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Zakāh on Gold and Silver Jewelry

By Sh. Furhan Zubairi | Dean of Seminary

Zakāh is one of the pillars of Islām. As the Prophet ﷺ told us, “Islām is built upon five: testimony that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, establishing prayer, giving zakāh, ḥajj, and fasting the month Ramadān.”[1] The obligation of paying zakāh is established through both the Qur’ān and Sunnah. Although it is a pillar of Islām and an obligation there are a lot of misunderstandings within the community regarding its rules and regulations.

One of the most common questions asked regarding zakāh, specifically by women, is “Do I have to pay zakāh on gold and silver jewelry?” The answer to this question depends on what school of thought an individual follows. This is an issue that has been disagreed upon by jurists throughout history. The purpose of this short article is simply to present the positions of the four schools of thought regarding this particular issue relating to zakāh.

Agreement

Jurists from all four schools of thought agree that if an individual possesses gold and silver jewelry that they use in an impermissible manner then it would be subject to zakāh. For example, if a man has a number of gold chains, a gold earring and a gold ring that he wears, he would have to pay zakāh on them. It is impermissible for a man to wear gold jewelry based on a number of different narrations from the Prophet ﷺ. For example, ʿAlī (ra) narrated that once the Prophet ﷺ took hold of some silk in his right hand and some gold in his left and then said: “These two are forbidden for the males of my Ummah.”[2]

Similarly, jurists from all four schools of thought agree that if an individual possesses gold and silver jewelry as a collection that they do not wear or use then it is also subject to zakāh. Meaning, they collect gold and silver jewelry as a habit or as an investment. In this scenario the jewelry will be classified as regular gold or silver that has the potential to increase in value and will be subject to zakāh.

The disagreement arises in jewelry that is worn such as, gold jewelry for women and silver rings for men.

No Zakāh

According to the Mālikīs, Shāfiʿīs and Ḥanbalīs gold and silver jewelry that is worn in not subject to zakāh. This opinion has also been narrated from illustrious companions of the Prophet ﷺ such as, ibn ʿUmar, Jābir, ʾĀ’isha, ibn ʿAbbās, Anas and Asmā’a (ra). They base this off of certain narrations from Ā’isha, ibn ʿUmar and Jābir (ra) that show that they did not use to pay zakāh on jewelry that was worn. The following three narrations should serve as a good sample:

  1. It is narrated that Ā’isha (ra) was the guardian of her nieces (brother’s daughters) who had jewelry and she would not pay zakāh on it.[3]
  2. It is narrated that ibn ʿUmar (ra) used to put gold jewelry on his daughters and female slave, but would not pay zakāh on it.[4]
  3. It is narrated that a man asked Jābir (ra) if he has to pay zakāh on jewelry and he said no.[5]

They also argue that jewelry that is worn is similar to clothes that are worn or furniture that is used in one’s house. Just as no zakāh is due upon one’s clothes and furniture, similarly, no zakāh is due on jewelry that is worn.

There is Zakāh

According to the Ḥanafīs zakāh is due on gold and silver jewelry regardless of whether it is worn or not worn. As a matter of fact they argue that zakāh is due on gold and silver in any form, whether it is coins, bars, jewelry, utensils or decorative pieces. This was the opinion of esteemed companions of the Prophet ﷺ such as, ʿUmar ibn al-Khattāb, ʿAbdullah ibn ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ and ʿAbdullah ibn Masʿūd (ra). This opinion is based primarily off of three narrations from the Prophet ﷺ:

  1. ʿAmr ibn Shuʿaib from his father from his grandfather who said: A woman came to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and she was accompanied by her daughter who wore two heavy gold bangles in her hands. He said to her, “Do you pay zakāh on them?” She said, “No.” He ﷺ then said, “Are you pleased that Allah may put two bangles of fire on your hands?” Thereupon she took them off and placed them before the Prophet ﷺ saying, “They are for Allah and His Apostle.”[6]
  2. ʿĀ’isha (ra) narrated: the Messenger of Allah ﷺ entered upon me and saw silver rings in my hand. He asked, “What is this, ʿĀ’ishah? I said, “I have made them to adorn myself for you, o Messenger of Allah ﷺ.” He asked, “Do you pay zakāh on them?” I said, “No”, or I said whatever Allah willed. He said, “This is sufficient for you (to take you) to the Hell fire.”[7]
  3. Zainab the wife of ibn Masʿūd (ra) narrated: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ delivered a sermon to us and said, “O women! Give charity, even if it is from your jewelry.”[8]

They also argue that gold and silver, regardless of what form they take, have the intrinsic potential to grow and increase in value, which would make them subject to zakāh.

Conclusion

As can be understood from the above the issue of zakāh on gold and silver jewelry is one that has been disagreed upon since the time of the Companions (ra). The proponents of both positions have their respective evidences, proofs, arguments and counter-arguments, which are beyond the scope of this article. Both positions are valid and qualified scholars reserve the right to hold the opinion they feel is stronger. The average person should follow the opinion of their personal school of thought, if they follow one, or a local scholar or imām whose knowledge and piety they trust.

How to Calculate Zakāh due on Jewelry

For those who adhere to the opinion that gold and silver jewelry is subject to zakāh, calculating how much to pay exactly can be a little challenging. Oftentimes the jewelry may have precious stones on it such as rubies or diamonds and it is difficult to determine the exact weight of the gold or silver. One way to do so would be to go to the jewelry store and have an expert determine the weight. Another more rudimentary way would be to use a scale at home and approximate to the best of one’s ability. Once the weight has been determined, calculate how much it is worth in dollars, add that value to the total assets, subtract liabilities, and then give 2.5% of the total if it reaches the niṣāb. There is a discussion amongst the jurists regarding which standard to use for determining the niṣāb, gold or silver. Many contemporary scholars choose the gold standard since it has a higher value. The niṣāb of gold is 87.48 g, which according to the rate of gold today (5/16/17) is equivalent to $3,467.71.

For example, Zainab owns 100 g of gold jewelry. The rate as of today (5/16/17) is $39.64 per gram, so her jewelry is valued at $3,964. In terms of how much zakāh she owes on the jewelry itself it will be $99.10, which is 2.5% of $3,964. For ease she can add the value of her gold jewelry to all her other zakātable assets such as cash, balance in accounts, rental income and the value of stocks.

For the sake of simplicity one can use a zakāh calculator such as the one found at the following link: http://www.instituteofknowledge.com/zakat/

  1. Muslim, k. Al-īmān, b. Bayān arkān al-islām w dʿā’imihi al-ʿidhām, 16
  2. Nasā’ī, k. Al-zīnah, b. taḥrīm al-dhahab ʿala al-rijāl, 5145
  3. Nawawī, al-Majmūʿ, 6/33
  4. Ibn al-Athīr, Sharḥ Musnad al-Shāfiʿī, 3/72
  5. Nawawī, al-Majmūʿ, 6/34
  6. Abū Dāwūd, k. Al-zakāh, b. Al-kanz mā huwa wa zakāh al-ḥuliyy, 1563
  7. Abū Dāwūd, k. al-zakāh, b. Al-kanz mā huwa wa zakāh al-ḥuliyy, 1565
  8. Tirmidhī, k. al-zakāh ʿan rasūlillah ﷺ, b. Mā jā’a fī zakāh al-ḥuliyy, 635
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