On What Should Khums be paid?
Khums is payable on all kinds or private
property, except few, and whether they are earned through the
individual's effort and toil, or those that came his way without
any effort. Of the first type is what man earns by hiring
himself, or working in agriculture, trade, war, mining… etc. Of
the second type is what man acquires by way of gift, will, and
inheritance. Khums should be payable by the covenanted
non-Muslim on land bought from a Muslim as an exceptional case
in such transactions. It should also be levied on the property
tainted with illicit gains for the purpose of purifying it and
rendering it permissible to dispose of.
Since much of the details are dedicated to
the Khums that is levied on gains, we are going to
discuss these under two titles; the first will cover matters
which are not related to what becomes left over and above man's
yearly expenses, such as spoils, metal, treasure troves, what is
acquired through diving, money tainted with illicit gains, and
land bought by a covenanted non-Muslim from a Muslim. These
kinds of property are unique, in that you do not need to wait
for one year, as in the case of ordinary gains, to pay Khums
on it. It is obligatory hasten to do so as soon as it has been
acquired, even if it is not surplus to one's provisions.
In the second, we will discuss ordinary
gains, which come about by way of earning a living, and which
may yield surplus to one's yearly provisions. The aim is to
distinguish this type of Khums which is levied on a
particular date after the lapse of one year and the other kind
of gains whose Khums should be paid promptly.
1. Khums levied on
i. Spoils of War
These consist of war booty acquired in
Muslim's wars against the infidels, that which had been acquired
by force. However, such war should have been waged with
permission of the Imam (a.s.) when present, or the legitimate
authority (asulta ash shari'iyah) at the time of the
occultation. Muslims have agreed on the obligation of paying
khums on such gains. This has been substantiated by
irrefutable evidence from both the Holy Book and the sunnah.
This situation though no longer exists in
this day and age. The reason being that the Islamic leadership
of bygone days did not bear the expenditure of the army; the
fighters themselves did. That is why distribution of war booty
used to be among them in recognition of their effort. Nowadays,
the Islamic leadership – the stated – caters for the cost of war
and pays the soldiers their wages. Hence the opinion about the
state having right of disposal over war booty. That is, the
state falls outside the remit of the evidence of confining the
distribution of war spoils among the fighters, after modern
soldiers have become hired persons.
72. Apparently, the definition of "booty", on
which shari'i consequences are predicated, is the
property acquired during acts of war. That which falls in the
hands of Muslims of the property of a belligerent unbeliever –
if he is allowed to acquire it – should be counted among gains.
It can also be argued that Muslims have no right in the property
of the belligerent unbeliever, for the mere reason that such a
matter could be referred to Marji' (al hakimush shari'i)
in his capacity as the overall guardian of Muslims. It could
therefore be concluded, as a matter of obligatory precaution,
that it is not permissible to take away the property of a
anything that is excavated from the earth,
provided that it is of value.
The obligation to pay Khums on
minerals is general, in the sense that it should be paid whether
the minerals were excavated through mining (or drilling) or were
found at the surface of the earth. For example, Khums
should be levied on gold, silver, copper, lead, iron ore, gems,
mercury, sulphur, oil, salt etc.
Apparently, minerals are among boote. Thus,
the permission of the guardian of Muslims (Marji') has to
be obtained to develop them. This applies to all kinds of land,
including conquered ones.
73. should anyone develop any land that does
not belong to them without the permission of the owner, it is
widely the view among jurists) that the minerals it contains are
the property of the owner. However, this may be the case with
regard to minerals found on the surface, or at short depth of
it; should the minerals be at a greater depth inside the earth,
they are not considered as part of it. Accordingly, and as a
matter of ihtiyat, the developer and the owner should
reach an agreement. Failing that both the parties must have
recourse to the Marji' who is the guardian of the
74. The threshold for paying Khums on
minerals is twenty dinars, i.e. approximately ten Ottoman gold
Lira. Apparently, determining the threshold is done by excluding
the yearly provisions of the proprietor. For example, should the
total amount of the minerals excavated be twenty five dinars and
the yearly provisions ten, no Khums should be levied
because the reminder is below the threshold.
75. The minerals may be extracted at
intervals. Should the established practice (urf) consider
the work as semi continuous, it suffices that the entire
production be considered one for the sake of calculating the
threshold. Conversely, should the work involve long periods of
recess, for this reason or the other – including the fact that
the pace of work is dictated by its nature, no Khums is
payable on every independent batch, unless it rises above the
76. Should there be partners developing the
site, the share of each one of them has to reach the threshold
for Khums to be levied. In other words, even if the total
of all their shared reached the benchmark, no Khums
should be paid.
77. When in doubt about whether or not the
threshold has been reached, one has, as a matter of voluntary
precaution, and where possible, to make sure by way of checking.
If it is not possible to ascertain the fact, or if one is still
in doubt even after checking, no Khums should be payable.
iii. Treasure Trove
Treasure trove is money, gold, jewels, or
other valuable objects, such as old relics, found hidden in the
ground, cave, under a wall, a tree, etc. and claimed by no one.
78. If no one comes forward to lay claim to
the treasure trove, and its ownership cannot be traced to a
Muslim, or an unbeliever who considers property sacrosanct, the
person who found it can own it. That is, without regard to the
land it is found in, i.e. be it war territory of Muslim land,
whether it bore the marks of Islam or the age of jahiliyah
(ignorance), whether the land the treasure trove was found in
was built or derelict, and whether the time span was close to
the founder's time or much older.
Should the founder, after checking, know the
owner of the treasure, in person or through his inheritors, he
should give it back to them. Otherwise, the one who found it
will be deemed as owner anonymous (majhoulil malik), in
which case he should hand it over to the Marji'. If the
owner belongs to very old generation with no known heir, it
should be treated in the light of the rules governing treasure
79. Irrespective of the nature of the land
which contained the treasure trove, once it is established that
the owner is anonymous, the person who found it is not required
to investigate, especially if the treasure is very old and
(Generally speaking) how the present owner of
the land came to own it is immaterial to him being the owner of
the treasure trove. That said, if it was owned by other people
before him, and he came to know that the treasure might belong
to someone who considers property sacrosanct, among the previous
owner or their heirs, it is obligatory on him to ask them
whether the treasure belongs to them. The same applies if the
present owner of the land thinks that there is a possibility
that the treasure may belong to the penultimate owner or his
heirs. Should he conclude that it is theirs, he must hand it
over to them, otherwise, the same ruling in the previous issue
80. There is not difference in the ruling in
the case of the land being tenanted or that which the person who
found the treasure trove in it is being exploited without the
owners permission, although the culprit is deemed sinful on that
At any rate, it is recommended, on the basis
of voluntary precaution, that the person who found the treasure
trove should agree with the landlord, even in the case of
tenancy; failure to reach such agreement should open the way to
arbitration by the Marji'.
81. Khums becomes due on the treasure
trove when it, or its value if it is not gold or silver, reaches
the threshold of Zakat on gold and silver which is twenty
dinars for gold and two hundred dirhams for silver.
The criterion of the threshold of minerals
when brought out in batches/intervals should be observed here.
That is, if the process of retrieving the treasurer trove is
done in phases, but with short intervals, Khums is
payable; if not, i.e. with long intervals, no Khums on
the total should be due, unless each batch reaches the
Also, any expenditure on excavating the
treasure trove must be deducted from the total value. Should the
remainder amount to the threshold or more, Khums should
82. As in the case of minerals, should there
be a group of people taking part in the uncovering and
extracting of the treasure trove, their respective shares, not
the total, should reach the threshold for it to be taxed.
Similarly, when in doubt about whether or not the share has
reached the threshold, checking, where possible, is recommended
as a matter of Ihtiyat.
83. Muslims living abroad should respect the law
of land they are in, including those legislations designed to
preserve national heritage. However, should they come across a
treasure trove, they may keep it.
iv. What Is Acquired
It is all that which is brought up by going
under the surface of the water, be it through manpower or
machine power, such as pearls and corals, and the like of sea
plants and animals, barring fish and marine mammals. What is
gathered from the surface of water is not included in this
definition; it is considered part of gains (makassib).
Apparently, great rivers are treated in the
same way as seas insofar as what is extracted form their depths
84. Apparently, the threshold of what is
acquired through diving is one dinar, or about one half of on
Ottoman gold Lira. Should there be a group of people carrying
out the work by way of partnership, the threshold must be
reached by each and every one of them separately for the Khums
to become due. Whether the acquisition was of the same kind or
different kinds is immaterial.
85. Property retrieved from sunken vessels
belongs to the one who brought it up; that is, if the original
owner did not bother to salvage it in the first place or
salvaging it proved very difficult. However, the ruling
regarding diving does not cover this matter, on the basis of
ihtiyat; rather it is covered by the rules of gains. The same
applies to what is thrown by the sea on the coast; its ownership
belongs to the one who finds/retrieves it.
86. Should amber be extracted from the bottom
of the sea, the rules of diving should apply, i.e. Khums has to
be deducted accordingly. Should it be gathered from the surface
of water or the coastline, no Khums, under the banner of diving,
must be due. However, the rules governing gains should apply.
v. Property Tainted
with Illicit Gains.
It is the money earned by licit means getting
mixed up with illicit gains so much so that is becomes very
difficult to quantify the latter neither in kind nor by an
Since the mukallaf becomes perplexed as how
bet to get rid of the illicit money and whereby extricate
himself from the responsibility, the Shari'a made it compulsory
that the proprietor pays Khums on all the property in a way to
purify the rest and render it halal. This should be done as soon
as the culprit repents and shows remorse, i.e. without the need
to wait one full year.
"Illicit property" is every gain acquired
through means, which Islam has outlawed, or it was acquired
through usurpation or theft. Of the first type is money taken by
way of unlawful singing, adultery, sodomy, and their likes of
sexual licentiousness, sculpture, etc. Or it was a price for
something which is haraam, such as money received for selling a
dead carcass, pig, and alcohol. Or it could be gains of usury,
gambling, and their likes.
Of the second type is any property taken by
force from its owner, be it without his agreement, theft, or by
deceit. We will discuss the sources of illicit gains and the
rules governing them under the theme of "transactions" later,
Should the proprietor or such tainted
property repent, it is obligatory on him to hasten to get rid of
it by either returning it to its owner or reach an agreement
with him as to the best way out.
Once returned, this illicit money could be
available in kind, it could also have been lost or turned into
something else, that remains a debt. In both the cases, the
original owner might be known or unknown; if he is known, he
could be known in person or among a group of people.
The same goes for the property; it could be
identified in terms of its value and kind. Thus, each of these
matters calls for scrutiny to reach the right ruling, which we
will tackle as follows.
1. The property whose
owner is known
It is of two kinds:
i. When the property is in hand.
a. When the owner is known in person, and so
is the property, it is obligatory to return it to him intact.
b. When the owner is known, but the property
cannot be positively identified, the two parties should agree a
way to retrieve the property through an offer/acceptance.
Resorting to choosing by lot could be another vehicle of
resolving the impasse, regardless whether the items of property
were of the same or different values.
c. The owner might be known, so might be the
quantity, yet the type of the property is not. The ruling is the
same as that of the preceding case.
d. The owner might be known, so might be the
kind of property, yet the quantity in not. Both the parties
resort to some sort of agreement. Should there be an idea any
quantity, without the one in doubt, it should be returned. If
the owner does not accept this, they may resort to the Marji'
settle the issue.
e. The owner may be known as, say, one of
three people. The person in whose possession is the property
should inform them provided that both the quantity and kind are
known. Should anyone of them come forward as the rightful owner,
and the others agree with the claimant, the property should be
handed back to him. Should more than one lay claim to the
property, they should agree among themselves as to how to
repossess it. If not, they can refer the matter to the Marji' to
All three may fail to recognize the property;
they did not lay claim to it, and disagreed among themselves. It
is apparent that resolving the matter should be by way of
lot-casting. As a matter of ihtiyat, the Marji' or his agent
must oversee the process of lot-casting.
Should the quantity of property not be known,
the ruling in (a) above should be applied. If the kind of
property is not known, the rulings in (b and c) above should be
ii. The Real Asset Has Been Lost or Damage.
The culprit here should stand to pay damages.
There are few issues to discuss:
a. If all was known – the owner, the
quantity, and type or property – same should be returned to the
rightful owner. If it is an identifiable object, an identical
item should be returned. The value thereof should be reimbursed,
as in the case of grains, oil, etc.
b. Should the original owner be, say, one of
three people, yet he does not know who among them is the
rightful owner, he should, as a matter of obligatory precaution
reach and agreement with all of them. Otherwise, he must pick
one of them by way of lot-casting.
Being/not being able to determine the
quantity and the kind of property should be resolved by
referring to the preceding cases, i.e. in (a and b).
2. Property whose owner
Should the usurper not be able to know the
proprietor of the capital asset, i.e. neither in person nor
among a small number of people, the matter could have different
i. Knowing the quantity and the type of
property, and so long as it is still in his possession, he
should give it away in charity. If it is not known its
equivalent should be given away in charity. The same ruling
applies in the case of loss of the property. As a matter of
obligatory precaution, giving it away in charity must be done
with the permission of the Marji'.
ii. The capital asset could still exist, yet
is got mixed up with another licit property. Neither its owner
nor its quantity is known. This should be treated by paying
Khums on the entire property it was mixed up with.
87. Some may get the impression that if
illicit money was among people's property, such as Zakat, khums,
and waqf, it falls within the definition of "property tainted
with ill-gotten gain", and therefore can be made good by way of
paying Khums on it. This, (I am afraid), is a false perception;
the reason being that such property is entrusted to the Marji'
and thus its owner is known. It should therefore follow that is
cannot be rendered halal by paying Khums on it.
Accordingly, it has to be referred to the
Marji' in the ways already discussed, insofar as its quantity
and kind are known/not known, or both quantity and kind are
88. If before paying Khums , the usurper that
the ill-gotten gains that are mixed up with licit ones more that
the Khums, it is not sufficient to set aside Khums alone. He
should give away in charity the surplus amount. However, he is
not required to pay anything on any suspected amount.
Should he know that the illicit money falls
short of the amount of Khums, it is sufficient that he gives
away by way of sadaqah the amount he knows is haraam to offset
the surplus suspected amount. As a matter of obligatory
precaution, giving in sadaqah should be with the consent of the
Marji' in both the cases.
If after payment of Khums, the proprietor
finds out about the exact amount of illicit money, he should
give away in charity the excess amount or hand it over to the
Marji', should it be over and above the amount of Khums. Should
it be below that amount, it is not permissible for him to claim
back the overpayment, this is so, even if his knowledge about
the situation is not absolute.
89. The mukallaf could have been selling in
his shop haraam products, such as alcoholic drinks, pork, and
dead carcasses, as well as halal ones. He may have sold the
haraam products without valid/shari'I justification. One he
repented, the cost price of such haraam products, even if it is
paid for with good money, is considered illicit. The same
applies for the profits made on selling them.
The way to go about treating this property is
according to what has already been discussed. Any way of the
following would do: (a) returning it to its owner, if it is
known. (b) giving away in charity, if the owner is unknown. (c)
paying Khums on it, if it – the haraam property – is mixed with
a halal one, should neither the quantity nor the proprietor be
However, in case he returned the property to
the person who sold it to him and in the process got what he had
paid for with good money back from him, he does not need to
worry. That said, he should still be deemed sinner in selling
alcoholic drinks, pork and dead carcasses to those customers who
do not consider them halal. The reason being that he must have
destroyed the alcoholic drinks, returned the pork and dead
carcasses to the non-Muslim source where he bought them, or sold
them to non-Muslims who do not have any qualms about consuming
90. The mukallaf away be aware that a certain
amount of ill-gotten money is mixed up with the licit property
on whose total Khums has become due, owing to the fact one year
has elapsed on the property while in his possession. The way to
set about treating this illicit gain is by paying tax on it
twice. For example, suppose the total mixed property is seventy
five, the halal portion of it is fifty, and the remainder is
harram money which is between les than one fifth of the grand
total or slightly above it. Here Khums should be paid on the
fifty to start with, i.e. 20% of the fifty would yield ten; then
one fifth of the sixty five, i.e. thirteen. Thus, fifty two
would remain in his hand, and so on.
91. Should the mukallaf have disposed of the
halal property tainted with illicit gains, he must be liable for
paying Khums on it. As a matter of ihtiyat the amount of Khums
be paid to the eligible people b way qadha in such a manner that
it could be Khums or sadaqah.
92. Should the original proprietor (of the
illicit money) be known after the Khums had been paid, the
taxpayer must not stand to compensate him. However, there is no
harm in practicing ihtiyat by returning his property.