I am a poor, penniless man and the father of two disabled children. Righteous people gave me from the wealth of Allaah such as Zakaah and charity. Now, I own a Nisaab on which one full lunar year has lapsed. Is Zakaah due on me?
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and messenger.
The majority of scholars hold that Zakah is due on wealth. The condition by which Zakah becomes due is to own a Nisaab on which one lunar year has passed. Therefore, whenever a Muslim owns a Nisaab of a kind of wealth on which one full lunar year lapses, Zakah 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 Nisaab is required to pay Zakah on it even if he is poor. They also say that being entitled to receive Zakah does not prevent it being due on a person. They set a difference between the limit of wealth that makes Zakah due and that which prevents one from taking it. According to Maalik, Ash-Shaafi‘i and Ahmad the limit of wealth that makes Zakah due on someone is owning the Nisaab. In relation to this, Ibn Qudaamah said: "The fourth condition: Richness, based on the statement of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to Mu‘aath ibn Jabal "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 Zakah 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 Nisaab that is free from debt."
The limit of wealth that prevents one from taking Zakah is owning what is sufficient for fulfilling one's needs, whether it has reached the Nisaab or not. Al-Khattaabi said about this, "Maalik and Ash-Shaafi‘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-Shaafi‘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, may be 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 Nisaab is not permitted to receive Zakah because, by owning it, he is considered rich. However, the preponderant opinion is that held by the majority of scholars. Therefore, you should know that you have to pay Zakah on your money as long as it has reached a Nisaab and a full lunar year has lapsed on it. This also does not cancel the permissibility of taking from the Zakah money if you are entitled to receive it under the Sharee‘ah.
Allaah Knows best.
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