Zakah: Women's jewellery-limit

Q738 :I understand that each family is allowed 85 grams of gold. However, a middle class Muslim family possesses about 200 grams of gold in jewelry, which is used by the mother and her daughter. They need more for their own use, i.e. for the marriage of the daughter and her brother. What is the practical solution to this problem.

A738 : You confuse two separate issues. It is not true that a family is allowed 85 grams of gold. Indeed, any family or woman may have as much gold as she wants. There is no upper ceiling on how much of jewelry a woman may have. The figure of "85 grams of gold" has nothing to do with a woman's jewelry. It is the threshold of zakah, which means that if a person, a man or a woman, owns more than the equivalent of 85 grams of gold, or 634 grams of silver, and after the passage of one year, he still owns more than this basic amount, he is liable to pay zakah on what he has, at the rate of 2.5 percent. Indeed, he need not have any amount of gold whatsoever to become liable to zakah, if he owns more than the equivalent of that amount. All his possessions may be in ordinary currency. As far as the jewelry used by a woman is concerned, it is exempt from zakah, as long as its amount is considered to be reasonable for women in her social status. A woman who is very rich may have jewelry amounting to much more than the 200 grams owned by this middle class family, and she need not pay a penny in zakah for that jewelry. Another woman may have half as much in jewelry, but that would be much more than reasonable for women in her social status. Therefore, she pays zakah on what is considered to be excessive. This is a totally different matter. I should explain that in determining if zakah is payable for gold or jewelry, or indeed anything else, we do not take the family as a whole. Every individual has to look after his or her own zakah. For the purposes of zakah, there is no such thing as joint ownership. If something is owned jointly, each partner has to calculate his or her share of that particular item and add it to his or her belongings in order to determine how much zakah he or she should pay out. What we pay in zakah is obviously determined by the relevant rules of zakah. [Added: A woman is not required to pay any zakah for her jewelry provided that two conditions are met: 1. The amount of jewelry she has should be considered reasonable for a woman in her social status; and 2. It is bought for her personal use, not as a means of investment. While some women are very fond of jewelry, the amount they have must not be excessive in order that it be exempt from zakah. As you realize, no exact figure can be given here. What is excessive in one case, may be reasonable, or low in the case of another. It all dependent upon the financial means. On the other hand, if the woman buys jewelry because she hopes to be able to sell it later at a profit, then it is no longer personal ornament.]

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )