Q. Is zakat due on women’s jewelry?
A. There is disagreement on the question. The strongest view is also the safest, namely that whereby whatever is above nisab counts as money, and is therefore subject to zakat.
It is established in fiqh — law — and `urf — custom — that women’s jewelry is subject to zakat because in most cases such artefacts are regarded as investments for protection, not mere adornments. The author of Fiqh al-Sunna said:
“Scholars agree that no zakat has to be paid on diamonds, pearls, sapphires, rubies, corals, chrysolite, or any kind of precious stones unless they are used for trade. There is, however, disagreement over whether women’s gold or silver jewellery is exempt.
“THE VIEW THAT ZAKAT IS PAYABLE ON GOLD AND SILVER JEWELLERY
Abu Hanifah and Ibn Hazm hold that zakat is compulsory on gold and silver jewellery provided they constitute a nisab.
Their view is based on the report of Amr ibn Shu’ayb from his father from his grandfather: “Two women with gold bracelets on their wrists came to the Prophet. The Prophet said: ‘Do you want Allah to make you wear bracelets of fire on the Day of Judgement?’ They answered: ‘No.’ He said: ‘Then pay the zakat which is due on what you wear on your wrists.'” [Narrated by Tirmidhi, who alluded to a weakness in his two chains, while Ahmad narrates it through two stronger chains in his Musnad (2:204, 5:378), and both al-Nasa’i and Abu Dawud with another two good chains in their Sunan, Book of Zakat.]
In the same way, Asma bint Yazid reported: “My aunt and I, while wearing gold bracelets, went to the Prophet. He asked: ‘Did you pay their zakat?’ She related that they had not. The Prophet said: ‘Do you not fear that Allah will make you wear a bracelet of fire? Pay its zakat.” [Narrated by Ahmad (6:461) with a good chain, as Haythami declared in Majma` al-zawa’id (3:67).]
Aisha narrated: “The Messenger of Allah came to me and saw me wearing silver rings, whereupon, he asked: ‘What is this, Aisha?’ I replied: ‘I made them to adorn myself for you, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said: ‘Did you pay their zakat?’ I said: ‘No, or what Allah wishes.’ Then he said: ‘Their punishment in Hell is enough for you.'” [Narrated by Abu Dawud in his Sunan with a strong chain (Zakat), Daraqutni in his Sunan, and Bayhaqi in his Sunan (4:140)]
THE VIEW THAT ZAKAT IS NOT PAYABLE ON GOLD AND SILVER JEWELLERY
Malik, Shafi’i and Ahmad ibn Hanbal hold that there is no zakat on women’s jewellery regardless of its value. [See below regarding this statement]
Bayhaqi relates that Jabir ibn Abdullah was once asked if jewellery was subject to zakat. He replied that it was not, even if its value exceeded one thousand dinars.
Bayhaqi also narrates the case of Asma: “Asma bint Abu Bakr used to adorn her daughters with gold. Although its value was around fifty thousand dinars, she did not pay zakat on it.”
It is related in al-Muwatta from Abdur Rahman ibn al-Qasim from his father that Aisha used to take care of her nieces, who were orphans under her protection, and adorned them with jewellery without paying its zakat.
Also in al-Muwatta it is related that Abdullah ibn Umar used to adorn his daughters and slave girls with gold without paying zakat.
Summing up the subject, al-Khattabi concludes: “What appears in the Qur’an supports the view of those who hold that zakat is obligatory on gold and silver, and the traditions also support this. Those who did not consider it obligatory based their view on speculation and some of the traditions. However, to be on the safe side, it is better to pay.”
These different views deal with allowable gold or silver adornment. As for other adornments which are prohibited – that is, a woman wearing a man’s adornment – their zakat should be paid. The same rule is applied to gold or silver utensils.
The view that zakat is due on jewelry is closest to the letter of the Qur’an (9:34) and confirmed by the Prophet’s explicit words, whereas the opposite view has only the Companions’s text as evidence: and this is why the hadith master al-Khattabi preferred the former, although he was Shafi`i. May Allah have mercy on all of them.
This being said, the view of Sabiq whereby “Malik, Shafi’i and Ahmad ibn Hanbal hold that there is no zakat on women’s jewelery regardless of its value” is misleading or incorrect. The Shafi`is consider any jewelry over 200 mithqal [about 1/2 kg. or 1 lb.] as consisting in excess and therefore impose zakat on it. Similarly, any jewelry intended for saving [iddikhar] is zakatable. This is stated in Mughni al-muhtaj (1:390), al-Muhadhdhab (1:158), al- Majmu` (6:29f.) and elsewhere. Similarly women’s jewelry kept as saving rather than adornment is zakatable for the Malikis, see al-Dasuqi’s commentary on al-Sharh al-kabir (1:460) Bidayat al-mujtahid (1:242), and al-Qawanin al-fiqhiyya (p. 101). The Hanbalis hold something similar. Sources: Zuhayli, al-Fiqh al-islami wa adillatuh (2:764f.) and Jazayri’s al-Fiqh `ala al-madhahib al-arba`a, book of zakat. And Allah knows best.
© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America