I have two questions regarding Zaka’h:
I have searched your site for information about Nisaab of Zaka’h. But I didn’t find any. Can you please tell us about Nisaab of Zaka’h and how it is calculated? Currently, in my country, a charity organization is collecting money for helping Palestinians.
Can Zaka’h be paid for such purpose or is it better to give a separate donation for this cause?
Answers to your questions follow:
Nisaab implies the amount of wealth, production or heads of herd, which is exempt from Zaka’h. Zaka’h shall only be levied upon wealth, production and heads of herd, if they are in excess of the amount stipulated as Nisaab. The Nisaab for Zaka’h is as follows:
612 grams of silver or equivalent in value, in case of wealth;
1,119 kilograms of average quality dates or equivalent in value, in case of production; and
5 camels, 30 cows or 40 goats or equivalent in value, in case of heads of herd.
It may, however, be mentioned that the directive of the Prophet (pbuh) with regard to the Nisaab is, generally, worded in such a way that it restricts the state from levying Zaka’h on a person whose wealth, production or heads are below the stipulated limit. Nevertheless, it does not prohibit the state from increasing the Nisaab. Thus, if a Muslim state considers increasing the Nisaab to be in the benefit of the collectivity, it may do so. As a further extension of the same principle, a Muslim state may exempt a particular kind of wealth, production and animals from Zaka’h.
- While living in a Muslim state, which has levied Zaka’h on its citizens, a Muslim should pay his share of Zaka’h to the state treasury. The distribution of Zaka’h in such a situation would be the responsibility and at the discretion of the Muslim state1 and as a result, individual donations to private schemes (as the one you have mentioned) will have to be made from any charity, which is over and above the amount payable as Zaka’h.
However, as is the situation in most of the contemporary Muslim states, if the Muslim state is not charging Zaka’h from its citizens, then an individual may spend Zaka’h on any of the heads stipulated in the Qur’an2.
Keeping the above explanation in perspective, if you feel that the particular purpose, which you have mentioned, falls within the heads stipulated in the Qur’an then you may make donations for this purpose from your Zaka’h fund. On the other hand, if you feel that the stipulated cause does not fall in any of the categories given in the Qur’an, then it would be advisable that donations to such a cause be made from donations other than Zaka’h.
I hope this helps.
October 28, 2000
- This discretion would, obviously, be within the scope outlined by the Qur’an. [↩]
According to the Qur’an (Al-Taubah 9: 60), Zaka’h may be spent on the following:
for the poor and the needy;
for the people appointed for the collection and distribution of Zaka’h;
to win the loyalties of those who have the potential of becoming a threat for the Islamic state;
for freeing of slaves, bondsman and those under a financial burden due to any reason;
for all projects undertaken for the well being, promotion and security of Islam and the collectivity of Muslims;
for projects undertaken for the welfare and benefit of the wayfarers. [↩]