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In the Name of God بسم الله
Renaissance_Man

How Fair Is The System Of Khums Today?

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Salaams,

 

This is something that's been on my mind recently and I'd like to hear what others have to say about it.  As Shias, we are required to pay 20% khums on our annual income after expenses. A sizeable amount compared other other Islamic taxes.  Of that, half goes towards supporting the religious centers of learning, building mosques, and other charitable causes.  The other half goes to needy sayyids.  At the same time, we are not obligated to pay zakat on our income per the rulings of most scholars today.  Zakat as most of you know is on certain non-monetary things like cattle, sheep, gold, and silver.  Khums on the other hand is on all forms of wealth and income.  So say a person makes $100000/year and manages to save $40000 of it.  He would then owe $8000 in khums but no zakat is due.

 

This strikes me as being somewhat unbalanced.  We effectively pay 10% of our income to needy sayyids, but what about the needy amongst non-sayyids?  Considering that they aren't even receiving the 2.5% zakat that was intended for the poor at large, if we only paid wajib alms, technically they would receive next to nothing.  It seems the amount we're required to give in charity to sayyids is disproportionally larger than what's doled out to non-sayyids especially when there are a lot more of them.  I know some people will point to sadaqa and other charity that non-sayyids receive but sayyids can also receive mustahib alms so that's really a moot point.  Besides, mustahib charity is just that and a person isn't obligated to give it.

 

Another question might be raised here, do the needy amongst the sayyids even need half of the khums?  When I think about it, 20% of the wealth of the entire ummah is a HUGE sum of money.  Certainly there is a share in it that belongs to the sayyids, but you will very likely wind up with a large surplus.  It's interesting that even the late Imam Khomeini wondered the same thing in his book Hukumati Islamia:

 

 

 

For example, khums is a huge source of income that accrues to the treasury and represents one item in the budget. According to our Shi'i school of thought, khums is to be levied in an equitable manner on all agricultural and commercial profits and all natural resources whether above or below the ground - in short, on all forms of wealth and income. It applies equally to the green grocer with his stall outside this mosque and to the shipping or mining magnate. They must all pay one-fifth of their surplus income, after customary expenses are deducted, to the Islamic ruler so that it enters the treasury. It is obvious that such a huge income serves the purpose of administering the Islamic state and meeting all its financial needs. If we were to calculate one-fifth of the surplus income of all the Muslim countries (or of the whole world, should it enter the fold of Islam), it would become fully apparent that the purpose for the imposition of such a tax is not merely the upkeep of the sayyids33 or the religious scholars, but on the contrary, something far more significant - namely, meeting the financial needs of the great organs and institutions of government. If an Islamic government is achieved, it will have to be administered on the basis of the taxes that Islam has established - khums, zakat (this, of course, would not represent an appreciable sum)34 jizya, and kharaj. 



How could the sayyids ever need so vast a budget? The khums of the bazaar of Baghdad would be enough for the needs of the sayyids and the upkeep of the religious teaching institution, as well as the poor of the Islamic world, quite apart from the khums of the bazaars of Tehran, Istanbul, Cairo, and other cities. The provision of such a huge budget must obviously be for the purpose of forming a government and administering the Islamic lands. It was established with the aim of providing for the needs of the people, for public services relating .to health, education, defense, and economic development. Further, in accordance with the procedures laid down by Islam for the collection, preservation, and expenditure of this income, all forms of usurpation and embezzlement of public wealth have been forbidden, so that the head of state and all those entrusted with responsibility for conducting public affairs (i.e., members of the government) have no privileges over the ordinary citizen in benefiting from the public income and wealth; all have an equal share. 




Now, should we cast this huge treasury into the ocean, or bury it until the Imam returns, or just spend it on fifty sayyids a day until they have all eaten their fill? Let us suppose we give all this money to 500,000 sayyids; they would not know what to do with it. We all know that the sayyids and the poor have a claim on the public treasury only to the extent required for subsistence. The budget of the Islamic state is constructed in such a way that every source of income is allocated to specific types of expenditures. Zakat, voluntary contributions and charitable donations, and khums are all levied and spent separately. There is a hadith to the effect that at the end of the year, sayyids must return any surplus from what they have received to the Islamic ruler, just as the ruler must aid them if they are in need.

 

 

Now before anyone accuses me of being anti-sayyid or anti-khums (I'm neither and duly pay my share every year) - I understand the reason why khums was instituted in the first place.  The Prophet (saw) established zakat (required) sadawa, kharaj, and jizaya for the poor and didn't take a single dirham for him and his family.  This was to avoid accusations of conflict of interest.  So Allah ÓÈÍÇäå æÊÚÇáì instituted khums to provide a share for the needy amongst the Prophet's descendants.  Back then it made sense because zakat and other charity were actively collected from all Muslims and along with khums, this provided a means existed to aid all needy Muslims.  But today it appears that with zakat becoming all but obsolete, perhaps the maraje need to reexamine the laws of zakat and khums to ensure that charity is distributed equally and equitably to all needy momins.

 

Thoughts?

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^

 

Sure, but it would be the same as paying zakat on currency.  As long as both zakat and khums are being collected, it will bring parity to alms distribution.  Given that the banking system across the word uses paper money and won't be returning to gold & silver anytime soon, it would be easier to make zakat on currency wajib.

 

The late Ayatullah Fadlullah was the only marja who recognized this and ruled zakat payable on all forms of money.  Hopefully with time, other scholars will do the same and bring the Islamic taxation rules up to date.

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Salaams,

 

This is something that's been on my mind recently and I'd like to hear what others have to say about it.  As Shias, we are required to pay 20% khums on our annual income after expenses. A sizeable amount compared other other Islamic taxes.  Of that, half goes towards supporting the religious centers of learning, building mosques, and other charitable causes.  The other half goes to needy sayyids.  At the same time, we are not obligated to pay zakat on our income per the rulings of most scholars today.  Zakat as most of you know is on certain non-monetary things like cattle, sheep, gold, and silver.  Khums on the other hand is on all forms of wealth and income.  So say a person makes $100000/year and manages to save $40000 of it.  He would then owe $8000 in khums but no zakat is due.

 

This strikes me as being somewhat unbalanced.  We effectively pay 10% of our income to needy sayyids, but what about the needy amongst non-sayyids?  Considering that they aren't even receiving the 2.5% zakat that was intended for the poor at large, if we only paid wajib alms, technically they would receive next to nothing.  It seems the amount we're required to give in charity to sayyids is disproportionally larger than what's doled out to non-sayyids especially when there are a lot more of them.  I know some people will point to sadaqa and other charity that non-sayyids receive but sayyids can also receive mustahib alms so that's really a moot point.  Besides, mustahib charity is just that and a person isn't obligated to give it.

 

Another question might be raised here, do the needy amongst the sayyids even need half of the khums?  When I think about it, 20% of the wealth of the entire ummah is a HUGE sum of money.  Certainly there is a share in it that belongs to the sayyids, but you will very likely wind up with a large surplus.  It's interesting that even the late Imam Khomeini wondered the same thing in his book Hukumati Islamia:

 

 

 

 

Now before anyone accuses me of being anti-sayyid or anti-khums (I'm neither and duly pay my share every year) - I understand the reason why khums was instituted in the first place.  The Prophet (saw) established zakat (required) sadawa, kharaj, and jizaya for the poor and didn't take a single dirham for him and his family.  This was to avoid accusations of conflict of interest.  So Allah ÓÈÍÇäå æÊÚÇáì instituted khums to provide a share for the needy amongst the Prophet's descendants.  Back then it made sense because zakat and other charity were actively collected from all Muslims and along with khums, this provided a means existed to aid all needy Muslims.  But today it appears that with zakat becoming all but obsolete, perhaps the maraje need to reexamine the laws of zakat and khums to ensure that charity is distributed equally and equitably to all needy momins.

 

Thoughts?

 

Salaam brother,

Your question is a difficult question and made me think and ask others for a couple of days. Eventually this is the answer that I found, and I find it quite acceptable. Share any further question.

 

First of all, not all of Maraji and ulama have this ruling that exactly half of the khums should be passed to sayyids. Some say that it must be given to the Wali and he is the responsible of contributing it to its owners, with the ratio that he finds appropriate.

Likewise, not all of maraji and ulama have the same ruling about zakat being on only those 9 types of goods.There are some who say that it should be given from any type of property.

 

Anyway, most of the ulama have this famous ruling about khums and zakat. But what is important about khums is that it should be completely paid to the marja and it can’t be paid directly to the sayyids. Considering that we realized that the mentioned ruling about the half of khums isn’t absolute. It applies as long as there is a needy sayyid available. And in case there is no needy sayyid, the marja will decide how to spend the rest of it.

 

What you quoted from Imam Khomeini also refers to this same meaning. He mentions this point to prove that what could remain of khums is a big amount of properties and there should be an Islamic government for it to make sense.

 

And so that you know that there’s no injustice in this system against the non-sayyids, I heard a hadith from this ‘alim that answered my question. He said that one of the Imams in reply to a question about the ratio of zakat being too small for the poor in the society, said that if the zakat of the people were going to be paid completely, there wouldn't have remained a single poor person on Earth.

 

So to sum up:

1.    The question will not be true according to a few maraji’.

2.    The zakat is already enough for all the poor and needy.

3.    After the need of poor sayyids is paid from khums, it is for marja’ to decide how to use the rest.

 

(As everyone says around here) Hope this helps!  :)

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Here's a radical idea:  should the khums not be replaced by the state tax in the present age? It ultimately serves the same ends. How does it make sense to pay income tax and then khums on top of your dispoable income? You'd hardly have enough money left, rendering yourself endlessly poor.

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Here's a radical idea:  should the khums not be replaced by the state tax in the present age? It ultimately serves the same ends. How does it make sense to pay income tax and then khums on top of your dispoable income? You'd hardly have enough money left, rendering yourself endlessly poor.

 

This IS radical but not unheard of. Khums and tax have completely different purposes. Tax is the money that you pay your government for giving you services as a citizen. Khums is the part of one's income that belongs to Allah, his prophet, and the waliy, and also the poor people among the descendants of the prophet, as a reward for providing us with the guidance and helping us with Akhirah which is the main goal of our lives. And this is their part that Allah has given them, and it's not possible to change or dismiss it.

Also it is the key to financial success according to some hadiths.

 

And we have to consider the fact that it is not going to give us a hard time to pay khums, since it is given once a year is one fifth of the money that is left for a person after a complete year of spending his income. So to be exact, it is not one fifth of your income, but way less than that.

 

So, forget it and pay your khums -just like I do- and don't worry about becoming poor, there is always the dua of your Imam after you and that will lead to your success and prosperity.

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This IS radical but not unheard of. Khums and tax have completely different purposes. Tax is the money that you pay your government for giving you services as a citizen. Khums is the part of one's income that belongs to ... and also the poor people among the descendants of the prophet, as a reward for providing us with the guidance and helping us with Akhirah which is the main goal of our lives. 

 

Problem: the under privileged descendants do not provide us with guidance, or help us in our afterlife. It seems rather pointless to arbitrarily treat a minority with special treatment solely due to their lineage. It's like a perpetual inheritance tax that strangers have to pay, which I find highly odd.

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Problem: the under privileged descendants do not provide us with guidance, or help us in our afterlife. It seems rather pointless to arbitrarily treat a minority with special treatment solely due to their lineage. It's like a perpetual inheritance tax that strangers have to pay, which I find highly odd.

 

I explained in post #6 that not all of khums goes to the poor sayyids. They only get the money as long as they are in need, just the way other poor people get the money from zakat.

The only difference is that the family of our prophet get to have their help from a difference source, in order to pay more respect to the prophet.

 

The rest of khums, of course, goes to the Imam or his substitute, to be spent on empowering religion and religious government.

Still problem?

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Bro. Salman Haqiqi,

 

Thanks for your informative responses in this thread.  The part about the excess from Sahm-e-Sadaat being reappropriated by the marja for other causes makes sense and is along the lines of what Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi says in his book:

 

http://www.al-islam.org/180-questions-about-islam-vol-1-practical-laws-makarim-shirazi/khums

Thirdly, if the share of the sadat, which is one half of the khums, happens to exceed the needs of the sadat actually present, this surplus should be put into the public treasury to be put to other uses. On the contrary, if that portion is insufficient to fulfil their requirements then they must be provided for, either from the public treasury or from the zakat.

 

 

 

So this is what should happen in theory, but how does it work in practice?  Some of the widely followed maraje in the world like Sistani and Kahmenei have collected billions of dollars in khums.  Does anyone even know how much of the sahm-e-sadaat is actually given to the needy and what's done with the leftover funds?  I suppose that highlights one of the problems with the system of khums in place today.  There is no transparency or accounting for where the money goes or how its spent.

 

You mentioned that the non-sayyids amongst the poor receive their money from zakat but this is again something that for the most part doesn't exist today.  Zakat, as understood by ulema today, is not levied on wealth - but on cattle, crops, and gold/silver currency.  Consequently most people end up paying nothing in zakat leaving little to no means of assistance for the majority of the poor in the ummah unless they resort to receiving zakat from the Sunnis.  It's hard to believe that zakat - a pillar of our faith and the second most important ibadat after prayer - has all but become obsolete today.

 

Again, our ulema need to do something to correct this imbalance.  Updating the laws of zakat to include cash, just like we do with khums, would be a start.  Transparency in the collection and expenditure of khums would help bring to light how the funds are being used today and where they might be best allocated.

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Salam;

I think Both KHums as well as Zakat  are to be paid by Ummah to keep balance between poor and wealthy, and what is associated to these two has nothing to do with taxes, this is another case one should not confused it with Neither KHums nor Zakat.

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Bro. Salman Haqiqi,

 

Thanks for your informative responses in this thread.  The part about the excess from Sahm-e-Sadaat being reappropriated by the marja for other causes makes sense and is along the lines of what Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi says in his book:

 

 

 

So this is what should happen in theory, but how does it work in practice?  Some of the widely followed maraje in the world like Sistani and Kahmenei have collected billions of dollars in khums.  Does anyone even know how much of the sahm-e-sadaat is actually given to the needy and what's done with the leftover funds?  I suppose that highlights one of the problems with the system of khums in place today.  There is no transparency or accounting for where the money goes or how its spent.

 

You mentioned that the non-sayyids amongst the poor receive their money from zakat but this is again something that for the most part doesn't exist today.  Zakat, as understood by ulema today, is not levied on wealth - but on cattle, crops, and gold/silver currency.  Consequently most people end up paying nothing in zakat leaving little to no means of assistance for the majority of the poor in the ummah unless they resort to receiving zakat from the Sunnis.  It's hard to believe that zakat - a pillar of our faith and the second most important ibadat after prayer - has all but become obsolete today.

 

Again, our ulema need to do something to correct this imbalance.  Updating the laws of zakat to include cash, just like we do with khums, would be a start.  Transparency in the collection and expenditure of khums would help bring to light how the funds are being used today and where they might be best allocated.

 

Salam brother,

Thank you for your kind words. 

 

About the transparency of khums payment, I can think of two reasons for it being applied: 

  1. Maraji' before becoming a marja', spend a long term of teaching and studying which is accompanied by a strict surveillance by their students and colleagues, and when they are approved by them, they start to be followed -- and it's the beginning of being a marja'.
  2. This surveillance gets more and more strict by others as well and they get unknowingly checked about how they use the money they receive. 

And don't worry, they try to pay as many sayyids as possible, although it's not always easy to locate poor sayyids, especially out of Iran and Iraq.

 

And about zakat, I have to say, that although not many of people can pay it nowadays, the people who pay it pay it big! They sometimes pay hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of goods and sometimes millions. So we shouldn't think that because farming and keeping cattle and sheep is not a common job, it means that it does not exist anymore.

 

And to correct the imbalance, we have to pay our obligatory payments, and encourage others to do so. Allah Himself has so much that will balance the sources for sayyids.

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salamun alaykum

 

lets get some facts straight

first of all, the maraje are doing us a favour in taking the burdens of khums off our shoulders

secondly, only sehm al-imam a.s. has to be paid to them or their wukala

sehm al-sadah can be paid directly to sayyids who are poor, and that is mainly what happens around the world, and there are still poor sayyids around

thirdly, a lot of sehm al-imam a.s. is paid to the poor and destitute.

fourthly, there are two types of zakat: zakat al-maal and zakat al-fitrah, and the latter is paid by many sayyids and non-sayyids alike, and this money goes for the feeding of many poor people, as well as other shar'i funds like fidya and kaffara.

sixthly, please do not be so presumptious about the usage of khums

finally, transparency is not required when the money isnt yours. transparency is only if its your money in the hands of people who you dont trust. we are not 'investing' money with them. if you dont trust the system dont pay the money, and its less burden on them. you can do as you please with it and be answerable to Allah.

also, the perception of the lack of zakat payment amongst the shias is really exaggerated. there are plenty of people who pay zakat, and they are paid directly to the poor and needy in locality or amongst relatives.

 

we should only be concerned with whats on our shoulders.

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My personal experience, my family along with the entire community of sayyids became refugees after the Taliban took over Afghanistan and we fled to Pakistan, we barely had enough to eat, i remember going to bed hungry sometimes when i was around 6 or 7 years old. but I don't remember any one of us receiving khums. even though my father was the judge, teacher and protector of our community, my uncles were all teachers and everyone came to them for guidance on Islamic laws, instead of receiving khums my father had to go to Iran and began his own trade with which he helped all the needy in our community.

 

So from my experience even sayyids aren't receiving their share, other wise not a single sayyid would be in poverty. as for zakat, what my brother said, if the Muslim community give 10% of their annual income there won't be any poor muslims.

 

The reason why I live in the UK now is because the Islamic countries are too poor to give refugees a place to stay, even if they are Muslims and sayyids.

 

So, rest assured the khums you are giving is being used in a smart manner rather than giving it to the sayyids to spend.

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