Paying zakah on gold for past years
Fatwa No: 334378

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. I want to pay zakah on my gold because I just learned that it is a major sin to not do so. My husband, however, does not allow me to give it because his salary is too low to pay it. and he does not allow me to sell the gold for zakah. Can I sell my gold without his knowledge? All the gold is still with me. Please advise, I want to be a good practicing Muslim.

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.

There is no doubt that zakah is one of the pillars of Islam, and withholding or delaying it after it becomes due is one of the grave sins. Ibn Hajar  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his book Az-Zawaajir, "Grave sins nos. 127 and 128: withholding zakah and delaying it beyond its prescribed time when it becomes due for no valid excuse..."

However, if your gold jewelry is for personal use and is worn and used as adornment, then, according to the view of the majority of scholars, it is not subject to zakah. It is more prudent, though, to pay zakah on it to be on the safe side in terms of clearing yourself of your liability from the obligation of zakah, as we have explained in fataawa 82925 and 83665.

If the gold is kept for a purpose other than adornment (as an investment, for instance), then it is liable for zakah, and it is impermissible for you to delay it.

Based on the second case, and after Allaah has blessed you with repentance, it is incumbent on you to hasten to pay the due zakah. You need to calculate the zakah on the gold by knowing its weight in each year. If it reaches 85 grams of pure gold or more, then you have to pay zakah on it at a rate of one-quarter of one-tenth (2.5 %).

For every 100 grams of gold, you pay 2.5 grams. The basic principle is that you should pay the zakah in kind; i.e. you pay it in gold. If you wish to pay it in money, then you should estimate its value at the market price when zakah became due and then pay 2.5 % of all the value of the gold in your possession.

If you cannot calculate the due zakah on the gold for the past years with certainty, then you should make an estimate of its value and pay what you believe would most likely clear you of your liability regarding the obligation of zakah; indeed, Allaah, The Exalted, does not burden a soul beyond what it can bear, nor does He charge a person beyond his ability to endure.

The Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fataawa reads:

"If the person delays the payment of zakah after it has become due without a valid Sharee'ah-acceptable excuse, then he bears a sin for this delay given the religious texts in the Quran and Sunnah stating that zakah must immediately be paid when it becomes due and must not be delayed beyond its fixed time. When a person on whom zakah has become obligatory delays paying it beyond its due time, he is still obliged to pay it, even if it has been delayed for many years. He must pay zakah for all the past years in which he did not pay the obligatory zakah. He should estimate the wealth liable for zakah in these past years if he harbored doubts about it and pay what he believes would most likely clear him of his liability regarding the obligation of zakah; Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {So, fear Allaah as much as you are able.} [Quran 64:16]..." [Excerpted with slight modifications]

It is impermissible for you to obey your husband in withholding the zakah; verily, there should be no obedience to the created being if it involves disobedience to the Creator. We ask Allaah, The Almighty, to bless you with success and steadfastness on the straight path.

Allaah knows best.

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