Should A Wife Pay Her Own Zakat?
In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (pbuh) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.
One of the important pillars of Islam is Zakat, which is sometimes referred to as al-shadaqa al-wajiba (obligatory alms). Zakat and shadaqa are not only terms for financial sacrifice, but are endeavours which have been rightly declared as a means of gaining the pleasure of Allah, Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, and for attaining proximity to the Holy Prophet (pbuh).
Is the husband responsible for the wife’s zakat?
Zakat is obligated in Shari`ah on certain items, assets and income. These include gold and silver, jewelry (with a few conditions), money, trade inventory, livestock, and agricultural products. According to the Shari’ah, the person who possesses the required threshold which makes zakat obligatory must give a specific amount of his wealth to those who are eligible to receive zakat, according to their specific condition, so that their needs are fulfilled. This applies to women and married women (wife). They are obliged to pay zakat if they are included in these conditions.
Some conditions must be fulfilled in order for zakat to be compulsory (fardh) upon an individual:
- One should be a Muslim: zakat is not compulsory upon non-Muslims.
- One should be mature (above the age of puberty).
- One should be mentally sound: zakat is not compulsory on those who are insane.
- One should be free (not a slave or in bondage).
- One should have complete ownership of the wealth: the wealth can only be subject to zakah if it is in the complete ownership of the individual. For example: If the woman is trading gold. One’s wealth should exceed that which is required to fulfil the basic necessities of life.
- One should be free of debt. For example, if someone has 5000 Saudi Riyal saving, but has a debt of 5000 Saudi Riyal, she is not liable to pay the zakat, so long as the savings do not exceed the debt.
- Zakat is payable on that wealth or property which grows either materially, such as trade goods or free-grazing livestock, or in value, such as gold or silver.
- The total value of the wealth and property should be above the threshold determined by the Shari’ah.
- The person must have been above the zakat threshold for a whole lunar year. One does not pay the zakat as soon as one reaches the threshold; rather a whole lunar year has to pass before one pays the zakat on the condition that one still above the threshold one year later.
Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri writes in his ground-breaking book, The Islamic Philosophy of Human Life:
“The sole purpose and goal of human life is to attain the pleasure of Allah (SWT). For this a struggle begins for the purification of one’s soul (tazkiyya al-nafs), which is attained by adopting the practice of ihsan (spiritual excellence). However, the only practical means of attaining ihsan is to spend one’s wealth (in the way of Allah). Without this, nothing of ihsan remains and no other path becomes available in attaining this essential goal (of Allah’s pleasure).”
If a wife is not working, she doesn’t have wealth to save for investment, she is dependent on her husband, so she doesn’t pay Zakat.
Zakat al-Fitr is obligatory on each Muslim, male or female, young or adult. It is in the amount of the value of two meals that are most common in the area where you live. It must be paid by every Muslim and can be paid by the head of the household for all adults in the household. The head of the household is obliged to pay it on behalf of his or her minors. In this zakat, a husband can pay for his wife. Zakat-al Fitr is due on the last day of Ramadan. It can be paid earlier, but it must not be delayed after the `Eid prayer on the morning of the `Eid.
Almost all women like to have jewellery for wearing, keeping or sometimes selling. So, should she pay zakat?
There is disagreement over whether women’s gold or silver jewelry need to be paid for zakat. Abu Hanifah and Ibn Hazm said that zakat is compulsory on gold and silver jewelry provided they constitute a nisab. Their statement is based on the report of ‘Amr ibn Shu’aib from his father and from his grandfather: “Two women with gold bracelets on their wrists came to the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘Do you want Allah to make you wear bracelets of fire on the Day of Judgment?’ They answered: ‘No.’ He said: ‘Then pay the zakat which is due on what you wear on your wrists.’ “
Imam Malik, Imam ash-Shaf’i, and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said that there is no zakat on women’s jewelry regardless of its value. Al-Baihaqi relates that Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah was once asked if jewelry was subject to zakah. He replied that it was not, even if its value exceeded one thousand dinars.
Al-Baihaqi also narrates the case of Asma’: “Asma’ bint Abu Bakr used to adorn her daughters with gold. Although its value was around fifty thousand dinars, she did not pay zakat on it.”
Scholars agree that no zakat has to be paid on gold, silver, diamonds, pearls, sapphires, rubies, corals, chrysolite, or any kind of precious stones unless they are used for trade. The jewelry for personal use has no zakat unless it is not more than the usual amount that a woman is wearing; otherwise, there should be zakat since it is categorized as collections, trading and savings.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked: Is zakaah due on gold that is prepared for adornment, if a woman does not have any means of paying zakaah other than selling some of the gold?
The correct scholarly view and the most likely to be correct in my view is that zakaah must be paid on jewellery if it reaches the nisaab (minimum threshold), which is eighty-five grams (85 gram). If it reaches this amount, zakaah must be paid on it. If she has other wealth and pays from that, there is nothing wrong with it. If her husband or one of her relatives pays it on her behalf, there is nothing wrong with that. If neither of these options is available to her, then she should sell some of it and pay zakaah with that money. (From Fataawa Islamiyyah, 2/85)
Zakat entails giving 2.5% of total savings in a lunar year and if it reaches nisaab (85 grams).
If the husband has given the jewellery to his wife simply for safekeeping, so that he can sell or dispose of it the way he wants, then in that case the zakat will not be due upon the wife, as it will be the husband’s responsibility. However, if the wife owns the jewellery and the discretion is hers to either wear or sell them, then she will be responsible to pay the zakah.
Whatever is written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah’s Assistance and Guidance, and whatever is of error is of me alone. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.