The Conditions Required for The Validity of Zakat (Shafii)


What are the conditions required for the validity of zakat?

  1. Intention: It is obligatory to make intention by heart when reserving a property to be given as zakat and when giving it as zakat. It is a Sunnah to express the intention by tongue. Zakat should be distinguished from other payments of redemption and charities. The owner of wealth should make his intention as “this is my zakat” when giving it to the recipient of zakat.[1] If the owner of property deputizes someone as his representative to distribute his zakat, it will be enough for him to make his intention when giving the property to his representative to be distributed as his zakat. It is not necessary for the deputy to make another intention when distributing the zakat. However, it is recommended for the deputy to make an intention.
  2. Tamlik: Tamlik means to transfer the exclusive ownership of zakat property or money to the recipient of zakat.

If a rich person in whose house a poor person lives as a tenant tells his tenant that he (the poor) does not have to pay rent and he (the rich) will regard the rent as his zakat, it will not be accepted as his zakat. Because there is no transfer of ownership to the poor. In like manner, by preparing food and inviting needy people to eat it, is not accepted as payment of zakat. However, if he hands over the food to the needy people, his zakat will be paid.

If one buys some clothes, food items, cleaning supplies, etc. needed by the poor and gives it to the poor with the intention of zakat, or fix the poor person’s house, it will be accepted as his zakat.

It is clearly stated in the Qur’an to whom zakat can be given. Zakat must be given to people who are eligible to receive it. One who is responsible to pay zakat have to investigate and make sure that his zakat is given to one of the eight categories of recipients mentioned in the Qur’an. It is not possible to give zakat to any other recipients because the eight categories of recipients are specifically mentioned in the Qur’an.. If zakat is given to a person who is assumed to be poor, but later appears to be rich, it will not be valid as zakat according to the majority of scholars.

Taxes paid to the state are not accepted as zakat. One cannot give his zakat for the construction or renovation of buildings such as mosques, bridges, schools, dams, or roads. It is not permissible to buy shroud for the dead or host the guests by zakat money.

If zakat property is destroyed after zakat becomes obligatory, the owner of property will not be relieved from the responsibility of zakat payment. If one reserves parts of his wealth with the intention of zakat payment, but if the amount he reserved gets destroyed before its delivery to the poor, the owner of wealth is responsible. No matter if he is able or not to pay it again, his responsibility to pay zakat continues.

[1] Al-Nawawi, al-Majmu, 6/158-159

Source: Fiqh1 (According To The Shafi’i School Of Islamic Law), Erkam Publications

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