Question: What things are given as zakat?
Most Muslims do not know what things can be given as zakat. Instead of the things to be given as zakat, it is permissible to give their equivalent in value, too. Their equivalent in value refers to gold and silver, not any other goods, cheques, commercial papers, cash, or foreign currency because the value of goods is determined with gold and silver. (Kashf-i Rumuz-i Ghurar)
If the value of copper coins termed fulus reaches nisab, it is necessary to give one-fortieth of silver equivalent of those fulus as their zakat. (Miftah-us-Sa’ada)
Zakat of copper coins is not given from copper coins of the same kind. It must be given in silver. Imam-i Abu Yusuf said “It is haram for the Caliph to take currency other than gold and silver from land owners as their ushr and zakat. Though these are officially marked coins accepted by everyone, they are not gold, but copper coins.” [Radd-ul-Mukhtar]
Zakat is not given with currency other than gold or silver. Zakat is given from gold or silver or from goods one trades in. Hadrat Imam-i Nasafi says: "If a rich person buys food and feeds a poor one, the former is not considered to have given zakat." (Zahira)
A male camel is not given as zakat. A she-camel must be given as zakat of male camels. If one does not have a she camel, one must give its equivalent in gold or silver. Not any other thing can be given. (Hindiyya)
Instead of gold and silver, it is valid to give its equivalent in uruz as zakat. (Maraqi al-Falah)
Trade goods are termed uruz. Trader of clothes must give as zakat either uruz (that is, clothes they trade in) or its equivalent in gold or silver. (Tahtawi)
Gold and silver are counted as trade goods whatever purpose they are kept for. Zakat must be given if they reach nisab.
Today, rentals are highly important for the poor. Despite this, a rich person is not considered to have paid zakat if he or she permits a poor person to live in his/her house for free and counts the rents as his/her zakat.
Question: Is it permissible for a rich person not to take rents from his/her poor tenant and to count it as his/her zakat?
If a rich person lets a poor person live in his/her house for free and counts the rental as his/her zakat, it will not be valid because it is necessary to give gold or zakatable assets to the poor.
Question: Since bronze coins made from copper alloy resemble gold coins in color and shape and are used instead of gold coins, is it not permissible to give zakat with them? Does a proxy not represent the agent? Similarly, since coins made from silver alloy resemble silver, is it not permissible to give zakat with them?
Zakat is not given with either of them because giving zakat is an act of worship. It must be given in the form of gold or silver. An act of worship cannot be changed; that is, in order for it to be an act of worship, it must be done in exactly the same way as prescribed by Islam. A person’s proxy can done for him/her only the things that Islam permits. However, his/her proxy cannot perform salats for him/her. It is not permissible for a sinner to call out adhan in a pure and decent manner because his adhan is not valid as he commits sins. Similarly, it is not permissible to call out adhan by using a loudspeaker as it is used to broadcast sinful songs and musical instruments, for acts of worship cannot be changed. It is not pemissible to have musical instruments at home even if one does not play them at all.
Things to note when giving zakat:
1. When giving zakat, what is important in gold, such as bracelets and rings, is weight, not craftsmanship. For example, gold coins, such as Reþat, Cumhuriyet, and Aziz (they are used in Turkey) are 7.2 grams. All one’s gold more than 12 carats must be weighed, and one-fortieth of it must be given as zakat. For one who has gold with varying carats, it is better to give zakat by the highest carat of them. It is permissible to give zakat by the middle carat of them, and it is makruh to give zakat by the lowest carat.
2. Zakatable assets are calculated based on the goldsmith’s purchase price of gold coins that have the lowest value.
3. If a woman has bracelets exceeding nisab, it is she, not her husband, who must give zakat. If she arranges for her husband or someone else to give her zakat by proxy, her proxy can give her zakat even with his own money.
4. Receivables from inheritance or non-muajjal mahr (deferred mahr) are included in the calculation of nisab, but it is not necessary to give zakat of them. If it reaches nisab when one takes possession of them, one must give zakat only for that year, unlike the case with other receivables.
5. Zakat is given after it has become fard (obligatory) on a person. When one has reached nisab, one should write down that lunar date and must give zakat on that date every year. One does not have to wait for Ramadan to come in order to give zakat. Similarly, there is nothing wrong with giving zakat before due-date; it is better. One is even permitted to give zakat of the next few years in advance. If one calculates one's zakat wrongly and gives two gold coins instead of one gold coin before due-date, one can deduct a gold coin from the zakat of the following year.
6. If one’s nisab comes to zero during the year, one must designate a new date when one reaches nisab again. After the passage of one lunar year over that date, one must give zakat if one still possesses nisab then. When one’s nisab comes to zero, one does not have to designate a new date until one reaches nisab again. Suppose that one’s nisab has not come to zero but one has, say, 50 grams of gold. If one has money that reaches nisab when 50 grams of gold is added to it at the end of the year, one must give zakat. That is, fluctuations during the year are of no consequence, unless one’s nisab comes to zero.
7. A second zakat or ushr is not given on agricultural produce on which ushr has already been given, even if it remains in one’s possession for 40 years. However, it becomes zakatable asset if it is turned into trade goods or if it is sold and turned into cash or gold. In this case, it will be necessary to pay zakat on it when one’s zakat due-date comes. Goods in the form of gold and silver and paper money are zakatable assets no matter in what way one gets them.
8. Rents that have already fallen due are deducted from the nisab of zakat as one's debts. Rents of upcoming months are not deducted.
9. Loans that are paid in long terms, say in 25 or 30 years, by installments are deducted from nisab as one’s debts.
10. If the amount of gold is less than half in an alloy, then the calculation of zakat is made based on value rather than weight.
11. If those animals that graze in the fields free of charge for more than half of the year are intended for breeding or for milk, they are termed saima animals. If their number reaches nisab, zakat must be paid on them. If they are intended for wool, for burden, or for transportation, then they are not termed saima, and zakat is not necessary. If they do not graze in the fields free of charge but are kept at home, zakat is not paid even if they are intended for breeding, meat, or milk. Zakat is not paid on animals that are raised for ploughing, carrying loads, or riding.
Question: Can a doctor count the fee he will receive from a poor person as his zakat? Or can a rich person count the money he will receive from a poor person as his zakat?
No, neither of them can count it as zakat. The same ruling applies to all sectors of service, such as lawyers, brokers, lorry drivers, engineers. For example, a lawyer cannot count as zakat the money he will receive from his poor client. Besides, it is not permissible for traders to give zakat from goods they do not buy and sell or from paper money. Zakat is carried out by giving either goods one buys and sells or gold to a poor person. One cannot count as zakat a service one does to a poor person e.g., helping the poor person move furniture or other things.