Q&A: Calculating Zakaat

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Question:
 
I calculate my zakaat on the last day of February each year. This year, in the first week of February I received a large sum of money from the sale of an asset. The money was still on hand on the last day of February. Must zakaat be paid on this amount as well?

Answer:

Your question contains two aspects. The first aspect pertains to the date of calculating one’s zakaat. You calculate your zakaat on the last day of February every year. This is incorrect. You must calculate your zakaat according to the Islamic (lunar) calendar. Also, you must fix your zakaat date from the day you became the owner of nisaab (the minimum amount of zakatable wealth). If you do not know the exact date, think back and try to establish the date as closely as possible. It is vitally important that you clearly establish a date and then adhere to that date, unless at any time you do not own any nisaab at all (i.e. your zakaatable wealth is now zero). In that case your zakaat year will only commence from the day you once again own nisaab. For example, your zakaat date is 10 Muharram. Every year you must calculate your zakaat according to what you own on this date. After several years you were left with no zakatable wealth at all. Later, on 20 Safar you once again owned nisaab. Your zakaat year will now commence on 20 Safar and in future you will  calculate your zakaat on this new date. (For more details contact the Ulama).

MAJOR DISCREPANCIES
 
If you do not adhere strictly to your zakaat date, major discrepancies could occur. For instance your zakaat date is 10 Muharram. You however calculated your zakaat on 1 Muharram. Your zakatable wealth on 1 Muharram was R50 000.00. However, on 9 Muharram you sold your car for R50 000,00 cash. Thus on 10 Muharram you are liable for zakaat on R100 000,00. Yet you calculated your zakaat only on R50 000,00. It is therefore very important to calculate one’s zakaat exactly on the date that one’s zakaat year expires.

OWN NISAAB FOR ONE YEAR

The second aspect in your question pertains to the inclusion of the amount received shortly before one’s zakaat year expires. The example mentioned above already answers this question. The amount will be included for the calculation of zakaat. The rule is that if you own NISAAB at the beginning and end of the year (provided that your zakatable wealth had not become nil in the interim), zakaat will be payable on whatever you own at the end of that year, even if some of it was received only one day before the expiry of that zakaat year.
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