Chapter two: Recipients of Zakat Money
3. Rules of Paying zakat
40. The proprietor is not allowed to pay the zakat prematurely, i.e.
before its due time of becoming obligatory. However, it is
permissible to pay the poor any money by way of loan; when the time
comes for paying zakat such a loan can be set off by zakat money.
That said, the mukallaf is not bound by such an arrangement for he
can pay another poor person the due amount and leaving the one who
took the loan indebted.
41. It is not permissible to delay payment of zakat money beyond its
due date, only in a force majeure. Delay without a valid reason
would render the mukallaf sinful and he would be branded as going
against the injunctions of religion (asi).
The mukallaf can approach the issue of payment in two ways:
i. The amount of zakat can stay as part of the mukallaf's main
property until it becomes feasible to pay it. This would entail:
a. Should the property sustain any damage or loss it will be
confined to the mukallaf's own property and not zakat money.
b. Should zakat money yield any return, it will be for the mukallaf
not to the potential recipient of zakat.
ii. The zakat money could be set aside until it becomes feasible to
pay it. This would entail:
a. Should zakat amount sustain any damage or loss, through no fault
of the mukallaf, nor a delay in paying, the damage should be borne
by the recipient.
b. Should zakat money yield any return, bi it sustained or
intermittent, it will be for the recipient not the mukallaf.
c. Once the amount has been set aside, it should not be tampered
with or replaced.
42. It is not obligatory to spread the amount of zakat over the
eight categories of recipients. That is, it is permissible to pay it
to any one category; so is it permissible to give it to one person
in any chosen category.
43. Although there is no minimum amount to the payment of zakat, it
is recommended, on a voluntary precaution basis, not to pay the poor
less than the equivalent of one quarter of gold Ottoman Lira. As for
the upper year's provisions, nothing more than this should be paid
lest it should turn the recipient "rich".
44. Apparently (al aqwa), it is not obligatory to pay zakat to the
fully-fledged jurist, at the time of the occultation (of the Imam),
although it is preferable as a matter of ihtiyat. However, if the
jurist explicitly made his wish to pay it to him known for he could
identify the avenues where it can be spent, his followers have to
obey such a wish. Indeed, such action should be forthcoming from
others outside his circle of following, even if his ruling fell
short of a fatwa.
45. Should the Marji' (jurist) receive zakat in his capacity as a
vicegerent, the payer is absolved of the responsibility, even if the
amount gets lost through or without fault of the jurist.
46. If zakat money becomes due in any land other than that where the
mukallaf normally resides, he is entitled to pay it in his own place
of domicile, even if there are people there who are eligible for
payment in the land where zakat arose.
The same applies if the mukallaf owes any money in places other than
his own place of domicile; he should be entitled to set off any loan
against zakat money, provided that the debtor is poor.
47. It is permissible to deduct the amount of debt from zakat money
without informing the recipient. Likewise, not informing the
recipient that what he is getting is zakat money is legitimate. What
counts at the end of the day is the niyyah that the money is being
paid as zakat.
48. It is permissible for the zakat payer to appoint an agent to pay
it on his behalf including the delivery point. i.e. to the
recipient. All what he has to do is to make niyyah or qurbah at time
of giving the amount of zakat to agent, although the niyyah should
be held until the recipient get hold of the money, as a matter of
49. It is not obligatory that the recipient himself get hold of the
money. He could receive it through an agent, not necessarily from
one source. Once the agent takes ownership of zakat, the payer is
absolved of the responsibility. That is, he will not stand to pay
again in the event of damage sustained while the zakat is still with
50. After payment of zakat is made it may transpire that the
recipient is not among those eligible for receiving zakat money at
the time of payment. Should the zakat have been set aside prior to
paying it, it is obligatory on him to retrieve it from the person it
was given to, should it still be there intact.
If the recipient has already disposed of the zakat money or it has
not originally been set aside, and provided that he had made
inquiries as to the background of the recipient and concluded that
he was entitled to receive it, he should not stand to compensate
same. It the payment was made without proper investigation, he
should stand to compensate same.
Where the payer stands to compensate the amount of zakat, he can go
back to the recipient and demand the return of the money in kind or
the equivalent thereof, provided that the recipient knew the what he
had that he is not entitled to receive such money, as for the
recipient's ignorance that the money he received was zakat money,
the payer does not have the right of retrieving the money.
The same applies when the mistake happens as to the right
description and entitlement of any of the other categories, such as
"ibinis sabil" or "al amileena alayha".
51. Should the mukallaf pay zakat in the mistaken belief that it has
become obligatory to do so, and it transpires that it has not, he is
justified in retrieving it from the recipient. If zakat has been
disposed of, and that the recipient knew that the mukallaf was not
obligated to pay it, the payer is entitled to demand repayment of
the equivalent amount. Otherwise, he is not entitled to do so.
52. The Mukallaf decided, by way of nadhr, to pay the zakat a
particular eligible person. Should he inadvertently give it to
another eligible person, this is bound to absolve him from the
responsibility of nadhr, in that he is not required to retrieve it,
even zakat was still with him in kind.
Should the payment of zakat to other then the person originally
intended be made deliberately, it is valid. Yet, the mukallaf would
be held responsibility vis-ä-vis nadhr; he should therefore pay a
kaffarah for flouting the nadhr.
53. The proprietor allowed to transfer zakat from the place of
origin to another place for the purpose of paying it to eligible
persons there, even if there are people who are eligible to receive
it in the place of origin. However, because of the availability of
people in the country of origin, and if the transfer was not
sanctioned by the Marji', the expenses incurred as a result of the
transfer must be borne by the proprietor, i.e. from his own money.
Non-availability of eligible people in the country of origin, or the
transfer of zakat money has been agreed by the Marji' after the
proprietor took receipt of zakat on behalf of the Marji', should
make any expenses incurred as a result of the transfer deductible
from zakat money.
54. Should the amount of zakat set aside sustain a damage or loss,
wholly or in part; or the damage occurred to the entire property
before the amount was set aside, there may be a number of issues to
i. Should the loss be sustained through negligence or wrongdoing,
the person who caused the loss should be made to pay for the loss,
be he the proprietor or someone else. If the proprietor was the
culprit, the ruling stands, regardless of any reason that may be put
forward, such as whether he was justified in delaying the payment of
ii. The proprietor could have delayed the zakat without a valid
reason while the eligible person was available in the country of
origin. Should the property be lost due to natural causes, i.e. not
man made, such as fire or flood, or it may have lost due to human
error, the proprietor should stand to guarantee payment of zakat,
the reason being that delaying payment, while it was within his
capacity to make the payment, is deemed negligence on his part
vis-à-vis the Shari'i right.
Should the property be lost through wantonness by a second party
through no fault of the proprietor, the responsibility of paying the
amount of zakat fall squarely on the shoulders of the aggressor. If
the guilty party admits liability and takes the initiative to pay
the zakat, then be. If not, the Marji' may make him pay damages.
Should the guilty party evade payment, or the Marji' had gone back
to the proprietor to pay, the latter should settle the payment form
his own pocket. That said, the proprietor is free to seek redress,
in any way he deems fit, for the damage.
iii. The property may get lost without negligence, be it on the part
of the proprietor or any other party. It could be that the
proprietor was not at fault for delaying payment of zakat. Should
the loss be sustained by the entire property, or part thereof, prior
to setting aside the amount of zakat on it, the proprietor should be
held responsible to pay. If the loss is sustained by the mount of
zakat, after it has been set aside, he should not be held
responsible to pay damages.
55. Zakat money may sustain damage en-route. If there were eligible
people among the recipients of zakat in the country of origin, and
the transfer of zakat was undertaken without having recourse to the
Marji' (jurist), the proprietor should stand to pay damages. That
is, irrespective of whether or not he was at fault.
Should there not be people among the recipients of zakat available
in the country of origin, or the proprietor took possession of zakat
money by way or proxy on behalf of the Marji' and transferred it
with his permission, he should not be held responsible to indemnify
it, except if the was negligent.
56. It is mustahab on the part of the recipient of, be he the
jurist, his agent, or the eligible person themselves, to pray for
the proprietor. However, as a matter or voluntary precaution, the
jurist who acquires zakat money, by virtue of being the vicegerent (wilayah),
should do likewise.
57. Preferential treatment with regard to the recipient of zakat is
recommended as an optional act of worship (mustahab). That is, the
virtuous could be given more of a share, the close relatives over
others, those who do not ask for it over those who do. Payment of
zakat on livestock in particular is preferably paid to those
recipients who show forbearance (ahlil tajamul).
These preferentials are only guides; there may, however, be other
ones which are more important.
58. It is abominable (makrouh) for the proprietor to seek to acquire
that which he set aside in obligatory and voluntary sadaqah.
However, if the recipient was willing to sell back what he received
in zakat, after it has been assessed, the proprietor has preference,
without compulsion, over others in buying it.
There should be no problem too if the proprietor wanted to hold on
to his property, especially if he has come to acquire it by way of
inheritance, for example.