Assalamualaikum. Nisab for zakat set by PPZ this year is RM15k. However, the current gold price sometimes reaches RM310 per gram. So, which one shall we follow for zakat on property like savings and income? How does the zakat institution state the nisab for zakat? Thank you, SS Mufti.
Firstly, the zakat institution states the nisab for zakat by considering the gold price for the past year as the standard rate for nisab of the next year. After the mean is acquired, the value will be used until the end of the next year. Any increase or decrease of the gold price during the current year is not considered due to uniformity.
Secondly, regarding the question of which one is better to be followed whether the current gold price or the standard value set by zakat institution, we are of the opinion that it is better to choose any value which is lower between these two. This is to allow more people to become eligible to pay the zakat hence the zakat fund collected may be given to the asnaf in need.
Paying zakat is part of the pillars of Islam which is wajib to be fulfilled by each Muslim individual who fulfils the requisites and conditions. Among the main conditions for a person to be obligated to pay zakat is reaching the nisab which is the minimum amount obliged by zakat.
Specifically on the nisab for zakat on property like the zakat on savings and income, both categories of zakat are originally in accordance with the nisab for zakat on silver and gold. The stating of nisab is based on a hadith narrated by Saidina Ali bin Abi Talib RA where the Prophet PBUH said:
إِذَا كَانَتْ لَكَ مِائَتَا دِرْهَمٍ -وَحَالَ عَلَيْهَا اَلْحَوْلُ- فَفِيهَا خَمْسَةُ دَرَاهِمَ, وَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكَ شَيْءٌ حَتَّى يَكُونَ لَكَ عِشْرُونَ دِينَارًا, وَحَالَ عَلَيْهَا اَلْحَوْلُ, فَفِيهَا نِصْفُ دِينَارٍ, فَمَا زَادَ فَبِحِسَابِ ذَلِكَ
“When you possess two hundred Dirhams at the end of the year (if you still have all of them), five Dirhams are levied on them as Zakah. There is nothing upon you (to be paid) in gold, until it reaches (the value of) twenty Dinars. When you possess twenty Dinars, at the end of the year, then there is half a Dinar levied on it (as Zakah). Any additional amount will be calculated in the same manner.”
Sunan Abu Dawud (1573)
Based on the above hadith, the nisab for zakat in the form of money and other fixed property of the same type is 20 mithqal of gold (85 grams) or 200 dirhams of silver (595 grams). However, the difference may happen when the current value for Malaysian Ringgit (RM) or any currency is volatile. This is clearly proven when the nisab for gold for the year 2020 in Federal Territories is set to RM15,762 (RM185.44/ gram) while for the year 2021, the nisab increases to RM20,299 (RM238.81/ gram).
It is irrefutable that the price for one gram of gold may decrease or increase by 2021. However, Pusat Pungutan Zakat Wilayah Persekutuan took the approach of considering the mean based on the previous year as the standard of nisab value for the next year. After the mean value is acquired, the value is used until the end of the next year before being re-evaluated based on the current gold price. Any increase or decrease of the price for one gram of gold that takes place during the current year is not considered to synchronise the process of zakat payment.
Nonetheless, regarding the question of which one is better to be followed whether the current gold price or the standard value set by zakat institution, we are of the opinion that it is better to choose any value which is lower between these two. This is to allow more people to become eligible to pay the zakat hence the zakat fund collected may be given to the asnaf in need.
This approach is also used by scholars when choosing the most suitable interpretation for one unit (mithqal) of gold based on the modern value. In the end of the discussion, they state,
والاحتياط في الأمر أن نعتمد الأقل، وهو المقدار الأول، حرصاً على مصلحة الفقير
“The safer and more cautious way in this matter is we hold onto the lower value which is the first value (between 95 to 100 gram). This is seen as more protecting to the maslahah of those in need.”
(Refer al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 2/30)
Lastly, may the above explanation may enlighten on the issue of the standard value chosen by the zakat institution as well as understanding that the best nisab for zakat best chosen is any value which is lower to allow many Muslims to pay zakat hence able to ease the burden of the asnaf.