Zakah: Payment to a poor woman with considerable assets

Q731 :A relative of mine has a plot of land worth SR. 100,000 but the income of this property is too small to cover the ordinary expenses of her family. My relative's husband is handicapped and unable to earn a living. Does she qualify as a beneficiary of zakah?

A731 : What may worry people in this question is the fact that your relative has a plot of land worth a considerable amount of money. Had she had the value of her land in cash, she would have been considered rich and there would have been no way that she could benefit from zakah. Indeed, she would be a zakah payer. The fact remains that the land does not give your relative enough to live on. Should she put her case to people for advice, most of them will tell her to sell the land and invest its value. That may ensure for her a decent income which could look after her expenses, particularly if she lives in a country where the value of her land represents a large sum of money and would generate an income far in excess of what she may need monthly. But this may not be a sound advice. Before she does anything of that sort, she should look into the investment alternatives available to her. I am sure that if she would only express a desire to make a better use of the value of the land many people will come to her offering their services in investing the money. She may enter into partnership with someone who offers her a project that sounds very attractive. It may so happen that in [a period of] two or three years, she should find herself without money, having lost the land as well. Therefore, she should be very careful about how she proceeds Islam does not require her to sell her land in order to live on the proceeds of the sale. An Islamic state will definitely include her among those deserving help, until her situation is sorted out properly, to ensure a good, steady income. You have not told me whether the land is usable for cultivation or building or some other use. If it is an agricultural land, your relative should look into the possibility of using better methods of agriculture of changing the crops she uses it for. She may have to invest some money in order to increase the income of her land. You could help her doing that by speaking to bank managers or reliable farmers. If it is a land which could be a building site, then again an amount of money may be needed to increase your relative's income. Maybe developers would be willing to buy it off her in return for two or three floors in a building which she could then rent out and live comfortably on the rent she would receive. But she must not make any step in any direction unless she is certain that it serves her interests. Meanwhile, she deserves to be helped since she does not have an income sufficient to meet her needs and those of her family. If she or her husband have a relative who is required to support them, in their present circumstances, and he is well off, then he must be made to understand his obligation and fulfill it. If not, then she qualifies as a beneficiary of zakah. Her family should try to sort out her affairs so that she can receive the maximum benefit of what she has, such as the land she owns. Until that takes place and she begins to receive an income which is sufficient to continue indefinitely, because the means to improve it are present and the needs are real, proper, and well considered action is necessary.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )