Ignorance does not exempt one from paying Zakat
Fatwa No: 22615

  • Fatwa Date:22-1-2014 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 21, 1435
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Question

My mother has been the primary bread winner for our family since our early childhood. Seven years ago, she rented a shop to sell clothes in. She started the business with 700 dinars and was ignorant of the obligation of zakat at that time. Whenever the capital reached one or two-thousand dinars, she used to buy extra goods for the shop, usually before the Hawl. She, out of ignorance, thought that offering charity was sufficient. She just closed the shop last year, so what is the religious ruling on the zakat of the past years, given that my mother does not have any savings? She only has enough money to support us, so what should be done in this regard? She fears the punishment of Allaah Almighty after being informed of her need to pay zakat.

Answer

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.

If the value of the trade goods reaches the Nisaab (i.e. minimum amount of wealth liable for the payment of zakat) by themselves or after adding other kinds of wealth, then they are liable for the payment of zakat. The Nisaab of merchandise is an amount of which the value equals eighty-five grams of gold. If one's wealth reaches this value after the lapse of a full lunar year, then he is obliged to pay the due zakat, which equals 2.5% of the total sum of his wealth counted for zakat. This Muslim woman should strive to find out the exact amount of capital owned and the wealth liable for zakat at the beginning of each year, calculate and pay the zakat for all previous years. She should strive to remember the wealth liable for zakat at the beginning of the first year, pay its due zakat and then do the same with the following years. If she is currently economically strained and cannot pay them right now, then she is obliged to pay them whenever she can.

Allaah Knows best.

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