Question(s)

An elderly person has severe dementia. Is she obliged to give Zakat? Should her husband or her children give Zakāt on her behalf or is she exempted?

Answer(s)

الجواب حامدا ومصليا ومسلما

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

Dementia is a condition largely linked to mental health, which causes a long-term decrease in the ability to think and remember. This is often great enough to affect a person’s daily functioning. As affirmed by the NHS (UK National Health Service), “As dementia affects a person’s mental abilities, they may find planning and organising difficult. Maintaining their independence may also become a problem.”

In light of this medical insight and after having consulted with various medical experts, we can conclude dementia to be predominantly, a mental disorder. As for the perspective of Shari’ah regarding mental disorders, they are regarded to be similar to insanity where one’s mental faculties are (almost) fully compromised.

Thus, in this regard, there are two scenarios:
Scenario 1 – The person who is born insane/with a mental disorder or in such a state since they became bāligh (mature).
Ruling: Such a person is not accountable at all in Shari’ah. Thus, Zakāt and other obligations of Shari’ah do not apply to such a person.
Note: Scenario 1 is rare for the case of dementia but has only been mentioned for ease of understanding and to cover the rare possibility.

Scenario 2 – A person who became insane (mentally ill) later on in life (not from birth/maturity)
a) If the mental health is compromised continuously for a whole year or more, it will be assumed that this person has been in this condition since birth/maturity (just as outlined in Scenario 1) and thus, Zakāt and other obligations of Shari’ah do not apply to such a person.
b) If the insanity/mental illness does not remain continuously for the full year, then such a person will be liable to pay Zakāt.

Thus, in conclusion, if the woman had severe dementia, such that it has impaired the woman’s mental faculties since maturity (rare) or it has affected her continuously for a full year or more, then she will not be liable to pay Zakāt. If on the other hand, it has been less than a year since the dementia has affected her mentally, then she will be liable to pay Zakāt. In this case, if she is not able to discharge her Zakāt herself, the family (husband or children) may discharge it on her behalf with her permission.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best.
Mubasshir Talha
9 Shawwāl 1441/ 1 June 2020

Approved by:
Mufti Tahir Wadee | Mufti Yusuf Ilolvi
[To see their profiles, click here]

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[References]

الصلاة لا تجب على الصغير ولا على المعتوه ولا على المجنون فكذلك لا تجب الزكاة عليهم، انتهى.
[Al-Asl, 2/68]

وشرط وجوبها العقل والبلوغ والإسلام والحرّيّة، انتهى.
[Kanz Al-Daqa’iq, 203]

وقال (العقل) فلا يجب على مجنون. انتهى
[Al-Nahr Al-Fa’iq, 1/412]

وجملة الكلام فيه أن الجنون نوعان أصلي وطارئ. أما الأصلي وهو أن يبلغ مجنونا فلا خلاف بين أصحابنا أنه يمنع انعقاد الحول على النصاب حتى لا يجب عليه أداء زكاة ما مضى من الأحوال بعد الإفاقة وإنما يعتبر ابتداء الحول من وقت الإفاقة… انتهى.
[Al-Bada’i’, 2/5]

وأما الجنون الطارئ فإن دام سنة كاملة فهو في حكم الأصلي، انتهى.
[Al-Bada’i’, 2/5]

وروي عن أبي يوسف: أنه اعتبر الإفاقة في أكثر السنة، فإن كان مفيقاً في أكثر السنة تجب الزكاة وما لا فلا، وروي عنه: أنه إذا أفاق ساعة من الحول تجب الزكاة، وهو قول محمد؛ لأن السنة للزكاة بمنزلة الشهر للصوم، ثم الإفاقة في شيء من الشهر تكفي لوجوب الصوم، فكذا الإفاقة في شيء من السنة تكفي لإيجاب الزكاة.
[Al-Muhit Al-Burhani, 2/297]

وظاهر الرواية قول محمد كما في الهداية وغيرها، انتهى
[Bahr Al-Ra’iq, 2/218; Fath Al-Qadir, 2/159]

See: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia/about/