Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Zakat - 108 - Part 3 of 5


2. Those Short of Money

The second category is people short of money - meaning someone who has something to spend for his needs but it is not enough, as when he needs five dirhams, but he only has three or four. The considerations applicable to the poor person also apply to someone short of money: namely, that he is given zakat if he cannot earn a living by work befitting him, or if he can earn a living but attainment of knowledge of Sacred Law prevents him from doing so; though if he is able to earn a living but extra devotions prevent him from doing so, then he may not take zakat.

How Much The Poor Are Given

A person who is poor or short of money is given as much as needed of tools and materials if he has a trade, such as the tools of a carpenter with which he can earn a living, or property with which a merchant can engage in trade - each according to the demands of his profession. This amount varies depending on whether e.g. he is a jeweller, a clothier, a grocer, etc.

If the recipient is unable to do any work, whether for wages, by trading, or other, then he is given enough zakat to fulfill his needs from the present till the end of his probable life expectancy based on the average lifespan for someone like him in that locality. Another ruling in this regards and based on situation and the consensus of the scholars at that time and place is that such a person is given enough for just one year.

These measures are obligatory when abundant zakat funds are available, whether the imam /ruler's representative distributes them or a property owner. But if there is not much zakat available - meaning if the funds are too little to last a poor person for his probable life expectancy or for even one year, it is distributed as it is - to an eighth of each category.

3. Zakat Workers

The third category consists of zakat workers, and this refers to the abovementioned agents dispatched by the imam/ruler of the land. These would include: the person collecting it, the clerk recording what the owners give, the person who matches the payees to recipients, and the one who distributes it to the recipients.

The zakat workers receive an eighth of the total available zakat funds. If this amount is more than what it would cost to hire someone to do their job - then they return the excess for distribution to the other categories of recipients. However, if the zakat funds amount is less than the cost of hiring someone, then enough is taken from the zakat funds to make up the difference. All of this applies only if the imam / ruler of the land is distributing the zakat and has not alloted a fee to the zakat workers from the Muslim common fund i.e. the Baitulmal. If the property owner is distributing the zakat or if the imam / ruler of the land has alloted the workers a fee from the common fund then the zakat funds are divided solely among the other categories of recipients.

Those Whose Hearts Are To Be Reconciled

The fourth category is those whose hearts are to be reconciled. If they are non-Muslims, they are not given zakat, but if Muslims, then they may be given it so that their certainty may increase, or if they are recent converts to Islam and are alienated from their kin.

Those to be reconciled include:

(a) the chief personages of a people with weak Islamic intentions whose Islam may be expected to improve, or whose peers may be expected to enter Islam; or

(b) the heads of a people who collect zakat for us from Muslims living near them who refuse to pay it, or who fight an enemy for us at considerable expense and trouble to themselves.

5. Those Purchasing Their Freedom

The fifth category is slaves who are purchasing their freedom from their owners. They are given enough to do so if they do not have the means. In this day and age, such situation are not observed.

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