Fatwa n° 912
Category: Fatwas about Zakât (obligatory charity)
Concerning the payment of Zakât by error
to people other than its due recipients
Is the person exempt from Zakât if he has paid it by error, and gave it out to people other than its due recipients? Particularly if its payment is based on the fatwa of some Imams of mosques? We would like you to clarify and detail the answer as much as possible and may Allah reward you.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers until the Day of Resurrection:
It is incumbent upon the Muslim to be sure about the payment of Zakât. Yet, If he paid his Zakât to a person thought to be a due recipient and he gave it out to him by error while he did not know his reality and contented himself with estimating him by his appearance, or being recommended by someone who knows his circumstances; but after that, it appeared that he is not a due recipient of Zakât, then -in this case- the person is exempt from the duty of paying Zakât, according to the hadith of Ma’n Ibn Yazîd رضي الله عنهما who said: “My grandfather, my father and I gave the pledge of allegiance to Allah’s Messenger صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ. The Prophet got me engaged and then got me married. One day, I went to the Prophet with a complaint. My father Yazîd had taken some gold coins for charity and kept them with a man in the mosque (to give them to the poor), but I went and took them and brought them to him (my father). My father said: By Allah! I did not intend to give them to you”, I took (the case) to Allah’s Messenger صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ. Upon that Allah’s Messenger صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said: ‘Ô Yazîd! You will be rewarded for what you intended. Ô Ma‘n! Whatever you have taken is yours’ ”(1). Al-Bukhârî devoted a chapter entitled: “Chapter concerning: if a person gives charity unintentionally to his son”(2), and according to the hadith of Abû Hurayra رضي الله عنه that Allah’s Messenger صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم said: “A man said that he would give something in charity. He went out with his object of charity and unknowingly gave it to a thief. Next morning the people said that he had given his object of charity to a thief. (On hearing that) he said: ‘Ô Allah! All the praises are for You. I will give charity again.’ And so he again went out with his charity and (unknowingly) gave it to an adulteress. Next morning the people said that he had given his charity to an adulteress last night. The man said: ‘Ô Allah! All the praises are for You. (I gave my charity) to an adulteress. I will give charity again.’ So he went out with his charity again and (unknowingly) gave it to a rich person. (The people) next morning said that he had given his charity to a wealthy person. He said: ‘Ô Allah! All the praises are for You. (I had given charity) to a thief, to an adulteress and to a wealthy man.’ Then someone came and said to him: ‘The charity that you gave to the thief, might make him abstain from stealing, and that given to the adulteress might make her abstain from adultery, and that given to the wealthy man might [make him take a lesson from it and] spend his wealth which Allah has given him in Allah's Cause.’ ”(3). Al-Bukhârî devoted, concerning this hadith, a chapter entitled: “If a person gives charity to a rich person without a prior knowledge of his richness”(4), i.e., his charity is accepted(5).
This being said, the ruling is the same if the fatwa that a Mufti has issued for him as regards the validity of giving the Zakât to some categories; so he (the payer of Zakât) gave it according to the fatwa. Then he learnt that he had given it to the wrong person; therefore, he is exempt from the duty of paying Zakât, and he is not required to pay it again, contenting with the predominant conjecture and he has what he intended, according to his saying صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: “…and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended”(6). Conversely, the one who already knows that the asker (of Zakât) is not a due recipient, this one is required to pay it [again] and is therefore bound up with the obligation of paying Zakât to its due recipients, according to what was reported by Abû Dâwûd and others that: “Two men came to the Prophet صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ when he was at the Farewell Pilgrimage while he was distributing charity and asked him for some of it. [They said] He looked us up and down, and seeing that we were robust, he said: ‘If you wish, I shall give you, but neither a rich man nor a person who is strong and able to earn has a share of it’ ”(7).
The perfect knowledge belongs to Allah عزَّ وجلَّ; and our last prayer is all the praises and thanks are to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and prayers of Allah are to Muhammad and his Family, Companions and Brothers until the Day of Resurrection.
Algiers on Jumâdâ Al-Ûlâ the 16th, 1429 H
Corresponding to May the 21st, 2008 G.
(1) Reported by Al-Bukhârî (1422) on the authority of Ma‘n Ibn Yazîd رضي الله عنهما.
(2) See: “Sahîh Al-Bukhârî with the explanation of Fath Al-Bârî” (3/291).
(3) Reported by Al-Bukhârî (1421) and by Muslim (1022), from the hadith of Abû Hurayra رضي الله عنه.
(4) See: “Sahîh Al-Bukhârî with the explanation of Fath Al-Bârî” (3/290).
(5) See: “Fath Al-Bârî” (3/291) by Ibn Hajar (3/290).
(6) Reported by Al-Bukhârî (1) and by Muslim (1907), from the hadith of ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattâb رضي الله عنه.
(7) Reported by Abû Dâwûd (1633) and by An-Naşâ’î (2598), from the hadith of ‘Ubayd Allâh Ibn ‘Adiy Ibn Al-Khiyâr that two men informed him. Ibn ‘Abd Al-Hâdî in “At-Tanqîh” said: “It is an authentic hadith and its narrators are trustworthy”. Al-Imâm Ahmad -May Allah be pleased with him- said: “What a good hadith with the best chain of narration” [See: “Nasb Ar-Râya” by Az-Zayla‘î (2/401)], and the hadith is judged authentic by Al-Albânî in “Al-Irwâ’ ” (3/381).