Zakat on the property of a minor
We reviewed request no. 1458 for the year 2005 which includes the following:
I was appointed guardian over my nephew who owns a sum of money deposited in one of the banks. I approached the Probate Court for permission to withdraw a sum from my nephew's account to pay his zakat on property but was asked to present them with a fatwa on its permissibility.
The majority of scholars have maintained that zakat is obligatory on the property of a minor. Since it is a right enjoined on the property itself, it is not waived by the ward's young age. His guardian must pay it on his behalf.
Scholars have based their opinion on the evidence derived from the general implication of primary texts on the obligation of zakat on property which has reached nisab (minimum amount upon which zakat is owned) and which has been in a person's possession for one lunar year. Allah the Almighty says,
Take, oh Muhammad, from their properties, charity in order to cleanse and purify them. [At-Tauba: 103]
- When the Prophet sent Mu'adh Ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him) to Yemen, he told him, "Inform them that Allah has commanded them to pay charity on their property; it is to be taken from the rich from among them and given to their poor" [Muslim].
- Since poor minors are poor are eligible to receive zakat, they must likewise pay it if they are wealthy. Scholars have relied on Al-Shafi'i's report through Yusuf Ibn Mahak who narrated that the Prophet said, "Invest the funds of orphans so that they may not be consumed by zakat."
- Al-Tabarani wrote in Al-Mu'gam Al-Awsat that Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet said, "Trade with the funds of orphans lest they be depleted by zakat" [Al-'Iraqi, the hadith scholar, declared it authentic].
- 'Amr Ibn Shu'aib reported from his father who reported from his grandfather that the Prophet said, "Whoever is entrusted with the money of an orphan, is to trade in it lest it be consumed by zakat" [At-Tirmidhi].
Had not zakat been obligatory on the property of a minor, it would not have been permissible for a guardian to pay it from his charge's wealth since he is not allowed to spend his money or make donations from it towards non-obligatory matters. For this reason, the Prophetcommanded guardians to invest the property of minors so they would not be consumed by the zakat owed on them. This opinion was authentically reported from 'Umar, 'Ali, Ibn 'Umar, 'A`isha and Jaber Ibn 'Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with them). It has not been reported that any of the Companions contested their opinion on this matter except for one weak report from Ibn 'Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) that is not used as evidence.
This is the opinion that most conforms to the legislation of zakat in Islam as a financial obligation payable to its deserving recipients. This is based on the words of Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) who said, "Zakat is a financial obligation on one's property." Moreover, since minors must also fulfill the rights of Allah's servants with regards to their properties, a minor's guardian is responsible for compensating any sum he loses from his ward's funds.
Zakat is obligatory on a minor's property and his guardian pays it on his behalf from the former's wealth. It is a condition that the funds exceed the minor's expenses and basic needs, it must reach nisab, and one year passes over its possession. The value of zakat is one quarter of a tenth i.e. 2.5% of the property's worth.
Allah the Almighty knows best.
 This is a mursal authentic hadith that is strengthened by the general implication of the above mentioned textual evidences, through its chains of transmission. The same hadith was mentioned as a mawquf authentic hadith from 'Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him). A mursal hadith is one whose chain of transmission only goes up to a successor without including a Companion of the Prophet. A mawquf hadith includes the words of a Companion of the Prophet without ascribing it to the Prophet.