Friday, November 24, 2017 - 6 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439

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My relative owns a piece of land and her husband is handicapped. Is she an eligible beneficiary of zakat?

My relative owns a piece of land and her husband is handicapped. Is she an eligible beneficiary of zakat?

Answer

What may worry people in this question is the fact that your relative owns a piece of land that is worth a considerable amount of money. If she owned the cash value her land, she would be considered rich rather than a recipient of zakat. Indeed, she would be a zakat payer. Should she put her case to people for advice, most will tell her to sell the land and invest its money, ensuring a decent income that suffices her expenses, particularly if she lives in a country where the value of her land represents a large sum of money and would generate an income far in excess of what she may need monthly. But this may not be sound advice. Before she does anything of the sort, she should look into the investment alternatives available to her. I am sure that if she expresses a desire to make better use of the value of the land, many people will offer their services. She should be very careful about how she proceeds because she may lose any money she makes and the land as well. Islam does not require her to sell her land in order to live on the proceeds of the sale. An Islamic state will definitely include her among those deserving help until her situation is sorted out properly, to ensure a good and steady income.

You do not mention whether the land is usable for cultivation, construction or for some other use. If it is farmable land, your relative should look into the possibility of using better methods of agriculture. She may have to invest some money to increase crop productivity. You could help by speaking to bank managers or reliable farmers. The same holds true if the land is usable for construction. Developers may be willing to buy it from her in return for two or three floors in a building, which she could then rent out and live comfortably on the rent she would receive. But she must not make any decision unless she is certain that it serves her interests.

Meanwhile, she deserves to be helped since she does not have an income that meets her needs and those of her family. If she or her husband have a well-off relative who is required to support them in their present circumstances, then he must be made to understand his obligation and fulfill it. If not, she qualifies as a beneficiary of zakat. In addition, her family should try to sort out her affairs so that she can receive the maximum benefit of what she has, such as the land she owns.
And God the Almighty knows best.
 

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