Q and A: Is there zakat for profession in Islam?

Q and A: Is there zakat for profession in Islam?


Assalamu Alaikum Warohmatulloohi wabarokatuh…
Alhamdulillaah wa Shalatu wassalaammu ‘alaa Rosulillaah…

Ustadz, may Allaah always protect you,

This morning, I was asked about the ruling of zakat for profession:

Is the ijtihad/analogy used by the scholars who allow the existence of zakat for profession is valid to be practiced? My company has been practicing this kind of zakat for long, by cutting the monthly wage of its employees based on an agreement beforehand. Some employees agree to it, and some disagree.

Also, is there a good book that explain specifically about this zakat for profession?

-From: Hasan


[1] The meaning of zakat that has to be taken from the wealthy has been explained clearly and in detail, in many places in the Qur’an and the hadith.

Moreover, zakat is one of the matter of worshipping/religious ritual, thus there is no room for anyone to conclude anything by himself, or to orchestrate new problem without any support from the Qur’an and the hadith. Scholars from various schools of Islamic law had stated that:

الأَصْلُ فِي العِبَادَاتِ التَّوقِيفُ

“The origin of ruling in worshipping matters is tauqifi, or prohibited.”

Based on this principle, the scholars explained that whosoever allows or practices certain religious act, he or she has an obligation beforehand to find indication that support or allow that act in shari’a. If there is no such thing, then the act is prohibited, or is considered as a heresy/innovation in religion.

مَنْ عَمِلَ عَمَل لَيْسَ عَلَيهِ أَمْرُنَا فَهُوَ رَدٌّ رواه مسلم

“Those who perform deeds which do not have any foundation or basis in our religion, the deed will then be rejected.” (Narrated by Muslim)

Think of this: Zakat is one of the pillars of Islam, as is the two testimony, prayer, fast, and hajj/pilgrimage. Is it tolerable if anyone try to conclude something by himself in those matters, by making other prayer compulsory than the five, or changing its rules; the fajr prayer becomes 4 rak’ahs, maghrib becomes 5 rak’ahs, and so on; or merging the time into one? Or by inserting new sentences that suit the progress of mankind in the two testimony? Or by conducting hajj in each country in order to save the money spent in it, and to distribute it equally for the sake of ummah’s prosperity? Or by dividing the one month fasting of Ramadan, to make it lighter and easier for the factory workers and other heavy workers’ sake?

Could you accept such inconsequential conclusion? If you couldn’t, then you should also feel the same towards the conclusion of zakat for profession, because it is similarly a conclusion in religious ritual and the pillar of Islam.

Even more so, it is proven in the history record that the Prophet’s companions and the generations after them didn’t recognize what so-called zakat for profession, while the term “wage” has long been known, and only differs in the diction. In the past, it was called “al ‘atha’”, and now, it is called “wage” or “raatin” or “mukafaah.” This diversity in names shouldn’t be the reason to change its ruling.

The other reason is that if we analyze this argument further, we’ll find many oddities and inconsistencies. The following is one of the evidences of it;

The supporter of zakat for profession analogize it with zakat from the crops (of farming), without taking into account the differences between them. Zakat from farming is 1/10 (one tenth) from the crops, if the irrigation comes for free, and 1/20 (one fifth) if it needs some expenses. Whereas in zakat for profession, the amount of zakat is 2.5%, hence, the analogy is especially weird and inconsistent. If it follows the first premise consistently, then the correct analogy would result in the amount of zakat in zakat for profession to be 1/10 (one tenth) for any profession that doesn’t need capital, and 1/20 (one fifth) for ones that need capital, which is certainly hard to pay, and the supporter of this argument would not dare to issue such a large amount of zakat to pay.

Wage is given in the form of money, thus it is more appropriate to analogize it with zakat from gold and silver, because it has similar status as tools for economic transaction, and as standard of value for goods.
The supporter of zakat for profession has glaringly violate the consensus of the scholars that has lasted for 14 centuries, i.e, by issuing fatwa of the obligation to pay zakat from buildings, lands, and the likes.
Wage is not something new in the history of mankind in general, and Islam in particular. It has been acknowledged since ancient times. The evidences are:

‘Umar Ibn Al-Khatthab -may Allaah be pleased with him- ever went to carry a task from the Messenger of Allaah – peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him-, and he received wage from the Messenger of Allaah – peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him- for it. Initially, ‘Umar -may Allaah be pleased with him- refused to take the wage, but the Messenger of Allaah – peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him- said to him, “If you are given something without you asking for it, take it and donate from it.” (Narrated by Muslim)

After Abu Bakr -may Allaah be pleased with him- was sworn as the caliph, he went to the market to sell things as with his habit before. Midway through it, he met ‘Umar Ibn Al Khatthab -may Allaah be pleased with him-, and ‘Umar asked him, “Where are you going?,” Abu Bakr said, “To the market.” ‘Umar asked for the second time, “Even though you have task that occupy yourself?,” Abu Bakr answered, “Subhanallaah, this task will occupy me from earning a living for my family?,”. ‘Umar replied, “We will give you a sufficient amount (for his family needs.” (Narrated by Ibn Sa’d and Al-Baihaqy)

Imam Al-Bukhary recounted Abu Bakr’s -may Allaah be pleased with him- confession regarding this matter:

لقد عَلِمَ قَوْمِي أَنَّ حِرْفَتِي لم تَكُنْ تَعْجِزُ عن مؤونة أَهْلِي وَشُغِلْتُ بِأَمْرِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ فَسَيَأْكُلُ آلُ أبي بَكْرٍ من هذا الْمَالِ وَيَحْتَرِفُ لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ فيه.

“Indeed, my people have known that my work can suffice my family needs; as for now, I am occupied by the muslims’ affairs, henceforward, the family of Abu Bakr will consume a part of this wealth (the wealth of bait al maal), while he (himself, -ed) will take care of their affairs.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)

These are the evidences that wage is not something new in the history of Islam and the muslims; however, for 14 centuries, none of the scholars have ever issued a fatwa of zakat taken from the wage of people. It proves that there is no zakat for profession, instead, there is only zakat for wealth, which has to meet two requirements to pay; i.e., the wealth from which it’ll be taken should have reach the minimal amount (nishab), and it has been like that for one year.

Therefore, the scholars who are experts in ijtihad (drawing conclusion of law after extensively examining religious sources) in our time have defied this argument. One of them is Sheikh Ibn Baaz, he stated, “As for zakat taken from wage that is in the form of money, it needs to be detailed; If a person has received his wage, and a year has passed after and its amount has reached the minimal amount to pay zakat, then it is compulsory to pay its zakat/take out zakat from it. But if his wage hasn’t reached the minimal amount, or hasn’t been owned for a year, moreover if he has spent it before, then there is no zakat from it.” (Refer to Maqalaat Al Mutanawwi’ah by Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ibn Baaz 14/134. A similar statement was further affirmed by Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Shaleh Al Utsaimin, Majmu’ Fatawa wa Ar Rasaa’il 18/178.)

Likewise, a similar fatwa was issued by the Standing Committee of Fatwa of the Saudi Arabia Kingdom. The following is the text of the said fatwa:

“As we’ve known together, that among the kind of wealth from which zakat must be paid, are gold and silver (currency). And one of the requirements of paying zakat from gold and silver (currency) is that it has been owned for a year. By this, it is compulsory to take zakat from the wage of an employee that has been saved for one year, and has reached the minimal amount of zakat, whether the wage itself has reached it or it is combined with other source of money, and one year has passed since its merger. It is not allowed to equalise wage with result of harvest, since the requirement of one year of ownership has been established in the indications, therefore, there should be no analogy in it. Based on these arguments, it is not compulsory to take zakat from the employees’ savings, until one year has passed (since the amount of the employees’ savings has reached the minimal amount of zakat obligation, -ed)

As the conclusion, I’d like for the readers to ponder about a promise from the Messenger of Allaah -peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him- below:

مَا نَقَصَتْ صَدَقَةٌ مِنْ مَالٍ. رواه مسلم

“An alms will not lessen the wealth.” (Narrated by Muslim)

Based on the explanation above, I’d like to suggest you to propose to your company or your superior in it to abolish the wage severance that has been going by the reason of zakat for profession. That is because there is possibility that not all those whose wage has been cut, has reached the obligation to pay zakat. Partly because their wage has not reached the minimal amount of money from which zakat is obliged to be paid, or if it has reached it, it hasn’t been owned for a year, for it is used to buy some lawful needs. And even if the two requirements has been fulfilled, it is still possible that the amount of zakat that he has to pay is not as large as the amount that has been taken from his wage all these while. And Allaah knows best.

[2] Based on the first answer, there is no need for you to search for books or articles written about zakat for profession.

It suffices you, as well as other muslims, to practice the kind of zakat that has been agreed upon by the muslim scholars throughout the history, which has also been thoroughly discussed and explained by them in every single book regarding Islamic law. And Allaah knows best.

Author: Ustadz Muhammad Arifin Badri, M.A.

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