أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم   ----   بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


Payment of Zakaath.


Allaah has mentioned in Qur-aan about payment of Zakaath, more than 30 times. There is a wide-spread belief among Muslims that Allaah has not mentioned in Qur-aan, the quantum of Zakaath to be paid.


So our calculations for payment of Zakaath rely entirely upon hadeeth. The rules for payment of Zakaath, under hadeeth, are numerous. Therefore, in a Friday sermon, a khateeb (خطيب) spent nearly 30 minutes explaining on what property the Zakaath is to be paid, which people are liable to pay Zakaath and which people are eligible to receive it; the liability of Zakaath on jewellery, agricultural income, vehicles, rented property, etc. At the end, he said that the rules about Zakaath are so many that if he stood the whole night explaining them, the matter would not be complete.


This did not deter me from continuing my search in Qur-aan about the quantum of Zakaath to be paid. I was not satisfied with the basic rule that we need to pay Zakaath to the extent of 1/40th of our assets that exceed our needs, that too in excess of the value of a specified weight of gold/silver and that too after a year has passed on the amount.


First of all, we cannot define what an individual’s need is. Each person has his own standard of living. One man’s luxury is another man’s necessity.

One man suffers losses in his business year after year and still has to pay Zakaath on his goods-in-trade that he owns and on receivable amounts (which he may or may not receive), etc.

Another man earns a handsome salary, but expends everything and keeps nothing in savings; so he stands exempted from paying any Zakaath.

Natural justice is missing from this system because it has deviated from our Creator’s scheme.  So it is filled with imbalances, inequities and illogicalities,


One day, while reading the following verse of Qur-aan, I felt the necessity to check all the meanings of the word غنمتم (ghanimtum) which occurs in the verse.

The generally understood meaning of the word غنمتم - 'ghanimtum' is : ‘spoils of war which you take’.

So, the normal translation of the verse goes like this:

“And know that whatever you take as spoils of war, indeed a fifth thereof is for Allaah, and for the messenger and for the kinsman and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, if you believe in Allaah and that which We revealed unto Our slave on the Day of Discrimination, the day when the two armies met. And Allaah is able to do all things.”


After studying of the dictionaries of Arabic-to-Arabic and Arabic-to-English, I have come to the conclusion that the Arabic word غنم (ghanama) has the following meanings:  


1. gain (obtain, win or benefit, profit from something or from doing something)

2. loot (rob or steal goods, especially from shops or homes that have been damaged in war / riot)

3. win (acquire or secure as a result of an effort; be victorious in; reach by effort.)

Besides, it also means the animal ‘sheep’, which does not relate to our study.


If the word has the only meaning: ‘spoils of war’, as our elders interpret, then how do we reconcile with the usage of that word in the following verse of Qur-aan:

“O you who believe! When you go forth in the way of Allaah, be careful

to discriminate, and say not unto one who greets you Salaam (peace) : "You are not a

believer," seeking the profits of this life (so that you may despoil him). With

Allaah are plenteous profits. Even thus (as he now is) were you before; but Allaah has

since then been gracious unto you. Therefore take care to discriminate. Allaah is ever

Informed of what you do.”  (4:94)


In the above verse, we find the phrase: “With Allaah are plenteous profits.” Now we cannot imagine substituting the word ‘profits’ , either with ‘spoils of war’ ,‘loot’ or ‘win’, in the foregoing sentence, to say: “With Allaah are plenteous ‘spoils of war’ or ‘loot’ or ‘win’ ”  This I am giving as a proof to show that ‘profit’ is also an important meaning of the words غنم , غنيمة ,مغانم    (ghanama, ghaneemah, maghaanima) apart from ‘spoils of war’, and therefore, the stipulation to spend one-fifth on the specified expenditures applies to all our earnings as well as the spoils of war.


Our current practice, based upon the teaching of our elders that a full year must pass on an asset before we become liable to pay Zakaath on it, is also invalid. We incur the liability to pay a fifth of our income, on the day we earn it, as can be seen from the following verse, which relates to agricultural produce.




“It is He Who produces gardens trellised and untrellised, and the date-palm,

and crops of divers flavour, and the olive and the pomegranate, like and unlike. Eat you

of the fruit thereof when it fruits, and pay the due thereof upon the harvest day, and

be not prodigal. Lo! Allaah loves not the prodigals.”

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