e-nisab

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Nisab Calculator

A Muslim legal problem…

The general meaning of Arabic word zakat (Ar. زكاة) includes to ascribes purity, to make fit, growth, blessing, and praise. Allah Most High says: Therefor ascribe not purity unto yourselves [53:32].

Within Islamic law, zakat refers to the alms which are obligatory to pay on livestock, personal savings, crops, and commercial assets when certain conditions are met. Proof that this is an obligatory duty comes from the Qur’an, including:

Establish worship and pay the poor-due [2:43]
Take alms of their wealth wherewith thou mayst purify them and mayst make them grow and pray for them. [9:103]
and Prophetic reports, including:
Islam is built upon five things: testimony that there is no God except Allah, and that I am his messenger, performing the prayer, fasting the month of Ramadan, paying zakat, and making pilgrimage to the House of Allah [Bukhari (8), Muslim (12)]
Instruct them that Allah has made incumbent upon them a charity which is taken from their rich and returned to their poor. [Bukhari (1331), Muslim (19)]

 

Individuals who owe zakat may distribute it personally or entrust someone with its distribution. The zakat is to be distributed to individuals within the eight categories mentioned in the Qur’anic verse:

The alms are only for the poor and the needy and those who collect them and those whose hearts are to be reconciled and to free the captives and the debtors and for the cause of Allah and (for) the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is knower Wise, [9:60].
Some scholars have observed that once the conditions for zakat on one’s asset have been met, the amount due automatically ceases being one’s property and becomes, instead, the property of its deserving recipients. Failure to distribute zakat is, thus, an injustice against one’s fellow man as well as against God.

The most commonly owed zakat is zakat on personal savings. The general conditions for zakat being owed on personal saving include that the individual

  1. be a Muslim;
  2. possess complete ownership;
  3. possess the minimal amount (Ar. نصاب, nisab): 20 mithqal for gold (84.7 gr), 200 dirham for silver (593.3 gr); and
  4. possess it for one year.

When these conditions are met, 2.5% of the asset must be distributed to its deserving recipients.

Verifying the nisab is trivial when gold and silver currencies are dominant, and when classic weights and measures are familiar. Neither describe the situation today. Today the vast majority of Muslims measure their assets in a local paper currency, and the Muslims who do have gold or silver assets weigh them in troy ounces and grams.

The preponderant opinion of Muslim legal scholars is that zakat is owed on paper currencies – either as personal savings or as trade goods – and that one determines the nisab by determining the value of their paper-currency assets in gold or silver.

This is done by assessing the amount of gold or silver their assets would buy, given the current market price. To do this one must know the amount of one’s assets in a paper currency, the market price for gold and silver – values which fluctuate significantly from one day to the next – and the nisabs for gold and silver in contemporary weights.

Most people find this too confusing and impractical.

This, in sha Allah, is where e-nisab can help.


e-nisab > introduction