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Khums becomes obligatory (wājib) on seven things, the most common of which is profit from earnings
Ruling 1768. Khums becomes obligatory (wājib) on seven things:
1. Profit from earnings;
3. Treasure troves;
4. Lawful (ḥalāl) property that has become mixed with unlawful (ḥarām) property;
5. Precious stones that are acquired by underwater diving;
6. Spoils of war;
7. Land that a dhimmī1 purchases from a Muslim, based on the well-known (mashhūr) juristic opinion.
The full suite of laws pertaining to khums can be reviewed in more detail in Islamic Laws, the third edition of a high-quality translation of the Tawdih al-Masa’il of His Eminence al-Sayyid Ali al-Sistani (may God protect him).
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The laws (aḥkām) relating to profits from earnings are mentioned in detail below.
Ruling 1769. Whenever a person acquires property by means of trade, industry, or any other form of earning – even if, for example, he performs the prayers (ṣalāh) and keeps the fasts (ṣawm) of a deceased person, and with the wages he receives from that he acquires some property – then, in the event that it exceeds his and his family’s annual living expenses, he must pay khums – i.e. one-fifth – of it in accordance with the instructions that will be mentioned later.
Ruling 1770. If a person acquires property without earning it – for example, he is gifted something – then, with the exception of the cases mentioned in the next ruling, he must pay khums on it provided that it exceeds his living expenses for one year.
Dowry and Inherited Income
Ruling 1771. Khums is not liable on the dowry (mahr) that a wife receives, nor on the property that a husband receives in exchange for a khulʿ divorce,2 nor on blood money (diyah) that one receives.
The same applies to the inheritance that one receives in accordance with those laws of inheritance that are considered valid. Therefore, if a Shia Muslim inherits property in another way, such as by taʿṣīb,3 then the property is considered to be a gain and khums must be paid on it.
Similarly, if a person inherits from an unexpected source that is neither from his father nor his son, then based on obligatory precaution (al-iḥtiyāṭ al-wājib) he must pay khums on the inheritance if it exceeds his living expenses for one year.
Ruling 1772. If a person inherits some property and knows that the person from whom he inherited it did not pay khums on it, he must pay khums on it.
Similarly, if the property itself is not liable for khums but the heir knows that the person from whom he inherited it owed some khums, he must pay khums on it from the deceased’s estate.
However, in both cases, if the person from whom he inherited it did not believe in paying khums or never paid it, then it is not necessary for the heir to pay the khums owed by the deceased.
Ruling 1773. If a person saves money on his living expenses for the year by being frugal, he must still pay khums on it.
Ruling 1774. If a person’s entire living expenses are paid by someone else, he must pay khums on his entire earnings.
Profits from Waqf or Ijarah
Ruling 1775. If someone gives some property to particular persons – for example, he gives his children some property as a charitable endowment (waqf) – in the event that the property is farmed or trees are planted on it, and something is earned from it, and the earnings exceed their living expenses for one year, then those persons must pay khums on the extra earnings.
Similarly, if they profit from the property in some other way – for example, they give it on hire (ijārah) – they must pay khums on the amount that exceeds their living expenses for one year.
Income from Sadaqah and Islamic Taxes
Ruling 1776. If the property that a poor person (faqīr) has received from obligatory charitable payments (ṣadaqah) – such as recompense (kaffārah) and radd al-maẓālim4 – or, if he has received it from recommended (mustaḥabb) ṣadaqah, and if the property exceeds his living expenses for one year or he acquires profit from it – for example, he acquires fruit from a tree that was given to him – and the profit exceeds his living expenses for one year, then based on obligatory precaution he must pay khums on it.
However, if he receives some property as khums or alms tax (zakat), being someone entitled (mustaḥiqq) to receive it, then it is not necessary for him to pay khums on the property itself; but if the profit that accrues from it exceeds his living expenses for one year, then the profit is liable for khums.
Ruling 1777. If a person purchases something with the actual money on which khums has not been paid, i.e. he tells the seller that he is purchasing the item with that money,5 then, in the event that the seller is a Twelver (Ithnā ʿAsharī) Shia, the entire transaction (muʿāmalah) is valid (ṣaḥīḥ), and the item that has been purchased with the money is liable for khums; and there is no need to get authorisation or approval from a fully qualified jurist (al-ḥākim al-sharʿī).
Ruling 1778. If a person purchases something and after agreeing the transaction he pays for it with money on which khums has not been paid,6 the transaction is valid but he will be indebted to those entitled (mustaḥiqqūn) to receive khums for the khums on the money he paid to the seller.
Ruling 1779. If a Twelver Shia Muslim purchases something on which khums has not been paid, the seller is liable for its khums, not the buyer.
Gifts and Property Received
Ruling 1780. If a person gifts something to a Twelver Shia Muslim on which khums has not been paid, the benefactor is liable for its khums, not the beneficiary [but note, as stated in Ruling 1770, if at the end of the year the gift exceeds his living expenses for the year, he must pay khums on it then].
Ruling 1781. If a person acquires some property from a disbeliever (kāfir), or from someone who does not believe in paying khums, or from someone who does not pay khums, it is not obligatory on him to pay khums on it.
Occupations and Profit Incidentally Acquired
Ruling 1782. If a businessman, merchant, craftsman, clerk etc. starts trading or working, then after the passing of one year, he must pay khums on the amount that exceeds his living expenses for the year.
The same applies to a preacher etc., even if his income is earned at certain times of the year, provided that the income is sufficient to meet most of his living expenses for the year.
As for someone who does not have an occupation by which he can earn a living and who receives help from the government or from people, or someone who incidentally acquires some profit, such persons must pay khums on the amount that exceeds their living expenses for the year after one year has passed from the time they acquired the profit. Therefore, [for the purposes of khums] they can calculate a different year for each amount.
Ruling 1783. During the year, a person can pay khums on his profit whenever he acquires it, and it is also permitted (jāʾiz) for him to delay paying khums until the end of the year. However, if he knows that he will not need it until the end of the year, then based on obligatory precaution he must pay khums on it immediately. Furthermore, there is no problem if one adopts the solar year for the payment of khums.
Khums Upon Death
Ruling 1784. If a person makes a profit and he dies during the year, his living expenses until the time of his death must be deducted from the profit, and thereafter khums must be paid immediately on the balance.
Ruling 1785. If the price of a commodity that a person has purchased for the purposes of business rises, and if the person does not sell it and its price falls during the same year, then khums on the amount of increase in the price is not obligatory on him.
Ruling 1786. If the price of a commodity that a person has purchased for the purposes of business rises, and if the person does not sell it until after the year finishes in the hope that the price will rise, and if in actual fact the price falls, then based on obligatory precaution, it is obligatory on him to pay khums on the amount of increase in the price.
Ruling 1787. If a person has purchased property that was not for business and he has paid khums on it, in the event that its price rises and he sells it, he must pay khums on the amount that has increased in price and which exceeds his living expenses for one year.
Similarly, if, for example, a tree bears fruit, or a sheep that is kept for its meat becomes fat, one must pay khums on the excess gain.
Ruling 1788. If a person creates a garden with money on which he has paid khums or which is not liable for khums, and if he wants to sell it after its price appreciates, he must pay khums on the fruits, and on the growth of the trees and shrubs that were already growing or that he planted, and on the dry branches that can be pruned and used, and on the increase in the price of the garden.
However, if his intention is to sell the fruit of the trees and to benefit from their value, then khums is not obligatory on the increase in price and the rest is liable for khums.
Ruling 1789. If a person plants willows, planes, or similar trees, he must pay khums every year on their growth. Similarly, the branches of trees that are usually pruned every year, if [they are sold and the income] exceeds his living expenses for one year, he must pay khums on them.
Ruling 1790. A person who has a number of lines of business – for example, with his capital he has bought [and trades in] sugar and rice – in the event that all the lines of his business are the same in business matters such as income and outcome, book keeping, and profit and loss, he must pay khums on the amount that exceeds his living expenses for one year.
In the event that he gains profit from one line and a loss from another, he can offset the loss from that line with the profit from the other.
However, if he has two different lines of business – for example, he trades as well as farms – or, if he has one line of business but the profit and loss are calculated separately from each other, then in these two cases, he cannot, based on obligatory precaution, offset the loss of one with the profit of the other.
Ruling 1791. A person can deduct from his profit the living expenses he incurs in making profit – such as brokerage and transportation costs – and the same applies to any damage done to his tools and equipment, and it is not necessary for him to pay khums on that amount.
Spending Beyond One’s Status
Ruling 1792. The amount a person spends from his profit during the year on food, clothing, furniture, the purchase of a house, the wedding of his son, the trousseau of his daughter, ziyārah,7 and suchlike, is not liable for khums provided that the amount spent is not beyond his status.
Huqooq Payments and Gifts/Prizes Given
Ruling 1793. The amount one spends on a vow (nadhr) and kaffārah is considered to be part of his annual living expenses.
Similarly, property that one gives to someone as a gift or prize is also considered to be part of his annual living expenses provided that it is not beyond his status.
Ruling 1794. If it is common practice [where the person lives] for a person to acquire the trousseau for his daughter gradually over a number of years, and if he does not acquire the trousseau it would be unbefitting of his status – albeit because he was unable to acquire it all at the required time – and if during the year he purchases some of the trousseau from the profit of that year and his purchases do not exceed his status, and if gathering that amount in one year would be commonly considered to be part of his normal annual expenditure, in such a case, it is not obligatory on him to pay khums on it. However, if his purchases exceed his status or he acquires the trousseau next year from the profit of the current year, then he must pay khums on it.
Hajj and Ziyarah Expenses
Ruling 1795. The expenses incurred for hajj and other ziyārahs are considered to be part of one’s living expenses for the year; and if his journey is prolonged until part of the following year, he must pay khums on what he spends [from the previous year’s profits] in the second year.
Owning Property on which Khums is not Obligatory
Ruling 1796. With regard to someone who has earned profit from trade, business, or other means, if he owns some other property on which khums is not obligatory, he can calculate his living expenses for the year only from the profit he has earned.
Surplus to Needs
Ruling 1797. If the provisions that a person purchases from his profit of the year are surplus to his needs at the end of the year, he must pay khums on them. And in the event that he wants to pay its monetary value instead, then, if it has increased since the time he bought the provisions, he must calculate the khums based on the price at the end of the year.
Items No Longer Needed
Ruling 1798. If before paying khums a person purchases household furniture with the profit earned by him, it is not necessary for him to pay khums on the items if they are no longer needed after the year end.
Similarly, the items are not liable for khums if they are not needed during the year provided that they are items that are usually kept for succeeding years, such as winter and summer clothes. Apart from these types of items, if they are not needed during the year, the obligatory precaution is that one must pay khums on them.
As for the jewellery of a woman who no longer uses them for adornment, it is not liable for khums.
Year on Year
Ruling 1799. If a person does not make any profit in a year, he cannot deduct his expenses for that year from the profit he makes in the following year.
Ruling 1800. If a person does not make any profit at the beginning of a year and spends out of his capital but then makes some profit before the year’s end, he can deduct the amount he had taken from his capital from the profit he earned.
Ruling 1801. If part of one’s capital is lost in business and similar activities, he can deduct the lost amount from the profit made in the same year.
Ruling 1802. If some property other than one’s capital is lost and he needs that item in the same year, he can acquire it during the year from his profit and it is not liable for khums.
Ruling 1803. If a person does not make a profit at the end of a year and borrows money in order to meet his living expenses, he cannot deduct the borrowed amount from the profit made by him in succeeding years and thereby not pay khums on the profit.
However, if he borrows money during the year in order to meet his living expenses and he makes a profit before the year’s end, he can deduct the borrowed amount from his profit.
Similarly, in the first case, he can repay the borrowed amount from gains made during the year and that amount is not liable for khums.
Ruling 1804. If a person borrows money in order to increase his wealth or to purchase something that he does not need, and if he repays the loan from the profit he acquires in that year without paying khums, he must pay khums on the property after the arrival of the khums year unless the money that he borrowed or the item that he purchased from the loan money perishes during the year.
Paying with Items
Ruling 1805. A person can pay the khums of an item that is liable for khums from the item itself, or he can pay the monetary value of the khums that has become obligatory. However, if he wants to give something else on which khums has not become obligatory, then this is problematic (maḥall al-ishkāl) [i.e. based on obligatory precaution, he cannot do this],8 unless he does so with authorisation from a fully qualified jurist.
Right of Disposal
Ruling 1806. If a person’s property becomes liable for khums and a year has passed, he cannot have disposal over that property until he pays khums on it.
Ruling 1807. A person who owes khums cannot take responsibility for it – meaning that he cannot regard himself as being indebted to those entitled to receive it – yet still have disposal over his entire wealth.
And in the event that he uses the wealth and it is lost, [not only will he have committed a sin but he will still be deemed responsible and] he must pay khums on it.
Ruling 1808. If a person who owes khums makes an interchange settlement9 with a fully qualified jurist and takes responsibility for it, he can have disposal over his entire property; and the profit he earns from it afterwards belongs to him; he must, however, gradually repay the debt in a manner that is not careless.
Ruling 1809. If a person who is a partner with someone else pays khums on his profit but his partner does not, and in the following year his partner offers his property on which khums has not been paid as capital for the partnership, the first partner – supposing he is a Twelver Shia – can have disposal over the joint property.
Minor and Guardian
Ruling 1810. If a child who is a minor (ṣaghīr) acquires some profit, albeit from gifts, and if during the year the profit is not used for the child’s living expenses, it becomes liable for khums and it is obligatory on the guardian (walī) of the child to pay khums on it.
In the event that the guardian does not pay it, it is obligatory on the child to pay khums on it after he reaches the age of legal responsibility (i.e. becomes bāligh).
Disposal Over Unpaid Items
Ruling 1811. If a person who acquires property doubts (i.e. has a shakk) whether the former owner has paid khums on it or not, he can still have disposal over the property. In fact, even if the new owner is certain (i.e. he has yaqīn) that the former owner has not paid khums on it, then, if the former owner is someone who does not pay khums and the new owner is a Twelver Shia, he can have disposal over it.
Purchases with Profit Earned
Ruling 1812. If a person purchases something with the profit earned by him during the year, and if the item cannot be considered to be necessary and part of his living expenses for a year, it is obligatory on him to pay khums on it at the end of the year.
In the event that he does not pay khums on it and the value of the property increases, he must pay khums on its current value.
Purchases with Unpaid Money
Ruling 1813. If a person purchases something with money on which khums has not been paid for a year [as a non-specified undertaking, which is explained in the first footnote pertaining to Ruling 807], and if its price increases, then, in the event that he did not intend to buy the item as an investment and to sell it when its price increases – for example, he purchases land for farming [and not to sell once its price increases] – he must pay khums on the purchase price. However, if, for example, he gives the seller the actual money on which khums has not been paid and tells him that he is purchasing the item with that money,10 then he must pay khums on the current value of the item.
Ruling 1814. If someone has not paid khums from the time he became legally obliged to fulfil religious duties, or if he has not paid khums for a period of time – for example, a number of years – then, if during the year he purchases something that he does not need from profit made by trading and one year passes from the time he started trading – or, if he is not a trader and one year passes from the time he made the profit – he must pay khums on the item.
However, if he purchases household furniture and other items that he needs in accordance with his status, it is not necessary for him to pay khums on them provided that he knows that he purchased them during the year in which he made a profit, and he purchased them with the same year’s profit, and he used them in the same year.
And if he does not know this, then based on obligatory precaution he must arrive at a settlement (muṣālaḥah) with a fully qualified jurist on an amount that is proportionate to the probability; for example, if he deems it 50% probable that khums on the items is obligatory, then he must pay khums on that 50%.
1 Dhimmīs are People of the Book (ahl al-kitāb) – i.e. Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians – who have entered into a dhimmah treaty, i.e. an agreement that gives them rights as protected subjects in an Islamic state.
2 This is a divorce that takes place at the insistence of a wife and in which she pays an agreed sum to her husband.
3 This is a matter of inheritance that is common among Sunni Muslims but invalid from a Shi‘i perspective. [Author]
4 Radd al-maẓālim refers to giving back property – which has been unrightfully or unknowingly taken – to its rightful owner, or if that is not possible, to the poor as ṣadaqah on behalf of the rightful owner.
5 This is known as a ‘specified’ (shakhṣī) purchase. See the second footnote pertaining to Ruling 807.
6 This is referring to a type of purchase that is known as a ‘non-specified undertaking’. See the first footnote pertaining to Ruling 807.
7 Ziyārah is a visitation to the place of burial of a holy personality or to a holy place.
8 As mentioned in Ruling 6, the term ‘problematic’ (maḥall al-ishkāl) amounts to saying that the ruling is based on obligatory precaution.
9 Here, the fully qualified jurist takes the khums from the person who owes it and then returns it to him as a loan. In this way, the person who owes khums can have disposal over his property.
10 This is known as a ‘specified’ (shakhṣī) purchase. See the second footnote pertaining to Ruling 807.