I am a poor, penniless man and the father of two disabled children. Righteous people gave me from the wealth of Allah such as Zakat and charity. Now, I own a Nisab on which one full lunar year (haul) has lapsed. Is Zakat due on me?
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and messenger.
The majority of scholars hold that Zakat is due on wealth. The condition by which Zakat becomes due is to own a Nisab on which one lunar year (haul) has passed. Therefore, whenever a Muslim owns a Nisab of a kind of wealth on which one full lunar year lapses, Zakat becomes due on him whether he is rich or poor. Hanafi jurists, however, excluded the wealth that is saved for one’s basic needs such as food, drink, clothes and so on as they said: “No Zakah is due on it”.
The majority of scholars hold a different view from that of the Hanafi scholars as they hold that whoever owns a Nisab is required to pay Zakat on it even if he is poor. They also say that being entitled to receive Zakat does not prevent it from being due on a person. They set a difference between the limit of wealth that makes Zakat due and that which prevents one from taking it.
According to Malik, Ash-Shafi‘i, and Ahmad (may Allah have mercy upon them), the limit of wealth that makes Zakat due on someone is owning the Nisab. In relation to this, Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy upon him) said: “The fourth condition: Richness, based on the statement of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to Mu‘aath ibn Jabal may Allaah be pleased with him, ‘Inform them that they have to pay an obligatory charity that is taken from their rich to be given to their poor.’ [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]. This is also because Zakat is obligatory so as to be a source of assistance to the poor. Hence, there should be a considerable limit of wealth so as to achieve such assistance. The considerable limit of wealth in such a condition is to own a Nisab that is free from debt.”
The limit of wealth that prevents one from taking Zakat is owning what is sufficient for fulfilling one’s needs, whether it has reached the Nisab or not. Al-Khattaabi (may Allaah have mercy upon him) said about this, “Malik and Ash-Shafi‘i said: “There is no specified limit for wealth, but what counts is the financial capability of a person. So, if a person owns what suffices his needs, it is unlawful for him to take charity and, if he becomes in need, then it is lawful for him to take it.” Ash-Shafi‘i said: “A man who can earn his living may be rich by having only one dirham while another, who is too weak to earn his living and has many dependents to provide for, maybe poor despite having 1000 dirhams.”
On the other hand, Hanafi scholars hold that the same criterion should apply in both cases. This means that one who owns the Nisab is not permitted to receive Zakat because, by owning it, he is considered rich. However, the preponderant opinion is held by the majority of scholars. Therefore, you should know that you have to pay Zakat on your money as long as it has reached a Nisab and a full lunar year has lapsed on it. This also does not cancel the permissibility of taking from the Zakat money if you are entitled to receive it under the Shari‘ah.
Allah Knows best.
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