Which assets are subject to Zakat?
In short, the following assets are subject to Zakat:
- Cash (and liquid investments)
- Gold and silver
- Business stock and assets
- Investments in Zakatable assets (shares, unity trusts, and equity)
- Debts owed to you
- Agricultural produce
What the Qur’an tells us about Zakatable assets
The list above is based on the Qur’anic reference to items subject to Zakat is rather general.
Surah Al-Taubah (9:103) mentions the word “amwal” (meaning “worldly possessions” or “wealth” in Arabic) and Surah Al-Baqarah (2:267) mentions, “What you have earned,” and “What we have produced for you from the earth.”
How to interpret this
In the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) Zakat was paid on
- gold and silver
- agricultural output
- goods designated for trade
certain items were exempt, such as items used for personal purposes such as clothes, and household furniture.
It is important to remember that during this time, land was almost worthless unless used agriculturally. Homes or other types of permanent dwellings were very inexpensive.
Therefore, Zakat was not paid on these and was, instead, paid on goods that held real value at the time.
What this means for Muslims today
On the basis of the above, various opinions have been formulated in regards to what actually is Zakatable.
These opinions can be split into:
- those who believe that only items specifically prescribed in the Qur’an and Sunnah are subject to Zakat, for example, dates, raisins, wheat, sheep, camels, assets acquired for the purpose of resale, gold and silver.
- those who include items similar in nature to those mentioned above but not specifically mentioned by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), e.g. vegetables, debts, wages, salaries, professional income, and the return generated by fixed assets.
- those who include all the above as well as contemporary items of income and wealth – including fixed assets.
Allah knows best