Should Zakat be measured with Gold or Silver?
Which one is the stronger opinion in measuring the zakat, with the value of gold or of silver?
From: Umm Ahmad
In the name of Allah,
In the name of Allah, peace and prayer of Allah be upon His messenger,
First of all, property or wealth in the form of currency or saving account could be equalled with gold or silver, because the gold and silver were also used as currency in the past. Thus, we could analogize the law of gold and silver to the cash money, although the gold and silver each possesses different calculation of zakat which can’t be unified. Therefore, if a person has 80 grams of gold (which is 5 grams short of the threshold of zakat), and 590 grams of silver (which is 5 grams short of the threshold of zakat), he isn’t obliged to combine his gold and silver savings hence he must pay the zakat for it.
An Nawawi said, ,
لا يضم الذهب إلى الفضة , ولا هي إليه في إتمام النصاب بلا خلاف ـ في المذهب ـ ، كما لا يضم التمر إلى الزبيب..
“”It is not allowed to combine the gold and silver to reach the threshold of zakat (nishab), (this opinion is, -ed) without any disagreement – in the madzhab of Shafii -, as date palm fruit shouldn’t be mixed with zabib (to reach the threshold).” (See: “al-Majmu'”, 5:504).
Second, unequal value
From Ali Ibn Abi Thalib -may Allah be pleased with him-, he said,
… فإِذا كانت لك مائتا درهم، وحال عليها الحول؛ فعليها خمسة دراهم، وليس على شيء -يعني في الذهب- حتى يكون لك عشرون ديناراً، فإِذا كان لك عشرون ديناراً وحال عليها الحول؛ ففيها نصف دينار
If you have 200 dirhams, and it has been saved for a year, (you are) obliged to spend 5 dirhams of zakat from it. And there is no obligation of zakat in gold, until you have 20 dinars. If you already have 20 dinars and it has been saved for a year, then the amount of zakat that must be taken from it is 1/2 of a dinar.” (Narrated by Abu Daud, no. 1391, and classed as valid by Al Albani).
The hadith above explained about the threshold of dinar (gold) and dirham (silver) which were currencies in the past. Based on it, the threshold of gold is 20 dinars (85 grams of gold) whereas the threshold of silver is 200 dirhams (595 grams of silver).
At the time of the companions, as stated by Dr. Hisamudin Affanah, the value of gold and silver were in balance, since both could be used as the gold standard of other stuffs prices. 1 dinar (gold) was always equal to 10 dirhams (silver). Thus, at that time, the value of 85 grams of gold was equal to the value of 595 grams of silver. (See: http://www.onislam.net/arabic/zakah-counsels)
But as time goes by, the society tended to choose gold as the standard for price rather than silver. Moreover, people need more of gold compared to silver. This phenomenon caused the value of silver tended to decline and unequal to gold anymore. It continued until silver was no longer used as the standard reference for price and it became a common commodity. If we compared the value of both commodities at the time (Which was February 2013), the threshold of gold would be about IDR 46 millions, whereas the threshold of silver was about IDR 4.8 millions. Such a far gap between those values.
Third, the scholars hold different opinions in deciding the reference for the threshold of zakat from wealth; whether it should follow the threshold of gold or silver.
The first opinion stated that the threshold of wealth should follow the lower between the thresholds. This opinion emphasized on the benefit for the poor. By following the lower threshold, it will be more beneficial for those who are rightful to receive the zakat share.
This is the opinion of majority of the contemporary scholars, as explained by Dr. Khalid Al Muslih, in his statement during the program “yas-alunak” which was broadcasted by tv channel: Ar risalah. This is also the opinion chosen by the Lajnah Daiman. In one of its fatwa, it was said,
مقدار نصاب الزكاة في الدولار وغيره من العملات الورقية هو ما يعادل قيمته عشرين مثقالًا من الذهب أو مائة وأربعين مثقالًا من الفضة في الوقت الذي وجبت عليك فيه الزكاة في الدولارات ونحوها من العملات، ويكون ذلك بالأحض للفقراء من أحد النصابين، وذلك نظرًا إلى اختلاف سعرها باختلاف الأوقات والبلاد
The threshold of dollar or other currency is equal with 20 mitsqal of gold (85 grams) or 40 mitsqal of silver (595 grams), at the time when you are obliged to pay the zakat in the form of dollar or other currency. And in this matter, the chosen threshold is the one that is most benefiting for the poor. It is done by considering the difference in its price, by taking into account the difference of time and place. (Fatwas of the Lajnah Daimah, no. 1728).
By taking into account the values of the thresholds of gold and silver, then the threshold of zakat taken from the currency / cash money -based on the more beneficial consideration for the poor- follows the threshold of silver. That is because by following the threshold of silver, which is no more than 5 millions, there will be more people that are obliged to pay their zakat obligation and consequently more amount of zakat to pay.
Since every one who has account worth of 5 millions and has been saved for a year, is obliged to pay the zakat.
The second opinion stated that the threshold of zakat should follow the threshold of gold. The reasons are:
The value of silver tends to decline, thus people are scarcely attracted to choose silver as a commodity to invest in. It is different with gold, which relative value is still acknowledged as an investment tool until now, as with cash money.
Gold is still used as the standard for price, whereas silver is no longer a standard. Thus, the characteristic of gold is closer to the characteristic of the cash money of today compared to silver.
The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- instructed Muadz -may Allah be pleased with him- to teach people about the obligation to pay zakat, at the time he delegated him to Yemen. One of the character of zakat the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- mentioned to Muadz was,
تُؤْخَذُ مِنْ غَنِيِّهِمْ فَتُرَدُّ عَلَى فَقِيرِهِمْ
The zakat is taken from their wealthy people, to be returned to the poor among them…(Narrated by Bukhari, hadith no. 7372).
The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- mentioned that those who were obliged to pay the zakat as “the wealthy”. Whereas our society agree that those who only have 5 millions in his saving account can’t be called wealthy yet.
Among the scholars who choose this opinion is Yusuf Qardhawi (Fiqh, 1/264) and Dr. Muhammad Sulaiman al Asyqar, professor of the faculty of Sharia at Kuwait University. In his work regarding the contemporary zakat, he explained,
مال في هذا العصر بعض الفقهاء في هذا العصر، إلى الرجوع إلى التقويم في عروض التجارة والنقود الورقية إلى نصاب الذهب خاصة ، ولذلك وجه بيّن ، وهو ثبات القدرة الشرائية للذهب فإن نصاب الذهب – العشرين ديناراً – كان يشترى بها في عهد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم عشرون شاة من شياه الحجاز تقريباً وكذلك نصاب الفضة – المئتا درهم – كان يُشتَرى بها عشرون شاةً تقريباً أيضاً
Some of the scholars of this era are tending to return the standard of zakat of the commodities and currency to the threshold of gold. And this opinion has a quite strong reason, that is by considering the constant selling value of gold. Because the threshold of gold – which is 20 dinars- at the time of the Prophet-peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- could be used to buy about 20 goats in Medina. Likewise, the threshold of silver – which is 200 dirhams- could also be used to buy 20 goats in the past.
أما في عصرنا الحاضر فلا تكفي قيمة مئتي درهم من الفضة إلا لشراء شاة واحدة ، بينما العشرون مثقالاً من الذهب تكفي الآن لشراء عشرين شاة من شياه الحجاز أو أقل قليلاً فهذا الثبات في قوة الذهب الشرائية تتحقق به حكمة تقدير النصاب على الوجه الأكمل ، بخلاف نصاب الفضة
As for our time now, 200 dirhams of silver is not enough but to buy a goat. Whereas 20 dinars of gold is still enough to buy about 20 goats or a little less in Medina. This constant selling value of gold is suitable with the aim of establishment of zakat threshold in a more perfect position, and the situation is different with the threshold of silver. (See: ” Abhats Fiqhiyyah fi Qadhaya zakat Mu’ashirah”: 1/30).
And Allah knows best.
Answered by Ustadz Ammi Nur Baits.