When The Payment of Zakat is Due
The prompt payment of Zakat is compulsory when the means are available, and it is not permissible to postpone its payment except in cases of necessity e.g. if the money is in a country that is far away, or the person is serving in a jail term etc.
Evidence for the prompt payment of Zakat is in Quran (which mean): “…but pay the due thereof on the day of its harvest” (Al-An’am: 141), “…and give Zakat” (An-Nur: 56); (a Qur’anic order), as an order necessitates prompt compliance.
Ruling Concerning Advanced Payment of Zakat
It is permissible to pay Zakat up to two years in advance if the Nisab is complete at the time of advancing the payment.
Where Zakat Should be Paid
Although it is preferred to pay Zakat to the people of the country wherein the property lies, it is also permissible to transfer Zakat from its country of origin to another country, which is either near or far from the country where the property is located, for any specific reason, for example if the other country is experiencing extreme poverty, or if the payer of Zakat has relatives there who are poor (to the same extent as those in his own country). Indeed, paying Zakat to one’s relations who are in need is beneficial, i.e. it is charity (sadaqah) and also it strengthens the bond of kinship.
The opinion of the permissibility of transferring Zakat is correct, due to the statement of Allah Almighty: “As-Sadaqat (Zakat) are only for the Fuqara’(poor), and Al-Masakeen (the needy)” (At-Taubah: 60), i.e. the poor and the needy are everywhere.
That Which is Taken for Zakat and That Which is Not
Zakat is taken from the average of the wealth, not from its best nor from its worst. It is, therefore, not obligatory for one paying his Zakat to give the healthiest of his cattle, the pregnant one or the billy goat. Nor does he have to give the finest of his fruits; unless it so pleases him and he is satisfied with that.
But he may not give the bad instead of the good, unless all his wealth is bad or all his cattle were sick, in that case, he may pay his Zakat from that.
Allah Almighty says: “…and do not aim at that which is bad to spend from it, (though) you would not accept it save if you close your eyes and tolerate therein.” (Al- Baqarah: 267).
1-The Zakat payer must investigate to see who are eligible to receive Zakat. It should not be only an annual habit, just giving it to anyone even if the people do not deserve it. The Prophet said: “But no rich man or one who is strong and able to earn has a share of it.” [Source: Abu Dawud]
2-The Zakat payer must strive to find those who rightfully deserve the Zakat and are most in need of it. The more a person shows the characteristics of rightfully deserving Zakat, the more he should receive it; such as a poor relative or a poor seeker of knowledge, and so on.
Those Who Deserve Zakat Most
It is important for the payer of Zakat to investigate to see who are most deserving of Zakat and who are in dire need of it. The more characteristics of eligibility one find in an individual, the more deserving he is of Zakat, e.g. a poor relative or a poor student of knowledge and so on, in this manner.
Important Facts About Zakat
Monetization of Zakat:
The basic way to pay Zakat is to pay it from what it is mandated on, but it is permissible to monetize it when a compelling need for this arises.
Relationship of State / Country with Zakat:
The norm is that Zakat on properties is to be monitored by the authorities and not left to the payers’ discretion. If the authorities, however, neglect this duty, the responsibility would then lie on every Muslim.
Investing the Zakat money to benefit the recipients:
It is permissible to invest Zakat money in beneficial projects whose benefits go to the people entitled to it when an immediate need requiring its prompt distribution is not found.
Is There Any Other Right Apart from Zakat e.g. Tax to Be Paid on a Property?
- Zakat is a calculated periodic right payable from a property and it is an individual obligation upon everybody that has the capacity to pay it.
- On one’s property, there are other rights apart from Zakat, which is characterised by being contingent and are not calculated according to any known formula as Zakat is. They are also not as constant as Zakat and do not become obligatory due to the presence of money; rather, they become obligatory due to some contingent reasons, and the ownership of money is a condition for it being obligatory. Examples include spending on one’s parents, relatives, wife, and in the prevention of any harm in times of disaster when the public treasury cannot take care of it.
- Levies/taxes do not spare one from Zakat, even if they are equitable. Zakat is a form of worship, while the tax is a civic duty and one does not replace the other.