amount of the niṣāb, all of them together will be subject to zakāt in the ratio of one-fortieth.
If there are sixty grams of gold at the beginning of the year, if this amount increases to two hundred grams at the end of the year, or if it is two hundred grams at the beginning of the year and falls to sixty grams at the end of the year, zakāt is not required. Zakāt is required if the same amount or more is found at the end of a year, which may start from the day it reaches the amount of eighty grams.
According to Imam Zufar, the amount of niṣāb must be in hand throughout the year from its beginning until its end.
According to the Shafiʿis and the Ḥanbalis, the amount of niṣāb must be present throughout the year. If a property subject to zakāt falls below the niṣāb amount during the year, zakāt is not required for it. If he later owns the property exceeding the niṣāb amount, the condition of passage of the year starts again. However, the offspring of animals born during the year and the profit of trade goods are considered subject to zakāt by adding them to the original (capital) property.
If a property subject to zakāt increases after the passage of a year, it will not be subject to zakāt until one year passes starting from the day it exceeds the niṣāb amount. For example, if a person has niṣāb amount of wealth on the first day of Ramadan and has three hundred grams of gold or trade goods of this value at the end of a year, seven and a half grams of gold is required to be paid as zakāt. If the amount of gold increases to four hundred grams two days after this, the passage of a new year will begin for the increased amount.
6) The Wealth Should Be in Excess to the Debts Owed
As a result of the conditions of “to be under full ownership” and “to be in excess of the basic needs” sought in the goods subject to zakāt, the property subject to zakāt should not be in return for debt-owed. The majority of jurists are in agreement that debt will be effective in the zakāt of money, gold, silver, and trade goods which are called “hidden goods”. There is a difference of opinion on whether debts-owed will be an obstacle to the obligation of zakāt in agricultural products, animals, and mines, which are called “exposed goods”, that is, whether the debt will be deducted from the property in the calculation of the niṣāb amount.
Debts that can be requested by their creditors prevent zakāt from being obligatory. The debt may have arisen from the purchase of deferred goods, or it may have occurred due to borrowing money or being a guarantor for someone else. Regardless of the reason for the debt, if it is demandable by people, one may deduct these debts first from his or her wealth. Zakāt debts that remained from the previous years are also of this nature. If there is no property left after these debts are deducted, there is no obligation of zakāt. However, debts such as vows, atonements, and pilgrimage, which are not claimed by people, do not prevent zakāt from being obligatory.
For example, if a person has thirty mithqāl of gold, in addition to his essential needs, and he owes twelve mithqāl, since the amount after the deduction of the debt is less than the niṣāb of gold (20 mithqāl or 80 gr.), zakāt is not required.
Debts belonging to people must be paid first, or cash or trade goods must be set aside for their payment. Islam emphasized the debt owed to other people a lot, the Messenger of Allah (saw) took refuge in Allah from debt in his prayers and did not want to lead the funeral prayer of some of the Companions who died without paying their debts. Uthmān (ra) said during his caliphate, “This month is the month when your zakāt will be paid. Whoever has debts to pay should pay, then pay the zakāt of your goods.” Uthmān (ra) said these words in front of a community of Companions, and no one objected to his practice.
The existence of debt does not prevent the implementation of the tithe over the agricultural products and the land tax.
According to the Ḥanbalis, debt is an obstacle to zakāt on all kinds of goods subject to zakāt, including agricultural products. That is if debts and sustenance are deducted first, and then the remaining wealth is more than the niṣāb amount, zakāt is paid on this property. If the deduction of debt covers the whole niṣāb amount or decreases it below the niṣāb amount, it becomes an obstacle to the payment of zakāt.
According to Imam Malik, the debt prevents zakāt from being obligatory only on money if deducting it below the niṣāb amount, and then the zakāt is not farḍ. It is not deducted in the case of the zakāt of agricultural products, animals, and mines. This is because zakāt is farḍ from these types of wealth themselves.
According to Imam Shafiʿi’s last view, the obligation of zakāt is a debt of liability like any other debt. Accordingly, debt that covers the whole zakāt goods or decreases it below the niṣāb amount does not prevent zakāt from being obligatory. Therefore, a person who owns the niṣāb amount of wealth subject to the liability of zakāt is obliged to pay it regardless of his debts. For one of the debts does not prevent the payment of the other.
 See al-Kāsānī, ibid, II, 39 ff.; Ibn al-Humām, ibid, I, 481-486; Ibn Abidīn, ibid, II, 4 ff.; al-Maydanī, Lubāb, I, 140; Ibn Rushd (Averroes), ibid, I, 236; al-Shafiʿi, Umm, IV, 125; Ibn Qudāmah, Mughnī, II, 261 ff. Al-Tirmidhī, Zakāt, 15; Malik, Muwaṭṭā’, Zakāt, 12. This hadith is weak, and Tirmidhi and al-Bayhaqī narrated it from Amr b Shuayb through his father and grandfather. Shafiʿi and al-Bayhaqī narrated this from the Prophet as a mursal hadith, with a sound (ṣaḥīḥ) chain of transmitters, through Yusuf b. Māhik. In addition, al-Bayhaqī narrated the same hadith from Umar as mawqūf and said that its chain of transmitters is sound (ṣaḥīḥ). See al-Zaylaī, Naṣb al-Rāya, II, 331 ff. Al-Nisā, 4: 6. Ali Haydar, Durar al-Ḥukkām, III, 79 ff.; H. Döndüren, Delilleriyle Aile İlmihali, p. 511; H. Veldet Velidedeoğlu, T. Medeni Hukukunun Umumi Esasları, Istanbul 1968, II, 56. Al-Dahlawī, Hujjatullah al-Bāligha, Beirut 1990, II, 110-114, Trans. M. Erdoğan, II, 131-135; al-Qarḍāwī, ibid, II, 157. Al-Baqara, 2: 219. Al-Bukhari, Zakāt, 18. Muslim, Zakāt, 8. Ibn al-Humām, Fatḥ al-Qadīr, I, 487. Malik, Muwaṭṭā’, 18. This hadith is attributed to Ali (ra) and is gharīb. Abu Ubayd reported it from Ḥasan al-Baṣrī in Amwāl; Imam Malik narrated it from Umar b Abdilaẓīẓ. See al-Zaylaī, Naṣb al-Rāya, II, 334; Ibn Abidīn, ibid, II, 12; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 736, 737. See al-Kāsānī, ibid, II, 9; Ibn Abidīn, Radd al-Mukhtār, II, 5; al-Shirazī, Muhadhdhab, I, 141 ff.; Ibn Qudāmah, Mughnī, III, 48-53; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 741, 742. Ibn Maja, Zakāt, 5; al-Zaylaī, Naṣb al-Rāya, II, 328, 330. Al-Kāsānī, ibid, II, 51; Ibn al-Humām, ibid, I, 510; Ibn Abidīn, ibid, II. 31, 72. Ibn Qudāmah, Mughnī, Sharḥ Muhtaṣaru Khiraqi, Cairo, n.d., I, 625. Al-Kāsānī, ibid, II, 57-63. For more information, see al-Kāsānī, ibid, II, 53 ff.; Ibn al-Humām, ibid, II, 4; Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Bidāyat al-Mujtahid, I, 245; Ibn Qudāmah, ibid, II, 689; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 800 ff. For more information, see al-Kāsānī, ibid, II, 53 ff.; Ibn al-Humām, ibid, II, 4; Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Bidāyat al-Mujtahid, I, 245; Ibn Qudāmah, ibid, II, 689; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 800 ff. Muslim, Dhikr, 60; Abū Dawūd, Adab, 98, Witr, 32; al-Tirmidhī, Daʿāwāt, 19, 67; Ibn Maja, Du’a, 3, 15. Al-Nasā’ī, Janā’iz, 67; Abū Dawūd, Buyūʿ, 9; al-Darimī, Buyû’, 53. See Malik, Muwaṭṭā’, Zakāt, 17; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 748, Abū Ubayd, quoted from Amwāl. Ibn Abidīn, ibid, II, 6 ff.; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 747, 748. Al-Shirazī, Muhadhdhab, I, 142; al-Dirdir, al-Sharḥ al-Ṣaghīir bi Hashiyat al-Sāwī, Egypt n.d., I, 647 ff.; Ibn Qudāmah, ibid, III, 41 ff.; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 748, 749.
Source: Basic Islamic Principles (ilmiḥal) According to the Four Sunni Schools With Evidence From The Sources of Islamic Law, Prof. Hamdi Döndüren, Erkam Publications