Question # 340: Is there a limit like maximum amount to be given to one Zakat eligible person? For Nisab value what to be used gold or silver because there is big a difference in the value.  For silver the amount is hardly Pak rupee 60,000 and the person is effectively still poor. If you use gold, then the value will be around 4 lakhs and the person let’s say has 1 lakh.

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: As for the maximum amount to be given to one eligible Zakat recipient, the scholars suggest that if the amount of zakah is more, it is better to be distributed among many persons, in order that the benefit desired from it, multiplies and if it is little, then it is better to give it to only one person in order to satisfy his need.

Next, the poor/needy, entitled to zakah, is the one who cannot find sufficient resource for himself and his family for one year. This can be in the form of food, clothing, money or tools to support his work/business. However, the definition of ‘sufficient’ resource for poor person varies from one time, place, family and circumstances (debts etc.) to another. Further, they may be given zakah on the basis of full ownership that is not altered, even if they cease to fall into the category of eligible recipients during the year, i.e., they will not be required to return the zakah and it will remain permissible for them.

As for the zakat giver, the value of nisaab for dollars or other currencies should be based on 85 gms of gold or 595 gms of silver at the time, when the zakah is owed. Given that, currently the price of silver is lower than the price of gold, the nisaab should be based on the price of silver for it be more beneficial to the poor.

Long Answer: As for maximum amount to be given to one eligible Zakat recipient, the scholars suggest that “if the money of zakah is much, it is better to be distributed among many persons, in order that the benefit desired from it should multiply. But if it is so little that in case of being distributed among many, it will not satisfy the need of each, it is better to be given to only one person in order to satisfy his need.” (The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs)

Next, among the eight categories who are entitled to zakah and to whom it must be paid in Soorah at-Tawbah, 9:40, the first and second are the fuqara’ and masaakeen (the poor and needy). They should be given zakah to meet their needs. The difference between the fuqara’ and masaakeen is that the masaakeen are better off than the fuqara’… These people should be given zakah because of their need.

The scholars said: They should be given what they need to suffice them and their families for one year, because when the year has passed, zakah will become due again. Just as the year is the unit of time by which zakah becomes due, so too the year should be the unit of time by which the poor and needy, who are entitled to zakah, should be given zakah. This is a good view, i.e., we should give the poor and needy person what will suffice him and his family for a full year, whether we give it in the form of food and clothing, or we give him money with which to buy what suits him, or we give him tools with which he can make things, if he is good at that, such as a tailor, carpenter or blacksmith and so on. What matters is that we give him what will suffice him and his family for one year. [hence, the poor person who is entitled to zakah is the one who cannot find enough for himself and his family for one year.]

[The above categories] may be given zakah on the basis of ownership; they may be given full ownership that is not altered if they cease to fall into these categories during the year. They will not be required to return the zakah and it will remain permissible for them, because Allah described them as being entitled to it and says “As-Sadaqat (here it means Zakah) are only for the Fuqaraa’ (poor), and AlMasaakeen (the poor) and those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam)”. He used the word li (innama al-sadaqaat li’l-fuqara’ [As-Sadaqaat (here it means Zakah) are only for the Fuqaraa’ (poor)] …). What this means is that even if the poor person becomes independent of means during the year, he is not obliged to return the zakah, such as if we were to give him ten thousand because he is poor and that will suffice him for one year, then Allah made him independent of means during that year by causing him to earn money, or by causing him to inherit from a relative who dies, and so on, he does not have to return whatever is left of the zakah money that he took, because it now belongs to him… (Majmoo’ Fataawa  Ibn ‘Uthaymeen)

The poor person is the one who has no income, or who has an income that is not sufficient. [In fact,] this varies from one time and place and family to another, but there are some cases which all are agreed are entitled to zakah, because their income is so low.

If a person receives a monthly salary, then we should look at what his annual income is, and at what he needs for maintenance throughout the year. For example, if what he earns in one year is five thousand but he needs ten thousand to live on, then he is poor or needy because he only has half of what he needs. (See: al-Sharh al-Mumti’)

It may be that he has enough for him and his family, but he is in debt and cannot afford to pay it off. So he should be given enough to pay off his debt. Or he may have enough to eat, drink and pay for shelter, but he needs to get married and cannot afford to pay the dowry, so he may be given enough to get married with. [Hence,] it is important to pay attention to finding out who is more deserving and in greater need.

[Lastly, as for the calculation of nisaab (the amount that determines whether zakah is obligatory; anyone who has more than this is obliged to pay zakah) for the zakat giver,] the value of the nisaab for dollars or other currencies is whatever is equivalent to the value of 20 mithqaals [a unit of measurement] of gold or 140 mithqaals of silver at the time when the zakah is owed. It should be based on whichever of the two works out better for the poor, because the prices of gold and silver vary from time to time and from country to country (Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah) and because this will be more beneficial to the poor. (Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah). Given that currently the price of silver is lower than the price of gold, the nisaab should be based on the price of silver, so if a person’s wealth (in paper money) reaches the nisaab on that basis, he has to pay zakah.

(Unless stated otherwise, the above reply is based on various answers provided by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the topic)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam