Deducting vows from zakat
The inquirer deposited 500,000 EGP in Faisal Bank with the intention of fulfilling some vows which he had pledged to make if Allah delivers him from his troubles. These include:
1. Slaughtering an animal worth 5000 EGP and distributing its meat among the poor and the destitute;
2. Giving out 600 EGP;
3. He built two charity graves for 20,000 EGP, one for men and the other for women from among poor Muslims;
4. He pledged to pay 30, 000 EGP towards a 'umra for himself and his three daughters;
5. He contributed 8, 000 EGP towards building a mosque;
6. He donated 7, 000 EGP to cancer patients; 2, 000 EGP to an orphanage; and 3, 000 EGP to the poor and the destitute.
The inquirer requests a clarification of the ruling on the following:
• Whether the above mentioned sums are counted from his zakat on wealth;
• Whether they are counted from his zakat for more than one lunar year;
• The amount of zakat on the sum deposited in the bank which is 500,000 EGP.
A vow is what a person willingly obligates upon himself such as performing acts of worship or sadaqat (either as a voluntary or communally obligatory act). The legal premises for this are the words of Allah the Almighty in praise of those who fulfill their vows, They perform (their) vows, and they fear a Day whose evil flies far and wide.[Al-Insan: 7]
The Prophet also said, "Whoever makes a vow that entails obeying Allah, then let him obey Him (i.e. fulfill his vow); and whoever makes a vow that entails disobeying Him, let him not disobey Him (i.e. should not fulfill his vow)" [Bukhari, Abu Dawud, Al-Tirmidhi, Al-Nisa`i and Ibn Majah].
Kinds of vows
Vows are of two kinds: Vows made to draw close to Allah and vows made out of anger and disputation. It is clear from the question that the inquirer's vow is of the first kind and that he made his vow conditional upon gaining good and warding off evil, which is the settlement of his debts.
This kind of vow is valid and therefore must be fulfilled due to the words of Allah the Almighty Who says, Amongst them are men who made a covenant with Allah, that if He bestowed on them of His bounty; they would give (largely) in charity, and be truly amongst those who are righteous.But when He did bestow of His bounty, they became covetous, and turned back (from their covenant), averse (from its fulfillment). So He hath put as a consequence hypocrisy into their hearts, (to last) till the Day, whereon they shall meet Him: because they broke their covenant with Allah, and because they lied (again and again). [At-Tauba: 75-77]
These verses express Allah's censure and punishment to those who do not fulfill their vows.
Vows vs. zakat
Anything spent in fulfillment of a vow is not counted from one's zakat on wealth. This is because a vow is what a person willingly imposes upon himself, choosing its amount and manner of execution. This contrasts with zakat which is an obligation ordained by Allah upon His servants and whose amount and kind are determined by Him.
- The inquirer's vow to slaughter an animal worth 5000 EGP, distribute 600 EGP among the poor, and pay 30,000 EGP towards a 'umra for himself and his three daughters are not to be counted from his zakat on wealth.
- The cost of building the two graves and the sum contributed towards building a mosque, are not calculated from his zakat; rather, they are considered either a sadaqah [voluntary alms] or a charitable and voluntary act.
- If at the time the inquirer paid the money to the cancer patients, the orphanage and the poor and the destitute, his intention was that they be from his zakat, then they are considered as such and counted from his zakat on wealth for the coming years. This is because, there is no objection to paying zakat two years in advance.
- The zakat on the money deposited in the bank is 2.5% of the sum present in the bank account at the end each lunar year when it reaches nisab [minimum sum upon which zakat is due].
Allah the Almighty knows best.