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Zakat on Camels

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As-salamu ‘alaykum,

My in-laws have a history of herding livestock in Arabia, camels included. Could you please outline the Shafi’i schools position on the zakat of camels? Also, with charts/tables if that isn’t too much to ask. Jazakum Allahu khayran.


Zakat on animals is restricted to livestock, meaning camels, cattle, sheep, and goats. Imam al-Nawawi stated in Minhaj al-Talibin,

إنما تجب منه في النعم وهي الإبل والبقر والغنم

“Zakat is only obligatory on livestock. And livestock is camels, cattle, sheep and goats.” (Minhaj al-Talibin, pg. 26)

The conditions for the obligation of zakat on livestock (in brief)

Four conditions must be found for zakat on livestock to be obligatory:

  1. The livestock must reach the zakat-payable amount (ar: nisab).
  2. One full year must elapse on the nisab (ar: haul).
  3. The livestock must be free grazing.
  4. They are not work animals

(al-Yaqut al-Nafis, pg. 61)

What is given as zakat:

Type: Name: Description:
a Shah A one year old sheep in its second year or a two year old goat in its third year.
b bint makhad A one year old she-camel in its second year
c ibn labun A two year old male camel in its third year
d bint labun A two year old she-camel in its third year
e Hiqqah A three year old she-camel in its fourth year
f jaz’ah A four year old she-camel in its fifth year

What is meant by shah, is a sheep or goat; it is valid to choose either of the two, according to the soundest view [ar: al-asahh]. (Nihayat al-Muhtaj, 3/47). Similarly, it is valid to give a male or female, since the name shah can apply to both. This is as Bafadl mentioned in al-Muqaddimat al-Hadramiyyah,

شاة جذعة أو جذع ضأن له سنة أو ثنية معز أو ثني له سنتان

“A female or male yearling sheep, or a female or male 2 year old goat.”

The conditions of a shah are:

a: that it either be a sheep or goat of the land, equal or more in value.

b. that it be healthy and free from defects. (Bushra al-Karim, 2/481)

Regarding the second condition, Imam al-Nawawi mentioned in Rawdhat al-Talibin,

فرع: الشاة الواجبة في الإبل يشترط كونها صحيحة  وإن كانت الإبل مراضا لأنها في الذمة ثم فيها وجهان  أحدهما وبه قطع كثيرون وهو قول ابن خيران: يؤخذ من المراض صحيحة تليق بها

“Far’: It is a necessary condition of the obligatory shah that it be healthy, even if the camels are ill since the shah is a financial obligation.”

There are two views regarding this:

  1. One takes a healthy shah that befits the ill camels. This is the view of Ibn Khayran and was adopted by the majority.
  2. One gives a healthy shah as one normal would had the camels been healthy.

An example of the first view is as follows:

One has 5 ill camels valued at 50 dirhams, though had they been healthy their value would be 100 and the typical value of the shah one intends to distribute is 6 dirhams. In this instance, one has to distribute one healthy shah valued at 3 dirhams. (Rawdhat al-Talibin, Pg. 246)

The obligation’s conditions (in detail):

1. The nisab

The first condition is that the livestock must reach the nisab:

Imam al-Nawawi mentioned in Minhaj al-Talibin,

“No zakat is due on camels until they reach 5, upon which 1 shah is due. On 10 camels- 2 shahs, on 15 camels-3 shahs, on 20 camels-4 shahs, on 25 camels-1 bint makhad, on 36 camels-1 bint labun, on 46 camels-1 hiqqah, on 61 camels-1 jaz’ah, on 76 camels-2 bint labun, on 91 camels-2 hiqqahs, on 121 camels-3 bint labun and then 1 bint labun for every 40 and one hiqqah for every 50.” (Minhaj al-Talibin, pg.26)

A table illustrating the nisab of camels:

Nisab The obligatory amount to pay
5 1 from type (a)
10 2 from type (a)
15 3 from type (a)
20 4 from type (a)
25 1from type (b) or 1 from (c ) if (b) is unavailable
36 1 from type (d)
46 1 from type (e)
61 1 from type (f)
76 2 from type (d)
91 2 from type (e)
121 3 from type (d)

Issues pertaining to the nisab;

– the zakat on 25 camels is 1 bint makhad though if a bint makhad is unavailable, such as when one does not possess it at the time of distributing zakat, one gives 1 ibn labun. (Mahalli ‘ala al-Minhaj w/Qalyubi. 2/6) It is also valid to give a male camel in its fourth year (ar: hiqqun), since a hiqqun is better than an ibn labun ( Nihayat al-Muhtaj, 3/49, Taqrirat al-Sadidah, pg. 401)

– When unable to distribute the type of camel that is due, one does the following:

1)      (su’ud)- give a camel greater in value than what is due and take 2 shahs or 20 dirhams from the agent in charge of zakat.

2)      (nuzul)-give a camel lesser in value and make up the deficiency by giving 2 shahs or 20 dirhams.

The owner has a choice between su’ud and nuzul and the both the owner and zakat agent have a right to choose between paying 2 shahs or 20 dirhams. (al-Taqrirat al-Sadidah, pg. 400)

* 20 dirhams equal roughly 6.8 grams of silver.

A practical example of the above:

Zaid has 36 camels but does not possess a bint labun, he can either give a hiqqah (su’ud) and take 2 shahs or 20 dirhams or give a bint makhad (nuzul) and pay 2 shahs or 20 dirhams.

– Numbers (O: of camels, cattle, or sheep) which are between zakat quantities (N: I.e. which number more than the last relevant zakat quantity but do not amount to the next highest one) are not counted, and no zakat is due on them. (Reliance of the Traveller, 252)

2. The Haul

The second condition is that one full year passes on the nisab:

Imam al-Nawawi says,

ولوجوب زكاة الماشية شرطان: مضى الحول في ملكه

“Two conditions (in addition to conditions 1 & 4) must be found in order for zakat to be obligatory on livestock: (the first:) that one year pass while the nisab is under one’s ownership.” (Minhaj al-Talibin, pg 27)

If one’s ownership ceases during the haul, then that zakat-year is interrupted. (Rawdhat al-Talibin, pg 260)

There is one exception to the condition of haul and that is the offspring of the nisab. Al-Nawawi says,

لكن ما نتج من نصاب يزكى بحوله

“However, offspring of the nisab are counted for the zakat of the year (their mothers are currently in).” (Minhaj al-Talibin, pg 27, Reliance of the Traveler, pg 252)

Two preconditions must exist in order for the offspring to be included:

  1. That the offspring be born before the end of the zakat year even if only a moment before. When the offspring be born after the haul or before it, but did not fully exit the mother until after the haul, it will be counted for the zakat of the following year.
  2. The offspring are born after their mothers reach the nisab. When one owned less than the nisab and the mothers gave birth, and then reached the nisab, the haul will begin from when the nisab was reached.

When both of these conditions are found, and all or some of the mothers die, and the offspring reach the nisab, then the offspring are counted with the haul of their mothers. (Rawdhat al-Talibin, pg 258, Nihayat al-Muhtaj, 3/64)

3 free grazing

The third condition is that the livestock be free grazing (ar: sa’imah):

Imam al-Nawawi continues;

وكونها سائمة

“And (the second condition) is that the livestock be free grazing.”

Grazing means they have been grazed on open range pasturage (O: open range excluding pasturage growing on land that a person owns (A: as it would then be considered fodder). (Reliance of the Traveler, pg.220)

It is a necessary condition that the owner of the livestock or his agent allows the livestock to graze freely. When the livestock graze on their own, or someone other than the owner allows them to freely graze, zakat will not be binding. (Bushra al-Karim, 2/489-490)

The fuqaha differed over livestock grazed in owned pasturage, are such livestock considered free grazers or stall-fed. al-’Imrani, in al-Bayan, relates two views:

  1. such livestock are considered free-grazing
  2. they are considered stall-fed

The sounder of the two views is that they are free-grazing, meaning that zakat would indeed be obligatory. al-Nawawi holds this view to be sound in Rawdhah as does al-Rafi’i in al-Muharrar. al-Qaffal gave fatwa upon this position and Ibn al-Muqri held it be correct. This is the relied upon position according to al-Khatib and al-Ramli. Al-Bulqini and Sheikh al-Islam in Asna al-Mutalib opted for the second view, a view that he student Ibn Hajar seemed to have upheld and a view that Qalyubi preferred. (Nihayat al-Muhtaj, 3/67, Mughni al-Muhtaj,1/563, Bushra al-Karim, 2/489, Rawdhat al-Talibin, pg.262, , 2/129, Hashiyah Qalyubi, 2/2)

If the livestock are stall-fed for most of the zakat-year then no zakat will be due. However, if they are stall-fed for less than that one must consider: when they are stall-fed for a duration in which they could have survived without incurring a manifest harm had they not be stall-fed, then zakat will be due otherwise it will not. (Minhaj al-Talibin, pg. 27)

Sheikh Nuh Keller says that it is religiously more precautionary and of greater benefit to the poor to follow Imam Malik on this issue, as Malik holds that zakat is obligatory whenever one possesses the nisab for one year whether or not the animals are work animals or have been grazed on open pasturage. (Reliance of the traveller, pg.250)

4. Non-work animals

The fourth and final condition is that the livestock not be work animals:

BaFadl says in al-Muqaddimat al-Hadramiyyah ,

وأن لا تكون عاملة في حرث ونحوه

“And that the livestock not be work animals used for ploughing and the like (such as riding and transport).”

This is the sounder of two views in our school which the majority of ‘Iraqi companions preferred (see Rawdhat al-Talibin, pg.262)

Allah Ta ‘Ala knows best

Answered by: Sidi Mahmud Adams

This answer was collected from Shafiifiqh.com which was a repository of Islamic answers as per the Shafi’i madhhab. The website no longer functions. At its peak, many ‘ulama were involved with the site including Shaykh Mawlana Taha Karaan, Shaykh Abdul-Fattah ibn Abdullah, and Shaykh AbdurRagman Khan.

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