Paying zakah on money loaned to others
Fatwa No: 298111

Question

My dad gave me money to use when I get married. However, my brother took all of it as a debt. He did not anything back to me yet, but he will later. Dad gave me another amount of money after this, but I spent some of it. My question is about zakah. Last year, I paid it on all the money, even what I do not have. This year, I do not have enough money to pay. In addition, I need to return the amount that I spent so that I have it when my dad asks me about it or wishes to take it back. My salary is not enough, and I need time first to return the part that I spent, and then I need time to collect money for the zakah. What should I do ? I also have gold, my dad bought it for me, and I wear it on occasions. I paid zakkah on it once in my life, but I really do not have enough money to pay it every year. My dad does not believe in zakah. And if he knows about this, he will be angry with me. I pay it from my own salary. Thank you very much. May Allaah reward you.

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 ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

There are three possible scenarios for the money that your brother borrowed from you:

Firstly, the debt repayment is due and your brother is able to repay it and is not procrastinating in repaying it. In this case, it is incumbent on you to pay zakah on the money that you lent to your brother. The fact that you do not have that money in your possession at the very moment does not exempt you from the obligation of paying zakah on it. You could sell some of the gold that you own and pay the due zakah for your whole wealth including this loan; if the money available is not adequate to pay the zakah therefrom, then the remainder is to be considered a debt to which you shall be liable and that you must pay off in the future.

Secondly, the repayment of the debt is due but your brother is insolvent or procrastinates in repaying it, in both cases, you are not required to pay zakah on that money (that you lent to your brother) unless after the repayment of the debt. According to the opinion of the majority of the scholars, when the debt is repaid, you are obliged to pay zakah on that money for all the years during which it was with your brother. Imaam Maalik  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him on the other hand, held that the person is only obliged to pay zakah on the loan money for one year only after the repayment. This view is held as the preponderant one by the well-versed scholar Ibn ʻUthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him. Abu Haneefah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him held the opinion that you should not pay zakah for that money upon receiving the debt repayment; rather, one lunar year after that.

Thirdly, the repayment of the debt is not yet due. In this case, the same ruling of the second case applies. The Kuwaiti Encyclopedia of Fiqh reads:

The Hanbalis maintained that the deferred debt is the same as the debt to which an insolvent debtor is liable because the creditor cannot get his money back right away. In this case, the creditor should pay the zakah on that loan money upon the repayment for all the past years it has been with the debtor. This is the preponderant view of the Shaafiʻis as well. The outweighed view of the Shaafiʻis suggests that the creditor should pay zakah after the passage of one lunar year even before the debt repayment.

If your wealth has reached the nisaab (minimum zakatable amount of property), then you are obliged to pay zakah on it after one hawl (lunar year passes by). If you had borrowed money from your father, as understood from the question, then you should deduct the value of this debt from the money in your possession and pay zakah on the residue property as long as it reaches the due nisaab. If you have other surplus properties beyond your essential needs, such as extra gold items or the like, then you should pay zakah on all the wealth that you own without deducting the loan and render this surplus sum paid for the due zakah on the debt.

As for the gold items and jewelry for personal use, according to the majority of the scholars, they are not liable to zakah. Some jurists, however, held that such jewelry is subject to zakah, which is more prudent and cautious. Please refer to fataawa 87362 and 82925.

If you mean that your father does not follow the scholarly view suggesting that jewelry is subject to zakah, then there is no problem with that; he has nothing to do with your jewelry; you are its owner. If you adopt the scholarly view that jewelry is liable to zakah or follow a reliable scholar adopting this view, then it is incumbent on you to pay zakah on the jewelry even if your father does not approve it.

However, if you mean that you father does not believe in the obligation of zakah in the first place, then you should know that this constitutes an act of kufr (major disbelief), may Allaah safeguard us, for he has denied one of the pillars of Islam. In this case, you are obliged to advise him in this regard and remind him of Allaah, The Exalted.

Allaah knows best.

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