Answered by Sidi Faraz A. Khan
Question: Assalamu Alaikum,
My wife and I wish to understand the rules and responsibilities on paying with zakat. She has gold jewelry, and earnings from property assets. I do not have any gold but have savings and earnings in my bank. I also have a significant amount of outstanding loan that I am paying off. My wife has a small loan as well. Questions we need your guidance/answers on:
1. Who is primarily responsible for paying Zakat on the wife’s assets? By default the husband or the wife?
2. If the answer to #1 is the wife should pay her own zakat, then who must pay Zakat if she is a student and not working, hence unable to pay?
3. If the answer to #1 and #2 is husband, then how does the husband prioritize between Zakat and loan?
4. What happens if the amount owed in loan is more than the Zakat that must be paid in a given year?
5. What happens if the amount owed in loan is smaller than the Zakat that must be paid in a given year?
4. Is there a reliable source online to calculate zakat based on total gold, asset, cash, vs. loan (i.e. an online calculator)?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.
(1) The default is that every person that is legally responsible (mukallaf)—i.e., sane and adult —must pay his or her own zakat. However, your wife can make you her agent (wakil) to pay her zakat. There is nothing wrong with that, and it is quite common in families.
(2) If she does not have the minimum amount (nisab), then zakat is not due.
If she does have nisab—based on cash, assets, gold, silver, etc.—then she must pay zakat. Please refer to a basic fiqh manual for details.
However, if the husband (or anyone else) agrees (and of course it is not an obligation on him), he may pay from his own money with her consent, and it would be deemed a gift from him to her, and then zakat.
That is, he may pay her zakat for her, from his own money, as long as she knows of it, in which case it is as if he gifted her money which she herself used for her zakat. This is included in the concept of him being her “wakil.”
(3), (4) and (5) A short-term debt has first priority, and so it is deducted before one sees if one has the minimum quantum (nisab). For a long-term debt, the immediate [monthly] installment can be deducted, but not more.
(6) For a reliable online source to see the current market value of the minimum quantum (nisab), see: http://www.e-nisab.com/
For a practical online course to learn about zakat and other financial issues, see: https://seekersguidance.org/courses/understanding-zakat-practical-guidance-on-the-wisdom-rules-and-etiquette-of-giving-zakat/
And Allah alone gives success.
Faraz A. Khan
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani