Question # 403: If wife has gold equal to nisaab. Will she pay the zakat for it or her husband will pay it because currently the husband is under a little debt.

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: The husband does not have to pay zakah on the gold on his wife’s behalf, because the zakah is only obligatory on the possessor of the wealth, and the possessor in this case is the wife, because she is the owner of the gold. So, she must pay the zakah on it, either from the gold itself or from its monetary value. However, if her husband pays zakah on her behalf with her permission, he will be rewarded for this voluntary action.  On the other hand, if the wife wants to give the zakah on her gold or anything else to her husband who is in debt and cannot pay it off or who is poor, there is nothing wrong with that, according to many scholars. With regard to a husband giving zakah to his wife, the scholars are unanimously agreed that it is not allowed because he is obliged to spend on her, which means that she does not need zakah.

Long Answer: The husband does not have to pay zakah on the jewelry on his wife’s behalf, because the zakah is only obligatory on the possessor of the wealth, and the possessor in this case is your wife, because she is the owner of the jewelry. So, she has to pay zakah on it, either from the jewelry itself or from its monetary value. If her husband or someone else pays zakah on her behalf with her permission, that is o.k., and he will be rewarded for this voluntary action.

If the wife wants to give the zakah on her jewelry or anything else to her husband who is in debt and cannot pay it off or who is poor, there is nothing wrong with that, because it comes under the general meaning of the ayah: “As-Sadaqat (here it means Zakah) are only for the Fuqara’ (poor), and Al-Masaakeen (the poor)…” (Soorah al-Tawbah, 9:60)

Indeed there is the hope that she will have a multiple reward, because of the hadith narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim from Zaynab, the wife of ‘Abd-Allah, who said: “The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: ‘Give in charity, O women, even if it is from your jewelry.’ I went back to ‘Abd-Allah and said, ‘You are a man who has little, and the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) has commanded us to give in charity. Go and ask him if that is acceptable, otherwise I will give my charity to someone else.’ ‘Abd-Allah said to me, ‘No, you go and ask him.’ So, I went, and there I saw a woman from among the Ansaar at the door of the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم), wanting to ask the same question. We felt too shy to speak to the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Bilal came out to us and we said to him, ‘Go to the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and tell him that there are two women at the door asking whether it is acceptable for them to give charity (zakah) to their husbands and the orphans who are in their care, but do not tell him who we are.’ Bilal went in to the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and asked him, and the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) asked, ‘Who are they?’ He said, ‘A woman from among the Ansaar and Zaynab.’ The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) asked, ‘Which Zaynab?’ He said, ‘The wife of ‘Abd-Allah.’ The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said to him, ‘They will have two rewards, the reward of (upholding ties of) kinship and the reward of giving charity.’”

Al-Haafiz said: “This hadith indicates that it is permissible for a woman to give her zakah to her husband. This is the view of al-Shafi’i, al-Thawri and the two companions of Abu Hanifah. It was one of the two reports narrated from Maalik, and from Ahmad.”

This is supported by the fact that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did not discuss it further with her, which may be interpreted as meaning that his statement is applicable in general terms, because when she mentioned charity, he did not ask whether this was voluntary charity or obligatory charity (i.e., zakah). It is as if he said: That is a valid action on your part whether it is obligatory or voluntary.

Some scholars said that it is not allowed for a wife to give the zakah of her wealth to her husband, because he is going to spend some of it on her, so it is as if she is giving the zakah to herself. They interpreted this hadith as referring to voluntary charity.

Ibn al-Munayyir responded to this view by saying: “The possibility that her charity may come back to her also applies in the case of voluntary charity.”

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said in al-Sharh al-Mumti’: “ The correct view is that it is permissible to give zakah to one’s husband if he is one of the people who are entitled to zakah. Perhaps evidence for that may be seen in the words that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) spoke to Zaynab the wife of ‘Abd-Allah ibn Mas’ood: “Ibn Mas’ood has spoken the truth. Your husband and child are more deserving of your charity.” We may say that this includes both obligatory and voluntary (naafil) charity. Whatever the case, if this hadith is evidence then all well and good, but if it applies only to voluntary charity then with regard to giving zakah to one’s husband we say: if the husband is poor then he is entitled to zakah, and where is the evidence that this is not allowed? Because if the ruling can only be proven by evidence, there is no evidence either from the Qur’an or the Sunnah that a woman cannot give her zakah to her husband.”

The Standing Committee said: “it is permissible for a woman to give the zakah of her wealth to her husband if he is poor so as to ward off his poverty…”

[Lastly,] the above applies only to a wife giving her zakah to her husband. With regard to a husband giving his zakah to his wife, Ibn al-Mundhir said: “They (the scholars) are unanimously agreed that a man should not give his zakah to his wife, because he is obliged to spend on her, which means that she does not need zakah.”

(The above answer is based on various answers provided by Islam Q&A 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