Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Zakat - 108 - Part 2 of 5


It is recommended that the imam / ruler of the land dispatch a zakat worker to collect zakat funds from those obliged to pay, to make this easier for them. Such an agent must be an upright Muslim who knows the rulings of zakat, and is not of the Hashimi or Muttalibi clans of Quraysh.

The Eight Categories of Recipients

It is obligatory to distribute one's zakat among eight categories of recipients - meaning that zakat goes to none besides them, one-eighth of the zakat to each category:

1. The Poor

The first category is the poor, meaning someone who:

(a) does not have enough to suffice himself; such as not having any wealth at all, or having some, but he is unable to earn any wealth, and what he has is insufficient to sustain him to the end of his probable life expectancy if it were distributed over the probable amount of remaining time. Insufficient here means - it is less than half of what he needs. If he requires ten dirhams a day for example, but the amount he has when divided by the time left in his probable life expectancy is four dirhams a day or less, not paying for his food, clothing, housing, and whatever he cannot do without, to a degree suitable to someone of his standing without extravagance or penury, then he is poor - all of which applies as well to the needs of those he must support. A mechanic's tools or a scholar's books are not sold or considered part of his money, since he needs them to earn a living.

(b) and is either:

(i) unable to earn his living by work suitable to him; such as a noble profession befitting him, given his health and social position; as opposed to work unbefitting him, which is considered the same as not having any. If such an individual were an important personage unaccustomed to earning a living by physical labour, he would be considered "poor". This also includes being able to find work suitable for one, but not finding someone to employ for that particular work; or

(2) is able to earn his living, but to do so would keep him too busy to engage in attaining knowledge of Sacred Law. If one is able to earn a living at work befitting him except that he is engaged in attaining knowledge of some subject in Sacred Law such that turning to earning a living would prevent the acquisition of this knowledge, then it is permissible for him to take zakat because the attainment of knowledge is a communal obligation; though zakat is not lawful for someone able to earn a living who cannot acquire knowledge, even if he lives at a school.

The three positions concerning someone engaged in attaining religious knowledge are:

(1) that he deserves charity even when able to earn a living;
(2) that he does not deserve it at all; and
(3) that if he is an outstanding student who can be expected to develop a good comprehension of the Sacred Law and benefit the Muslims thereby, then he deserves charity, but if not, then he does not.

But if one's religious devotions are what keeps one too busy to earn a living, one is not considered poor.

Someone separated from his money by at least 81 km/50 mi is eligible for zakat. It must be noted here that this was in the past. In our day it is fitter to say that he must be far from his money in terms of common acknowledgement. Such a person's absent property is as if non-existent, and his "poverty" continues until the money is present. Likewise, someone owed money on a debt not yet due who does not have any other money is given zakat when it is distributed to suffice him until the debt becomes due.

People whose needs are met by the expenditures of those who are obliged to support them such as their husbands or families are not given zakat for poverty; though it is permissible for a third party to give zakat to such a dependent by virtue of the dependent's belonging to some category other than the poor or those short of money, such as when a person belongs to a category such as - travellers needing money, or those whose hearts are to be reconciled.


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