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FAQs on Missed Zakat

Q. What is missed Zakat?

Missed Zakat refers to unpaid Zakat after being binding upon someone.  The failure to pay Zakat on its due date means one has missed and defaulted in a Zakat payment.  

Q. How can I have missed paying my Zakat?

One can miss Zakat payments intentionally or unintentionally for a number of reasons:

Forgetting Zakat altogether
Miscalculating Zakat and as a result not paying at all or paying less than what was due
Being lazy and missing Zakat
Saving money to purchase something deemed important 

Q. Is Zakat due immediately every year?

The four mainstream schools of Islamic jurisprudence, namely, the Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki and Hanbali schools are all in agreement that the payment of Zakat is due immediately upon become obligatory.

Zakat is an immediate obligation as Allah has instructed us to pay immediately in the following verse:

“And give its due on the day of its harvest.” (Qur’an 6:141)

Although this is referring to Zakat on crops, the overwhelming majority of scholars are unanimous that the same ruling applies to all forms of Zakat.  Furthermore, Zakat is a monetary obligation to fulfil an immediate, pressing and urgent need.  Hence, such a need can only be fulfilled when Zakat is paid immediately. 

Q. Is missing a payment of Zakat a sin?

If a person missed a Zakat payment despite having the ability to pay their Zakat, such a person will be considered sinful.

Once a command of Allah applies to a person, to delay without any genuine justification is regarded as a sin.  

Imam Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Our scholars (the Shafi’I scholars) agree that when Zakat becomes binding upon an individual who has ability to pay, he must give immediately.  Delaying the payment of Zakat will make him sinful.  This is also the view of Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad and the majority of scholars.  Our evidence is the words of Allah, may He be exalted:
 “And give Zakat” (Qur’an 2:43).  This command implies that is to be paid immediately. (al-Majmu’ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab 5/335) 

Q. Does Zakat become a debt?

When a person misses a payment of Zakat, the outstanding balance becomes a debt.  A zakat debt is more severe than normal debts.  A normal debt is the right of the creditor who may be wealthy and affluent.  Whereas, a Zakat debt has two rights attached to it; not only is it the right of a needy person, in addition, it is the right of Allah that one pays his Zakat.

Q. Why does missed Zakat remain obligatory?

Missed Zakat becomes obligatory after a person qualifies to pay Zakat.  This obligation remains upon a person despite negligence, error or ignorance.  

The obligation of Zakat according to the Hanafi School is originally upon the wealth but is transferred onto an individual upon exhausting his wealth.  Whereas, the other schools of Fiqh opine that the obligation of Zakat is vested on an individual from the outset.  Thus, it remains obligatory.

Q. Who is obliged to pay missed Zakat?

Those who are required to pay Zakat are equally required to pay missed Zakat for those years which they qualified to pay Zakat but failed to do so.  At the time of missing a Zakat payment, those required to pay missed Zakat must be:
Adult (have reached puberty)
In complete ownership of the Nisab (Add link for info)

Please note, the three schools of thought other than the Hanafi school state that Zakat should be paid on qualifying wealth owned by the insane and children.

Q. Are there any scenarios where missed Zakat is overlooked and forgiven?

Zakat liability drops upon the loss of one’s wealth due to factors out of one’s control such as fires, floods, theft etc.  However, Zakat liability will only drop if these unfortunate events occurred without spending one’s money.  Realistically, if these events occurred on one’s Zakat date or immediately after without using any of the funds, Zakat liability will be overlooked.  This is the Hanafi school’s opinion.  

For example, the Nisab was £200 and on the Zakat anniversary, Musa had £200.  A day later, a spontaneous fire burnt the £200 worth of notes he had.  In such a scenario, since the actual Nisab he held has been destroyed without his wrong doing, foul play or without spending, the Zakat liability will drop completely as the actual Nisab and savings is no longer present.

This ruling is according to the Hanafi school who opine that Zakat liability is initially on the actual wealth itself rather than the liability of a person.  Only after using the funds does the Zakat liability move onto oneself from the wealth.  Thereafter, the Zakat remains a debt on the person.

However, according to the majority of schools of Fiqh, namely, the Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali schools, the Zakat liability is upon the individual from the outset.  Therefore, a missed Zakat payment will not be written off upon the destruction of wealth on condition one had the ability to pay and did not paid.

Q. How do I calculate missed Zakat?

To calculate missed Zakat, work out the total net Zakatable assets in previous annual Zakat days in the same manner when calculating your net Zakatable assets for the current year.  You can work out your net Zakatable assets by subtracting all your deductible liabilities from your gross Zakatable assets.

One should try to calculate as precise and accurate as possible.  To get a precise figure, one can look at previous bank statements, wage slips, invoices, receivables and other documentation related to investments. 

To obtain a Step by Step guide on calculating missed Zakat, visit

Q. Is the previous year’s missed Zakat deductible from the following year’s gross assets?

When calculating missed Zakat for a number of years, one may deduct all the outstanding zakat from the previous years from the following years. For example, the outstanding Zakat from the Islamic calendar years 1425-1435AH can be deducted when calculating one’s net Zakatable assets for 1436AH.

Q. What if I missed a number of years of Zakat?

A person who missed Zakat a number of years has to calculate the value of the net Zakatable assets on one’s Zakat day for every year missed.

The amount to be disbursed in the previous years has become a debt in one’s liability on the day Zakat was binding.  Thus, the outstanding amount due on each year’s Zakat day must be paid.

Q. What if I do not know the date my annual Zakat day?
Your annual Zakat day will be the first time in life you owned wealth equalling the Nisab threshold.  That Islamic date will be the annual date to pay Zakat.

If you cannot remember the date you first became owner of the Nisab, then the date should be estimated. If this is not possible, then a specific Islamic date should be selected arbitrarily and adhered to annually. 

Q. What if I have been paying random amounts of Zakat without calculating the exact amount due? 

It is necessary to calculate Zakat correctly to ensure one is fulfilling this command of Allah properly.  It is strongly encouraged that one reviews his accounts and finances for the previous years and the amount of Zakat disbursed.  This will clarify if there is a deficit in payment.  One can make amends thereafter.

Q. I have been acquiring unlawful and Haram money for years.  Do I have to pay missed Zakat for all these years?

First and foremost, one must repent for engaging in prohibited activities of trade.  Zakat is not binding upon wealth acquired from haram sources like gambling, interest & sales of prohibited items.  The total amount of money acquired from unlawful activities must be given all in charity.

Money acquired unlawfully belongs lawfully to the owners of the wealth.  If they cannot be traced, one must dispense of such wealth in charity as that amount is not lawfully yours.  Therefore, unlawful wealth is a liability which must be dispensed and will be deductible from one’s Zakatable assets for the missed year.  

Q. I have thousands of pounds of interest money from previous years.  How does this affect missed Zakat?

The amount of interest acquired must be returned to wherever you received interest from.  If that is not possible, the interest amount must be given in charity.  This is a debt and liability upon you.  Hence, when calculating Zakat, interest is a deductible from your gross Zakatable assets.

Money acquired unlawfully belongs lawfully to the owners of the wealth.  If they cannot be traced, one must dispense of such wealth in charity as that amount is not lawfully yours.  Therefore, unlawful wealth is a liability which must be dispensed and will be deductible from one’s Zakatable assets for the missed year.  

Q. Do I have to pay the entire outstanding balance of Zakat immediately?

The four mainstream schools of Islamic jurisprudence, namely, the Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki and Hanbali schools are in agreement that the payment of Zakat is due immediately upon becoming obligatory.  Therefore, the outstanding Zakat amount must be paid immediately as a matter of urgency.

Q. If I pay all of my outstanding Zakat immediately, I will need to take a loan and go into debt? 

A realistic and genuine attempt must be made to disburse missed Zakat immediately.  However, if one genuinely cannot pay the entire outstanding amount due to its large volume, one must pay as much as possible as quickly as possible.  The outstanding amount can be divided into instalments.  

In addition, it is necessary to write in your will that you have outstanding Zakat.  It will be obligatory on the executor of the will to comply with this bequest.  This bequest will be fulfilled from one-third of the estate after burial costs and debts as per the Hanafi school of Jurisprudence.

The Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali Schools of Jurisprudence state that a Zakat debt will be paid from the estate even if the deceased person did not bequeath it.

Q. Is it necessary to give missed Zakat to a specific avenue or person?

The recipients of missed Zakat are identical to that of Zakat disbursed on time.  When paying missed Zakat, pay as you normally pay for Zakat.

Q. What if I am unsure if I have missed a Zakat payment?

If a person cannot remember or recall paying Zakat for any previous year despite knowing one qualified to pay Zakat, then one should pay Zakat for that year. 

Q. What if my spouse or mature children have missed Zakat, am I responsible to pay?

Zakat is an individual obligation.  Thus, each spouse and mature child is individually responsible to disburse their own Zakat as well as their missed Zakat.  However, one may help another disburse their zakat.  Insha’Allah, one will get a lot of reward.   

Please note the three schools of thought other than the Hanafi school state that Zakat should be paid on qualifying wealth owned by the insane and minor children.

Q. Is there any additional fine or monetary penalty for missing Zakat?

There is no additional fine or penalty for failure to disburse Zakat on time.  Instead, one should hasten to pay any outstanding Zakat immediately and equally, seek repentance from Allah.

Q. Missed Zakat for a deceased person? 

The majority of the schools of Fiqh, namely, the Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali schools stance on missed Zakat for a deceased person is that Zakat must be paid from the estate when paying off any debts.  Zakat will be disbursed from the estate even without a bequest for the payment of Zakat.

The Hanafi school opines that missed Zakat will not be paid from the estate unless the deceased had bequeathed the payment of Zakat.  If he did enumerate missed Zakat in his bequest, Zakat will be paid from one-third of his estate after deducting funeral costs and liabilities.

Q. What if I missed Zakat for a number of years when I had a lot of money but now I am in debt?

Missed Zakat is still binding for the previous years despite being currently in debt. One may spread Zakat payments over a number of months in a genuine and realistic manner to fulfil this obligation at the earliest opportunity.  

Current debt does not absolve one from missed Zakat from previous years.  However, current debt will prevent the obligation of Zakat for this year.  Current debt will not uplift missed Zakat of previous years as a person was capable to pay at that time.  Thus, the obligation became vested in a person’s liability and remains until it is paid.

Q. Does missed Zakat drop upon leaving Islam and re-embracing Islam?

The Hanafi and Maliki schools are of the opinion that leaving Islam erases all debts enjoined by Shari’ah including Zakat.  However, the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools opine that these debts are not erased from one’s accountability, thus, a person who re-embraces Islam will still be liable to pay for the missed Zakat prior to leaving the fold of Islam.

Q. Do I have to take into account the rate of inflation when paying missed Zakat?

The rate of inflation will not be considered when paying missed Zakat.  

Inflation is not considered in Shariah based upon the following narration:

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri and Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with them) narrate that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) appointed a person as a governor of Khaybar. This governor brought to the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) high quality dates of Khaybar. The Messenger of Allah (Allah be pleased with them) asked: “Are all the dates of Khaybar like this?” He replied: “By Allah, no, O Messenger of Allah! We barter one measures (sa`) of this type of dates for two measures (sa`) of our own (normal & inferior quality) dates, and two measures (sa`)’s for three of ours. The Messenger of Allah said: “Do not do so (as this will be considered usury). Rather, sell the dates of inferior quality, and then buy the good quality dates with that money.” (Recorded by Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim)

The Islamic jurists and Hadith commentators have explained that the above narration is clear evidence on the fact that when dealing in usurious goods, the similarity which is required is in quantity or equal units and not merely value.  Therefore, one has to pay identical amount for missed Zakat in terms of units and numbers not value.

Q. Can I pay missed Zakat in instalments?

If a person genuinely does not have the financial capacity to pay off the entire missed Zakat balance immediately, it will be permissible to pay off the outstanding missed Zakat balance in instalments.

Q. Will an outstanding Zakat debt be deductible when calculating my Zakat for this year?

Missed Zakat from previous years can be deducted when calculating one’s current Zakatable assets.  A Zakat debt is a deductible liability for the current Zakat year on one’s Zakat anniversary.

Missed Zakat is treated as a liability which needs to be paid off immediately, hence, it is deductible.

Q. Do I have to pay the Zakat debt first or can I pay money I owe to somebody else?

If the debt is deferred & payable later, then pay the missed Zakat first.  However, if the debt is immediate or in the near future and it is feared that by paying missed Zakat you will not be able to pay the debt, it will be permissible to delay the missed Zakat payment.  Make a firm intention to pay the missed Zakat as soon as you have the funds available.

The ideal situation would be to pay the missed Zakat from now in small amounts in instalments in a manner that will not affect the debt payment.  

Q. If I don’t pay an immediate bill, I will be charged interest.  Shall I pay that bill off first or the missed Zakat?

One may pay off the outstanding bill.  Thereafter, however much money is available, one should endeavour to use the remaining money for missed Zakat even if it does not cover all of the outstanding balance for missed Zakat.

The ideal situation would be to pay the missed Zakat from now in small amounts in instalments in a manner that will not affect the debt payment.  

Q. I haven’t paid Zakat on my gold for a number of years.  Which rate do I consider if I am paying now? Today’s rate or the rate of gold in those years?

When paying for missed Zakat on gold, one will take into account the value of gold in the previous years.  Hence, work out how much your gold was worth in the previous years on your Zakat day. 

You may visit the following link to help calculate the value of your gold:

Q. What if I missed paying Zakat only on my savings in my bank account?

Zakat is compulsory on all net Zakatable assets which includes all money, regardless if it is kept at home or deposited in a bank account.  Thus, Zakat is also binding upon the amount one had in their bank account on their Zakat day.  After tracing the balance of the bank account on their Zakat day, one can give 2.5% of bank balance as Zakat.

**If you are overwhelmed by the calculation or the amount you may have missed, or need help, please request a callback from our scholars and we will work with you to provide a workable solution to your problem.**

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