Utilizing Unlawful Wealth

2nd March 2016

السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

Question: What is the legal ruling on paying Zakāt from unlawful income such as benefit fraud? Is it permissible to utilize it for their own needs and if not, then how should one dispose of it?

الجواب حامداً و مصلياً

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful


Regarding the above query, taking unlawful advantage of the benefit welfare system in the UK is not permitted and sinful. As a general principle, Zakāt is never calculated upon unlawful earnings and hence, subjected to a separate legal ruling. However, the nature of the query requires an elaborated answer since other perspectives must be taken into consideration. To explain, anyone who does not possess any lawful income apart from the above then Islamically they don’t own that wealth. This income falls into the category of khabeeth (unlawful) according to the Fuqaha terminology, and Khabeeth wealth is not Zakātable even if it reaches the Nisāb level.[1] The money must be returned to the government by contacting the relevant agency. Should this prove impossible then as a final resort it must be given away to the neediest people without the intention of reward with the purpose of disposing of it.[2] Alternatively, some scholars have allowed using Khabeeth wealth to fund non-Islamic public welfare projects.[3] Such projects may include sports centres, health research projects etc.

If the above unlawful income is mixed with other personal lawful earnings then there are two scenarios. If both lawful and unlawful are separable, then the unlawful income must be separated and utilized as explained above and Zakāt becomes payable on the lawful portion if it fulfils the criteria of Zakāt that is. If the mixture of both are inseparable, in that calculating the unlawful amount from the lawful one is not possible and both combined reach the Nisāb level then Zakāt become payable if the majority of income is lawful as ownership is now established in this case according to Imām Abū Haneefah rahimahullah. In the case where the majority is unlawful then Zakāt won’t be calculated and all of it must be disposed of as explained above.[4] It must be noted here that Imām Sāhib’s rahimahullah ruling is based on determining the legality of Zakāt in such a predicament and should not be misconstrued where a person justifies in benefiting from unlawful earnings. One still bears the burden of sin of earning even a small quantity of Harām income.

[Allāh Knows Best]

Written by (Mufti) Abdul Waheed

Answer Attested by Shaykh Mufti Saiful Islam

JKN Fatawa Department

[1] Al-Shāmi Durrul Mukhtar wa hashiyah Ibn Abideen, Book of Zakāt, Bāb Zakāt al-Ghanam, p 218 vol 3

(قَوْلُهُ: كَمَا لَوْ كَانَ الْكُلُّ خَبِيثًا) فِي الْقُنْيَةِ لَوْ كَانَ الْخَبِيثُ نِصَابًا لَا يَلْزَمُهُ الزَّكَاةُ؛ لِأَنَّ الْكُلَّ وَاجِبُ التَّصَدُّقِ عَلَيْهِ فَلَا يُفِيدُ إيجَابَ التَّصَدُّقِ بِبَعْضِهِ

[2] Al-Shāmi Durrul Mukhtar wa hashiyah Ib Abideen, Book of Hadhr wal Ibāhat, Fsl fil Bai, p 553 vol 9

لَوْ مَاتَ رَجُلٌ وَكَسْبُهُ مِنْ ثَمَنِ الْبَاذَقِ وَالظُّلْمِ أَوْ أَخْذِ الرِّشْوَةِ تَعُودُ الْوَرَثَةُ وَلَا يَأْخُذُونَ مِنْهُ شَيْئًا وَهُوَ الْأَوْلَى لَهُمْ وَيَرُدُّونَهُ عَلَى أَرْبَابِهِ إنْ عَرَفُوهُمْ، وَإِلَّا يَتَصَدَّقُوا بِهِ؛ لِأَنَّ سَبِيلَ الْكَسْبِ الْخَبِيثِ التَّصَدُّقُ إذَا تَعَذَّرَ الرَّدُّ

[3] Shaykh Khalid Saifullah Rahmāni, Kitābul Fatāwa, p. 308, vol5

[4] Al-Shāmi Durrul Mukhtar wa hashiyah Ib Abideen, Book of Zakāt, Bāb Zakāt al-Ghanam, p 217-8 vol 3

(وَلَوْ خَلَطَ السُّلْطَانُ الْمَالَ الْمَغْصُوبَ بِمَالِهِ مَلَكَهُ فَتَجِبُ الزَّكَاةُ فِيهِ وَيُورَثُ عَنْهُ) ؛ لِأَنَّ الْخَلْطَ اسْتِهْلَاكٌ إذَا لَمْ يُمْكِنْ تَمْيِيزٌ عِنْدَ أَبِي حَنِيفَةَ، وَقَوْلُهُ أَرْفَقُ إذْ قَلَّمَا يَخْلُو مَالٌ عَنْ غَصْبٍ، وَهَذَا إذَا كَانَ لَهُ مَالٌ غَيْرُ مَا اسْتَهْلَكَهُ بِالْخَلْطِ مُنْفَصِلٌ عَنْهُ يُوَفِّي دَيْنَهُ وَإِلَّا فَلَا زَكَاةَ، كَمَا لَوْ كَانَ الْكُلُّ خَبِيثًا كَمَا فِي النَّهْرِ عَنْ الْحَوَاشِي السَّعْدِيَّةِ.

(قَوْلُهُ: بِمَالِهِ) مُتَعَلِّقٌ بِخَلَطَ، وَأَمَّا لَوْ خَلَطَهُ بِمَغْصُوبٍ آخَرَ فَلَا زَكَاةَ فِيهِ كَمَا يَذْكُرُهُ فِي قَوْلِهِ كَمَا لَوْ كَانَ الْكُلُّ خَبِيثًا (قَوْلُهُ: لِأَنَّ الْخَلْطَ اسْتِهْلَاكٌ) أَيْ بِمَنْزِلَتِهِ مَنْ حَيْثُ إنَّ حَقَّ الْغَيْرِ يَتَعَلَّقُ بِالذِّمَّةِ لَا بِالْأَعْيَانِ ط

(قَوْلُهُ: مُنْفَصِلٌ عَنْهُ) الَّذِي فِي النَّهْرِ عَنْ الْحَوَاشِي: مَحَلُّ مَا ذَكَرُوهُ مَا إذَا كَانَ لَهُ مَالٌ غَيْرُ مَا اسْتَهْلَكَهُ بِالْخَلْطِ يُفْصَلُ عَنْهُ فَلَا يُحِيطُ الدَّيْنُ بِمَالِهِ. أَيْ يُفْصَلُ عَنْهُ بِمَا يَبْلُغُ نِصَابًا

مَنْ مَلَكَ أَمْوَالًا غَيْرَ طَيِّبَةٍ أَوْ غَصَبَ أَمْوَالًا وَخَلَطَهَا مَلَكَهَا بِالْخَلْطِ وَيَصِيرُ ضَامِنًا، وَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ سِوَاهَا نِصَابٌ فَلَا زَكَاةَ عَلَيْهِ فِيهَا وَإِنْ بَلَغَتْ نِصَابًا؛ لِأَنَّهُ مَدْيُونٌ وَمَالُ الْمَدْيُونِ لَا يَنْعَقِدُ سَبَبًا لِوُجُوبِ الزَّكَاةِ عِنْدَنَا. اهـ.