The World Federation One Stop Fiqh

Ask an Alim

I am not convinced by shia interpretation on Khums what do I do ?


Salaam Dear Sir,

Zakat to my understanding is applicable of gold silver coins (Dinar and dirham at the time of prophet pbuh were to my understanding gold and silver coins). As paper money came to picture sometime in 17th century it was alternate to buying something as alternate to gold or silver coin. So why shias do not give zakat of paper currency.

Khums appearing chapter al-anfal which itself translates to spoils of war. (As per english version of quran). The verses before and after the verses in khums appears to be talking about situation and context related to war.

The orginal word in arabic is ghanimatum for verse 41 of surah Anfal. This word translates to spoils of war or everything that you gain in war (sudden abundance unexpected) so verse 8:41 and the second is in 8:69 speak usage of this word. In 69.
In 8:69 the believers are told to rejoice in what they gain from war.
“So consume what you have taken of war booty [as being] lawful and good, and fear Allah . Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” Both 41 and 69 are enclosed between verses that talk seems to suggest war related situation. When we get something
sudden and a lot as in war like situation seems Khums i.e. without a toil similar to and 8 to 5 jobs for 30 days after which we get a paycheck. Although I am shia the above verses seem to question shia interpreations itself and hadeeths we say in Al kaafi can be both right or wrong but Quran is sold foundation and right. It seems to me that sunni interpretation is more correct.
Please advise how do we come to conclusions and interpretations as we do.

Another example Khums as we apply it on currency. Let us say tomorrow there is another way of representing currency for example bit coin does it mean that khums is no longer applicable. so it is about value and not material right.

Please advise. Also if I am in taqleed of sistani but if am not convinced by shia interpretation on Khums what do I do ?
I do believe and do not deny that Ahluh bayt should get the rights but I worry about our interpretation being wrong.
Respecting is marjah is one thing but doing what Allah likes is more important right as Marjah’s are humans and could be their best human effort but they are not masooms right.

Could you please clarify and please provide realistic evidence as otherwise I cannot follow and defend myself on day of judgement from proof point of view?

Thank you,


Salamun Alaykum

Thank you for your query.

  1. First of all, let’s have a look at Anfal/41 and some English translations

وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا غَنِمْتُمْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ فَأَنَّ لِلَّهِ خُمُسَهُ وَلِلرَّسُولِ وَلِذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ آمَنْتُمْ بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أَنْزَلْنَا عَلَىٰ عَبْدِنَا يَوْمَ الْفُرْقَانِ يَوْمَ الْتَقَى الْجَمْعَانِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

Quli Qarai: Know that whatever thing you may come by, a fifth of it is for Allah and the Apostle, for the relatives and the orphans, for the needy and the traveler, if you have faith in Allah and what We sent down to Our servant on the Day of Separation, the day when the two hosts met; and Allah has power over all things.

Shakir: And know that whatever thing you gain, a fifth of it is for Allah and for the Apostle and for the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, if you believe in Allah and in that which We revealed to Our servant, on the day of distinction, the day on which the two parties met; and Allah has power over all things.

Sarwar: Know that whatever property you may gain, one fifth belongs to God, the Messenger, the kindred, orphans, the needy and those who need money while on a journey.( This is the law )if you believe in God and what We revealed to Our Servant on the Day of Distinction( Badr )when the armies confronted each other. God has power over all things

Looking at these 3 translations, we see that all the translators haven’t translated it as just war booty

2. The words “Ghanam” and “Ghanimat” mean to gain income through trade, industry, or war so not just specifically for war booty.

3. If we accept that the meaning of غنمتم in this verse only means spoils of war, there is still no problem to say that this verse is only describing Khums of war spoils. But the hadiths state the remaining cases of khums.
The same is the case with prayer. It is also about Hajj.  The verses only refer to a part of their rulings and the correct narrations and ahadith state the rest of the explanation. In Qur’an it has been stated and commanded that Salat is Wajib, but how to perform it and how many Rak’at has to be performed is explained by Prophet Muhammad(s.a.w.w) and Ahlul Bayt(as). Same way, Haj and other Furoo-e-Deen are mentioned in general to be obligatory but the explanations are given by the Hadith and Sunnah.

And if we accept that غنمتم  literally includes everything that is obtained with hard work, then the verse will refer to Khums in cases other than war booty also which are explained in ahadith.
4. According to the hadiths of the Ahl al-Bayt Imams, the items that are eligible for Khums are seven, and they are
1. the profit or the surplus of income
2. the legitimate wealth which is mixed with the illegitimate wealth
3. mines and minerals
4. the precious stones obtained from sea by diving
5. treasures
6. the land which a dhimmi kafir buys from a muslim
7. the spoils of war.
However there are some people who interpret the word ghanimtum as ‘whatever of a thing that you acquire as spoils of war’, thus confining the obligation of khums to the spoils of war only. The interpretation is based on ignorance of the Arabic langauage, the history of khums, the Islamic laws and the interpretation of the Qur’an.
Please bear in mind that the word ghanimtum has been derived from al- ghanimah which means “what is taken from the fighting enemies by force”  or “all earnings generally”.

5. Zakat On Currency

The Sunni schools of Islamic law believe that zakat is wajib on any kind of gold and silver, whereas the Shi‘a school believes that zakat is wajib on gold and silver only if they are in form of coins.

As for currencies, three of the four Sunni schools say that it is wajib to pay zakat on currencies provided they reach to the minimum value (equivalent to 4.8 grams of gold) and provided they were under one’s continuous possession for a year.

The fourth Sunni school (Hanbali) believes that it is not wajib to pay zakat on currencies unless one converts them into gold or silver.[1] This position is closest to the Shi‘a position that believes that zakat on currencies will become wajib only when one converts them into gold or silver coins.

The Shi‘a school believes that it is not wajib to pay zakat on currencies. There is a very logical explanation for why zakat is not wajib on currencies:

1) If a person says that “the currencies or bank notes represent the gold or silver coins that are in the government’s treasury,” we would still say that zakat is not wajib on them. Why? Because a person who possesses the currencies does not possess the gold or silver coins, he just possesses the right to ask the government for gold or silver coins. For zakat to become wajib, one must possess the actual coins for a whole year.

2) If a person says, “the currencies or bank notes represent the gold or silver ingots that are in the government’s treasury,” we would still say that zakat is not wajib on them. Why? Zakat becomes wajib on silver and gold only in form of coins.

3) If a person says that “the currencies or bank notes are like promissory notes that prove the indebtedness of the government to that person for certain number of gold or silver coins that are in its treasury,” we would still say that zakat is not wajib on them. Why? What a person has given to someone else as loan is not deemed to be in his possession and therefore it is not liable for zakat

[1] The Five Schools of Islamic Laws, p. 153.


6. Regarding your question of replacing Bitcoin with currency.
After understanding Khums, we know it is applicable on earnings and surplus. If the situation comes when there is only virtual currency like Bitcoins, we will have to see for the Fatwa. Since the currency is used nowadays and the virtual currency hasn’t taken over it fully, once the scenario changes the Fatwa will come along and you can follow it.

7. Regarding your last part of the question, if you follow your Marja, on the day of judgment you won’t be questioned if you had followed your Mujtahid correctly. If you perform whatever your Mujtahid (Agha Sistany) says, you have fulfilled your duty and you are not liable for your Mujtahid’s findings. It is correct the Mujtahideen are not Masoom like our Imams but they have gained the highest status and dignity in gaining the knowledge of Fiqh through their correct understanding (spending decades) for which you are not responsible even if they are wrong.

Our responsibility is to fulfill our duties by performing according to our Mujtahid.


May Allah(swt) grant you success


Syed Haider