Rafed English

Shiah and Zakat (Taxation)

We may consider salat and sawm as two acts of worship (ibadat) whose immediate basis is physical rather than spiritual. Zakat is of an entirely different nature. According to the Shi'as, after salat in rank comes "zakat" (taxation); indeed from some of the traditions of the holy Imams (a.s.) it is understood that if somebody does not give "zakat" his salat also is invalid. Like all other Muslims the Imamiyah consider "zakat" compulsory on nine things: Animals -camels, cows, goats; Grains -wheat, barley, dates, raising; Money -gold, silver coins.

Besides these, zakat on other things, such as all kinds of merchandise, horses and crops is desirable. The precise conditions and regulations can be found in the appropriate books of jurisprudence. It is interesting to note that all the rules are in basic conformity with those of the "fiqh" of the four Sunni schools of thought, Hanafi, Shafi'i, Maliki and Hanbali. Among those entitled to receive zakat are the poor and the needy, according to God the Almighty's command in surah at-Tawbah: innama 's-sadiqatu li 'l-fuqara' wa 'l-masakin.

Zakatu 'l-fitrah (poor-tax on the day or 'idu 'l-fitr) is compulsory for every adult and sane person who can financially support himself and his wife and children and other members of the household depended on him. Its quantity is one "sa" (approximately 3 kilos) of wheat, barley, or dates on behalf of every individual.The nature of zakat is basically the same, whether from the point of Shi'a or Sunni fiqh.

Adopted from the book: "The Origin of the Shi'ite Islam and its Principles (Asl ash-Shi'ah wa Usuluh" by: "Allamah Kashiful Ghita"

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