Nisab is conditioned by the following:
- Nisab is the amount of wealth remaining after meeting all expenses for such vital necessities as food, clothes, housing, and a mount. Thus, one does not have to pay zakat on what he or she needs to make a living, such as tools or machines related to carpentry, farming, tailoring, or working as a doctor. All debts are subtracted from one’s wealth. If one has enough secured credit to pay off the debt, it is added to one’s wealth, and if the resultant wealth reaches the nisab, one must pay zakat.
- For many items subject to zakat (e.g., money, gold, silver, and cattle), a full year of the Islamic calendar should pass, starting from the day of the nisab’s possession. If the wealth possessed decreases during the year but is still possessed one year later, zakat must be paid. What matters is the availability of nisab at the beginning and end of the year. However, this condition does not apply to plantations and fruits, for their zakat should be paid, or at least calculated, on the harvest day and include what has been consumed before the harvest.
- In short, there are two types of zakat: one grows by itself (e.g., crops and fruits), and the other is used for growing and production (e.g., money, merchandise, and cattle). In the former case, zakat should be paid at harvest time; in the later, at the end of the year.
- The wealth subject to zakat should be actively or potentially increasing, growing, or productive. This condition will be explained below.
- One must have private, doubtless ownership or possession and the right of disposal of the wealth liable to zakat.
Intention. Since paying zakat is an act of worship, its validity depends upon one’s sincere intention to pay it for God’s sake. If one pays it without making the intention, one can still intend while the wealth expended as zakat has not yet been consumed.
Holdings Subject to Zakat and Their Nisab. Islam enjoined zakat on currencies and similar things, such as shares, bonds and checks, gold and silver, crops, fruit, livestock, merchandise, minerals, and treasure.
The Standard of Richness. Islam does not criticize earning; rather, it encourages working and earning one’s livelihood. But it does not approve of earning for luxury and a luxurious life, and urges Muslims to work, earn, and live for the other life as their goal. It encourages mutual helping in society and spending in God’s way and for the needy, and has not established a fixed standard of living. It regards having a house, a mount, two suits and other articles of clothing, and one month worth of livelihood (some say that one can keep a year of livelihood at the most) as the necessary commodities or wealth upon which one does not have to pay zakat. Bediüzzaman Said Nursi expresses a standard that can be valid for all times, as follows: While most Muslims are below the average standards of living, a Muslim cannot live a luxurious, comfortable life.
The Sunna has established approximately 90 grams of gold or about 600 grams of silver or 40 sheep or 30 heads of cattle or 5 camels as the standard. If, according to the place or the general standard of living of the people in a particular place, one has banknotes, merchandise, or other kinds of increasing income or capital whose value is equal to any of the standard values given, he or she must pay zakat. However, in establishing the nisab, the minimum amount or value, which favors the poor, is considered.
Senturk, Omer Faruk. “Charity in Islam” Tughra Books Press. January 2007
- November 03, 2013
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