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Delaying the Disbursement of Zakat: Its Ruling and Expiation in Islam
3 March، 2024
محتوى المقال

Zakat is one of the most significant religious duties that Allah has imposed on His believing servants, to spend from their wealth what is due to the poor, the needy, and those entitled to it. Allah has laid down specific rulings and legitimate ways to spend it at designated times to guide Muslims on how to discharge their Zakat.


Today’s article sheds light on the Islamic ruling regarding delaying Zakat disbursement, its imposed expiation, the circumstances our noble religion permits for its delay, and finally, we address some of the most commonly asked questions on this matter.


The Ruling on Delaying Zakat Disbursement in Islam

 Allah Almighty has ordained His servants to perform the duty of Zakat at a specified time after fulfilling the conditions of Zakat, to meet the needs of the poor and the needy throughout the year without delay or laxity from those obligated to pay.


Therefore, delaying the disbursement of Zakat is not permissible in Islam except with a legitimate excuse such as the impossibility of reaching those in need, the absence of poor people at the time of disbursement, or the unavailability of a Zakat expenditure category in the donor’s location. Imam Nawawi stated, “According to our view, Zakat must be disbursed immediately. Once it becomes obligatory and one is able to disburse it, delaying is not permitted. If one is unable, they may delay until they are able. If one delays after being able, they sin and become liable.”


Islam permits delaying Zakat disbursement in the following cases:


  • If disbursement is impossible due to a reason.
  • If disbursement without delay would harm the payer or their wealth.
  • If the delay benefits the poor or serves their interest.


The Ruling on Delaying Zakat Due to Lack of Funds

 Yes, because Zakat must be disbursed as soon as the year is complete. Since Zakat is a duty from Allah and a right of His servants, delaying its payment is not permissible. Therefore, any delayed Zakat must be disbursed to fulfill the rights of the poor from this wealth, but repentance for delaying Zakat disbursement and adherence to Allah’s rites are fundamental.


Imam Nawawi says, “If years pass without paying its Zakat, one must disburse Zakat for all those years, whether one knew of the obligation or not.”


The Ruling on Delaying Zakat Due to Lack of Liquid Assets

 Ideally, Zakat should be paid immediately upon its due time. Therefore, the payer should hasten to disburse their Zakat wealth. However, the Sharia acknowledges exceptional circumstances that justify payment delay, including:


  • Harm to the payer or their wealth.
  • Lack of sufficient funds to pay the Zakat amount.


What is the Ruling on Delaying Zakat Payment Without an Excuse? 

In Islam, the basic principle is the obligation to pay Zakat on time, and delaying it without a legitimate excuse requires seeking forgiveness and repentance; any delay should be quickly rectified.


As Allah says: “Establish prayer and give Zakat”; and the interpretation of this verse by many scholars indicates that this duty must be performed immediately, as Zakat wealth is a right of the poor, and thus their rights must be given as due without delay.


Is There an Expiation for Delaying Zakat?

 Islam does not impose an expiation for delaying Zakat payment other than hastening its disbursement without increase or decrease. If the wealth reaches the nisab and a lunar year has passed without paying Zakat, the payer must calculate how many years they need to make up for, and if it is only one year, they must make up for that year’s Zakat. If it is more, repentance for the delay is required, and they must make up for it without any addition but only what they must disburse from the wealth’s nisab.


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Frequently Asked Questions About Delaying Zakat

Is it permissible to disburse Zakat after its due time?

 Delaying Zakat disbursement is not permissible except with a legitimate excuse, such as the absence of Zakat expenditure categories or the disappearance of wealth that should be disbursed.

Is it permissible to disburse Zakat after Ramadan?

Disbursing Zakat is not tied to the month of Ramadan; the principle in Islam is to disburse it immediately upon obligation, i.e., at the end of the lunar year, except in cases that permit its delay.

Is delaying Zakat beyond its time permissible according to Ibn Baz?

 Ibn Baz mentioned that once Zakat becomes obligatory, it must be disbursed, but it becomes obligatory upon completing the lunar year; thus, one should strive and make every effort to disburse it without laxity.

When does the time for disbursement of Zakat end?

 Islam obligates the disbursement of Zakat upon completing the lunar year at any time of the year.

Does Zakat have a specific time?

 Yes, when wealth reaches the nisab and a lunar year has passed.

What are the consequences of not discharging Zakat?

 There is no clearer statement than that of the Prophet Muhammad: “Whoever has gold and silver and does not pay their Zakat, on the Day of Judgment, plates of fire will be heated for them; their sides, foreheads, and backs will be branded with them on a day that measures fifty thousand years, then they will see their path, either to Paradise or to Hell.”

Is it permissible to pay Zakat before its time?

 Yes, it is permissible to disburse Zakat before its time if it serves the interest of the poor, such as if a poor relative of the payer is in dire need, this is allowed for the good and blessing it brings.

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