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Article: Zakat and Khums as Two Obligatory Alms in Islam

Economic issues have always been of the main concerns of human beings and have had an important role in their lives. Governments study various effective ways to secure people’s basic needs, and religious figures and institutions have always considered one of their main duties to assist the poor.

By the same token and due to its comprehensiveness, Islamic law has paid serious attention to the details of economic issues. Anfal, khums, zakat, transactions, partnership, lease, and hypothecation are among the financial affairs that have been discussed in Islamic jurisprudence. While those contracts and transactions that have the required conditions and are beneficial to the individual or the society are regarded as lawful, gaining money through harmful ways, such as usury, bribery, and gambling, is considered as forbidden and illegitimate.

Among the most important chapters of Islamic jurisprudence that has its root in the holy Qur’an and Islamic narrations are the ones on khums and zakat. The goal of this article is to review various aspects of these two religious financial obligations.

Zakat literally means “purity, growth, blessing, and eulogy” (Ibn Manzur 1414AH, 14:358), and zakat of the property means its purification (Ibn ‘Abbad 1414 AH, 6:300). In Islamic teachings, zakat is defined as “the title of a financial right in the property that becomes obligatory when the property reaches a taxable limit” (Hilli 1407 AH, 2:485). As a condition, in the case of cow, sheep, goat, camel, gold, and silver, the person has to own them for eleven months and pay the zakat at the end of the twelfth month.

Khums literally means one-fifth of something and technically is “a financial right, principally for Banu Hashim (the clan of the Prophet), instead of zakat that is for the rest of people” (Milani 1395 AH, 7).

Basically, a year after starting a business or any other type of financial activity, one has to calculate all the costs incurred in the process of conducting the business and also all his personal expenses—that is, expenditure on food, drink, clothes, housing, furniture, transportation, medical treatment, and so forth—within his normal lifestyle. Then he has to pay 20% of the remaining income as khums.

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Bibliographic Information

Title: Zakat and Khums as Two Obligatory Alms in Islam

Author(s): Sayyid Mohammad Reza Mohaddes

Published in: Spiritual Quest, Summer and Autumn 2015, Vol. 5, No. 2

 Language: English

Length: 10 page

Zakat and Khums as Two Obligatory Alms in Islam

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