Abu Daud and Nasai ‘narrated that two men came to the Messenger of Allah while performing Hajj wida‘ when he was distributing the zakat. Both then asked for their share from the Messenger of Allah. They said, he looked at our face and observed from top to bottom. He saw us both as a strong man then told him, “if you wanted me to give you zakat I will give it, but no zakat for the rich and those who are still strong for work.”
In another narration, Abu Daud and Tirmizi narrate about Abdullah bin Amru that Rasulullah s.a.w. say zakat is not permissible to be given to the rich and those who have the power to work.
Both the above hadith had clearly shown the ban on the rich to accept zakat. The scholars agree on the ban on zakat for the rich. But there are different opinions about the level of wealth that prevent it from receiving zakat.
- The first view is based on the method of determination with scales i.e by determining the amount of certain wealth banned on them from taking zakat. For the Hanafi sect, the wealth that does not allow the wealthy to receive zakat is 100 dirhams from silver or anything like that which is not obligatory of zakat and does not include its necessities.
- Imam Ahmad believes that wealthy people who own more than 50 dirhams cannot accept zakat. Imam Ahmad explained that those who have 50 dirhams or more including jewellery are considered rich and zakat cannot be given to him.
- Imam Malik views people who do not deserve Zakat if they have 40 dirhams of silver.
This prohibition has its exception in some circumstances. There are four conditions in which the wealthy are allowed to receive zakat which is: i) the people who are given the task of collecting and dividing zakat, ii) the debtor in order to preserve the unity of the Muslims, iii) the people who strive in the way of Allah; and iv) the travelling people who are running out of supplies.
Scholars agree on the above, for example, the rich man who was amil allowed to accept zakat because of his duty as collector and zakat wealth. The rich have the right to choose to give up the excess of his property and leave part for himself. This is to prevent the defamatory defiance of what he did to damage his reward.
All sects agree zakat on zakat collectors should be though he is a rich man. Rasulullah has allocated a sum of money to zakat collectors: people who provide energy and the caliphs after that among them is indeed rich.
Scholars also agree on the debtor for the sake of the benefits of Ummah or for needs of himself (not on the object of sinfulness) and can not afford to pay it. It belongs as a group who should accept zakat for what he owes to his wealth for religious purposes. However, if his wealth is many then he is not entitled to zakat due to his wealth.
It is different from those who are indebted to reconciling the two conflicting parties by way of paying a fine or paying damages on damaged goods. The rich can accept zakat even if they are categorized as rich if they owe them for the purpose of reconciling the dispute between two parties. This is in the opinion of the great scholars of Maliki, Syafie, Hanbali and their followers.
Someone who owes the purpose of reconciling the dispute between humans. So he should accept zakat to pay the debt. Similarly, in the case of debtors to pay a penalty (diyat) for accidental killings. When his family can not afford the penalty or cannot protect his religion from the infidels (dzimmah) then he can accept zakat to pay the debt for the benefit of others regardless of his rich or poor. And this is the opinion of the great scholars.
Backup for this opinion is from one hadith. Abu Said narrated: “It is not permissible to pay zakat to the rich except for the five classes …. they are zakat workers.” This Hadith implies the acceptance of zakat for some of the wealthy, especially those who serve as zakat collectors. But this hadith is said to be inconsistent and so is its validity contrary to Muaz’s hadith which is found to be stronger.
The second opinion that rejects the acceptance of zakat of the rich has been explained by the Hanafi sect based on the hadith, “It is not permissible to receive alms for the rich”. Explained in al-Ikhtiyar, “and the debtors are poor, it is the meaning of the word of Allah (and for those who are indebted to the way of Allah)”.