This is an obligation imposed by Allah Almighty for Him, for His Trusted Messenger, His Pure Progeny (peace be upon them all), the descendants of Hashim, the Prophet's nearest in kin, in order to compensate them for having raised their status above receiving people's charities, in order to dignify them, elevate them, honor their position and safeguard the dues owed to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) for them. The believers, may Allah Almighty grant them honors, must be attentive about paying these dues so they may not be counted among those who wrong and harm those for whom Khums is due. Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) has said, "The hardest situation through which people will suffer on Judgment Day is when the one to whom Khums is payable stands and says, 'Lord! [Where is] my Khums?'"[i]
It is thus that the believers are cleansed, their wealth becomes lawful and the means of their livelihood grow. Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) has said, "I take from one of you the dirham while I am amongst the wealthiest in Medina; I only want you to thus be purified."[ii] Imam al-Kadhim (peace be upon him) has said, "By Allah! Allah makes it easy for the believers to make a living through five dirhams: They set aside one of them for their Lord while consuming the remaining four lawfully.” Then the Imam (peace be upon him) said, "This is one of our traditions which are hard to apply: Nobody acts upon it and is patient in its regard except if he is one whose heart Allah tested with faith."[iii]
Imam al-Rida (peace be upon him) wrote a letter once about the subject of Khums. He said, "Do not keep it away from us [the Ahl al-Bayt] and [thus] you deprive yourselves of our supplications as long as you can pay it, as its payment is the key to your sustenance, the removal of your sins, the things that you prepare for yourselves [to be used] to the Day of your need [Judgment Day]. A Muslim is one who honors his pledge to Allah, and a Muslim is not one who responds to the call of Islam with his tongue while his heart inclines otherwise."[iv] Such traditions are numerous.
Q1: Some people deal with the Sharia-required dues without referring to the Hakim Shar’i or his agent with the excuse that one is not convinced about the way some agents deal with these dues; so, what is your opinion in this regard?
A: One has to know the following:
Firstly: It is prohibited for one who pays the dues to pay them to somebody about whom he is not convinced that he would deal with it in a good way, because these dues are trusts in his hand, and he must not be negligent about it.
Secondly: Not being convinced about how some agents fare with the ways they are to be dispensed does not justify one abandoning the Sharia-imposed criteria so he feels independent in dealing with such dues without referring to the Hakim Shar'i who is entrusted to handle them. Evidences have proven the obligation of referring to him, and one is not cleared of the responsibility for these dues when he thus behaves independently. One has to refer to him or to his trusted agent who will then pass the dues to him or personally deals with it according to his instructions. The matter is not restricted to the agents whom the said individual is not convinced that they deal well with the dues.
Thirdly: One must be on his guard regarding some people who try to make accusations against scholars and their representatives, and exaggerating in doing so, without having proofs, or by deliberately making a lot of noise without any justification. We do not deny that there are some anomalies and negativities as a result of unintentional errors, or even overlooking things in an unjustifiable way. But this does not mean that nobody should be trusted and that all of them must be avoided, for such is a stark injustice to the truth on one hand, and it causes the disobedience of the religious laws on the other; reason and the Sharia do not see any alternative to the scholars. Any alternative that has been imposed or is being imposed in our societies and in all societies on earth is less trustworthy and sincere than the religious scholars. What is then expected from the alternatives in respect of anomalies and negativities is much, much greater than what has taken place in the current situation, as testified by observing other religious societies. The latter has replaced the creed with frozen slogans and dead traditions which have no impact or effect, and replaced it with a toy in the hands of politicians and influential forces in the world that push it wherever they want. Who have preserved the principle of Shi’ism during this long period, despite the intensity of the calamities, by its active spirit and lively call, other than the righteous scholars who struggled along the path of Allah Almighty, advised and guided the servants of the Almighty and tolerated harm while doing so? They did not respond to the oppressors, nor did they coordinate with them or recognize their rule until they imposed their religion and their own selves on the grounds of reality.
Beware, beware of this oppressive and suspicious campaign against the pious scholars: It is a branch of the brutal campaign against Shi’ism in general which all corners of the world are witnessing. The believers, May Allah Almighty lead their steps towards what is right, must ensure a relationship with the practicing sincere scholars and with their righteous and upstanding representatives. Everyone must attach themselves to them so they may facilitate performance of their function perfectly, in the best of ways. Thus, the agitators who are prompted to cause such noise should realize the defeat of their pursuits, and their prompters should realize the failure of their schemes:"… It may be that Allah will restrain the fury of the unbelievers, for Allah is the Strongest in might and in punishment” (Qur'an, 4:84).
Q2: Is it permissible to pray in a residence or wearing a garment or on a carpet, the Khums of whichhas remained unpaid? Is buying food with money, from which the Khums has not been paid, considered consuming what is prohibited to consume? Does the prohibition in all these things apply to persons other than the owner of these items those Khums has remained unpaid?
A: The owner of the property and money the Khums of which has remained unpaid is prohibited to use them before paying their Khums, and if he uses it, for instance, in performing the prayers, such prayers are not valid while he is aware of the rule; like if he prayed while wearing a garment or while living in a house the Khums of which is yet to be paid. Dealing with the property, the Khums of which has remained unpaid, is valid in the sense that it is not prohibited to use an item if such item was bought using it, if this property was money; similarly, if the property is not money, it is permissible to use the price that is given in return for an item on which Khums has not been paid. Having said that, the owner of the property which has remained liable for Khums remains in debt of paying the Khums and he will be questioned about it on Judgment Day.. The same applies if he permits someone else to use that property: that someone else is permitted to use it, while the owner of the property will carry the sin of being negligent of Khums, so the burden will be on him while someone else enjoys it lawfully! Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) has said, "The hardest situation of anyone on the Judgment Day is when one to whom the khums is due stands up and says, 'Lord! Where is my Khums?'"[v]
Q3: Is it possible to invest Sharia-imposed dues - Sahm al-Imam (May Allah hasten his reappearance) and Sahm al-Sadaat – in secure investments in order to see the money thus grow with the permission of the agent of the Mujtahid if there is no urgent and immediate need in the country to spend it? If we suppose it is permissible, are the benefits of such investments to be spent in the same way as the original share of Khums is spent or can it be spent more openly, like if they are spent for the general welfare?
A: There is no way to invest Sahm al-Sadaat. As for Sahm al-Imam (May Allah hasten his reappearance), it is not permissible without being certain of his satisfaction and that is not acquired by merely not needing to spend it in that country since the Imam (May Allah hasten his reappearance) had been in charge of and concerned about meeting the needs of the religion and of the believers in all lands. And the need to spend this Sahm to promote the religion and to fulfill the needs of the believers in many countries is obvious, to the extent that it has reached the status of tragedy and urgency.Even if we say that such investing is permissible, it is necessary to obtain the permission of the Hakim Shar'i in this regard. Also the ways of spending the profits of such investments are the same as the ways of spending the blessed Sahm, since the profit follows the original capital.
Q4: Do you permit one who follows you in taqlid, for example, to hand over his Khums to a contemporary jurist?
A: We have stated in our treatise of practical Islamic laws, Minhaj al-Saliheen, in issue number 79 of the Book of Khums, the requirement which has to be met by one receiving the Khums, and we did not restrict it to our own self or to any other particular individual. So, when this requirement is met, the obligation is fulfilled and there is no need to refer to us. Without it, we cannot permit the payment of Khums.
There is something which is quite important to which attention should be paid: Referring to the Hakim Shar’i fulfills the obligation if the individual is certain that he chooses the best ways to spend the dues in order to please the Imam (May Allah hasten his reappearance) and that he is able to do so. Khums belongs to the Imam (peace be upon him) and one who has to pay it is its custodian. Authority over the obligation is jointly shared by the owner and the Hakim Shar’i: each is obligated to spend it on whatever pleases the Imam (peace be upon him).So, the owner of the property should not pay the Khums to the Hakim Shar’i and assign to him the task of spending it unless he trusts his good handling of it, in a way which pleases the Imam (peace be upon him).
With the differences amongst the Hakims in their understanding and good handling, the most trusted one with the best knowledge in spending the Khums must be chosen, the one who is more able to deliver the dues and spend them in their appropriate places, according to the dictates of dealing with a trust. If his choice is not based on all of this, he will have betrayed the trust and he will be held accountable for so doing.
We have discussed the explanation of the above in length in Minhaj al-Saliheen; and it is from Him, the most Praised, that we seek help and achieve success.
Q5: After searching and questioning about the most knowledgeable Mujtahid, a believer became convinced about a particular Mujtahid to whom he paid the religious dues [i.e. Khums]. After that, his conviction shifted to another Mujtahd. Is his first action sufficient and his obligation fulfilled?
A: If he had exerted his efforts in his search, if he did not have shortcomings in doing so, and was not neglectfully hasty, by the will of Allah he will receive the rewards of what he had done. If he was hasty and did not exert all his effort in investigating, he should refer to the Mujtahid who has fulfilled all the necessary criteria according to him and is the right person to follow (i.e. the Mujtahid that he has chosen as his Marja) and explain to him the situation; if he is certain that the first Mujtahid has spent the dues in the right place, the second Mujtahid might approve the spending of the first and the individual's action will be sufficient. If the second Mujtahid is not satisfied with the ways the money was spent, what the individual has done is not sufficient, and he must repay the dues again.
Q6: There are certain cases in the West in which the government pays the rent on behalf of a tenant so it may secure his residency…
A. If he buys a house to live in while being still in such a status, will this second home be regarded as extra, so he must pay the Khums on it?
B. If it is extra, can he end the State's rental of his rented house then reside temporarily in the house which he bought so he does not have to pay the Khums, then he gets out of it again to a house the rent of which the State pays while he lets his own house which he bought?
C. If he registers it in someone else's name then occupied it, can he take the State's funds paid to the one in whose name the house is registered?
D. Can he keep renting the house (for which the State pays rent) while he temporarily lives in the house he bought for a few days so he does not have to pay the Khums for it, after which he gets out of it and leases it and pays the profit's Khums?
A: Arranging a house to live in does not make it part of the [deductible] expenses and Khums is not dropped from it. Rather, this [dropping the Khums] depends on the house being actually his own place of residence. It does not suffice if he resides in it for a period of time in order to avoid the Khums requirement. Rather, it has to be used as a place of living so as it is true to describe it as his place of residence. But if he undertakes it as residence and the Khums is dropped from it, there is no objection if he takes the rental money from the State if it is registered in someone else's name.
Q7: Some individuals form a society in which every individual pays a certain amount of money every month, and these sums are handed over to the president of the society so he would pay it every month to one of the society participants. But it is not known whether handing over these monies to the president is done as a trust, a grant, a loan or as their agent or under any other label. So, they do not make a distinction among these labels, or they do not mean any of them in particular.
The question is: Is there Khums to be paid on these funds so that each individual should calculate his annual profits taking into consideration his share of the funds, and thus take his Khums out?
A: If paying the money to the president is for the purpose of him paying it to the participants, as is surmised from the question, the president will be acting as an agent [representing the group], and he will not be a borrower unless it is his turn and he takes it out, or they permit him to borrow it before his turn reaches him. Each participant must consider what he had paid to be part of his profits. Then he must take out its Khums after excluding his debts based on the religious rulings of Khums exclusions.
Q8: If a government employee or one who works in a private company does not receive his salary in person, rather the company transfers it to his account in a government owned bank or a private bank; does he have to pay its Khums at the end of the Khums fiscal year?
A: Cash bills which are withdrawn from government banks, received as salary from the Government, if they were previously owned by Muslims, are called “Majhool Al-Malik”. The religious obligation on it is to receive it with the intention of being on behalf of my behalf, and then you intend to own it. It is then, considered amongst the profits and Khums is applicable on it if the rest of the conditions of Khums are fulfilled. If the government salary was not withdrawn from the bank and remains in it, then Khums is not applicable. As regarding salaries of private companies, it is profit as soon as it becomes due and Khums is applicable on it if the rest of the conditions of Khums are met. This ruling of the private companies’ salary is not affected if the salary was deposited in a government bank.
Q9: The State and some companies in non-Muslim countries and in some Muslim countries may transfer salaries of their employees directly to their own respective bank accounts, so the employee does not hold the money in his hand as cash, but he can withdraw it whenever he wants. So, if an employee's account rises above his annual expenses, should the Khums then be taken out of it?
A: The Khums has to be taken out of it if the salary comes from a private company. But if it is from the State, Khums does not have to be paid on it unless he obtains it in cash and there is a surplus in it at the end of the Khums year.
Q10: Every citizen who works at a government office or a company has a small amount deducted from his salary and is deposited in a retirement fund. When the worker or employee reaches retirement age, he is given every month from this fund an amount close to a fourth of what his salary used to be. If the employee or worker resigns from his job, he asks to get paid from his retirement fund all the funds due to him which accumulated during the years of working at the office or company. Is this sum liable to Khums after having received it, or should he first see if it exceeds his annual expenses to know whether to the Khums is due or not?
A: If this sum is received gradually every month at his retirement or if it is received as a lump sum when one resigns, and he acted according to his obligation of "Majhool Al-Malik”, as explained previously, then he can spend from it until the end of the Khums year arrives, at which time if there is any surplus he should pay Khums on it, otherwise nothing is due. This applies to the salary if received from the State. This applies to the salary if received from the state. But if it is received from a privately owned company, the Khums applies to it as soon as it is received because it is considered as debts that are profits of past years and the Khums thereof must be paid when received.
Q11: If an individual deposits an amount of money in a Government bank, will Khums be applicable on the said money?
A: As an obligatory precaution, the Khums must be taken out of the said money.
Q12: Is it permissible to seek reconciliation with regard to the Khums, to clear one's responsibility and obligation to pay it?
A: Reconciliation about the Khums is only done when there is doubt about how much of it should be paid, between a higher amount and a lower amount. It is not cleared from one's responsibility even if someone claims that it he dropped it for the individual or he forgave it for him. There must be precaution undertaken when referring to someone who does that, as doing so is wasting the religious dues and it is an alteration of the religious ruling; we plead to the most Praised One to protect us from this and to keep our feet firm on His Right Path.
Q13: Are the electronic devices like the television or the like regarded to be among one's exempted expenses? If it is not, should Khums be paid as soon as it is purchased?
A: If these are used for the intended purpose in a considerable amount, they are included in the exempted expenses, and do not become subject to Khums.
Q14: There is a set of household pots. If I use only some items of the set, is this sufficient so I do not have to pay the Khums on the entire set?
A: If what one needs cannot be obtained unless he buys the whole set, there is no Khums required to pay if he uses some of it. But if he can get what he needs without having to buy the whole set, the Khums applies on what remains unused
Q15: Is a gift subject to Khums? If so, should payment of its Khums be done one year after it is received or at the time? What is the ruling relevant to funds taken from an individual who does not pay Khums on his property?
A: Payment of the Khums on a gift is due at the end of the Khums fiscal year – not when it is received, nor after the passing of one year. The property taken from an individual who does not pay Khums on his wealth is lawful. The burden of not paying the Khums falls on the shoulders of one who does not pay it, and the claim against him shall remain standing.
[i]Wasaail Al-Shi'a, Vol. 6, p. 386.
[ii]Ibid., Vol. 6, p. 337.
[iii]Ibid., Vol. 6, p. 338.
[iv]Ibid., Vol. 6, p. 375.
[v]Wasaail Al-Shi'a, Vol. 6, p. 386.