Can a Person’s Zakat Date Change? Is Zakat Due Before Puberty? [Shafi’i]

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

1. Once a person’s zakat date is fixed, can it ever change?

2. Before puberty I used to find offers online for free pay-as-you go sim cards which used to sell for £10 in shops. Would zakat be necessary on the value of these sim cards before puberty?

Answer: Assalāmu ʿalaykum,

I pray that you are well.

Fixing a Zakat Date

A person’s zakat date, that is, the date upon which they must pay zakat, can change. This is because the zakat date is tied to a person’s owning for the year a minimum balance (the nisab value). A person starts calculating the year once they have gained this minimum balance, and must hold it for a year. If at any point they dip below this value, the calculation breaks, and restarts anew when they regain this minimum. Because of this, the zakat date can vary year to year.

In your case, your zakat obligation would have ceased when you dipped below the minimum amount. When you regained the minimum amount (such as through gifts), you would start calculating the year. Once a year has elapsed with you holding that minimum amount, you would be obligated to pay zakat. That is, you would not be obligated to pay zakat on the monetary gifts you received immediately; you would do so after a year of holding the minimum amount.

Transactions Prior to Puberty

There is no zakat on merchandise a person holds prior to puberty. That is because the school does not give any weight to a person’s intentions prior to puberty, intention being critical in determining whether zakat applies to merchandise.

After puberty, zakat would be obligatory on these goods, so long as a person has the intention to engage in trade, and the value of the merchandise is at the minimum set value at the end of the year. The calculation of the year breaks when one changes their mind and decides not to engage in trade.

Shuaib Ally