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بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔

‘Ushr’ (Tithe) On Agricultural Produce

One of the majestic favors of the Creator of the Universe is the creation of earth, in which numerous kinds of grains, fruits, flowers, vegetables, and plants grow by Allah’s order, without which the survival of man is impossible. It is mercy and benevolence of Allah that He made this earth for man’s consumption, and stored a huge stock of nutriment in it for all humans until the Day of Judgment.

Allah made the soil productive, and for the growth and development of produce, He provided with water in abundance by sending it down from the clouds and making the streams flow from the mountains and placingwaterreservoirs within earth. Along with provision of air, he made light and heat available to enable humans, Jinns and other creatures to make the best use of land produce and spend their lives.

Undoubtedly, it is the Creator of the universe Who has set such a mechanism of earth’s productivity. Allah,the Exalted, says in the Holy Qur’an: “Have you seen that (seed) which you sow? Is it you who makes it grow, or are We the grower?” (al- Waaqi’ah:63), it means that your job is only to sow the seed and work hard (in order to grow it). Was it within your reach to develop it until it turns into a shoot or transform it into a tree or plant and make it produce grains and fruits for your benefit? Is there anyone besides Allah who can develop this seed which you sowed to this stage?

No doubt each and every grain of earth’s produce is a great blessing of Allah, and the actual Creator is Allah,the Exalted. Man is incapable of growing even a straw without the immense favors of Allah like making the soil productive and making water, air, heat, cold and light available. Everyone should be thankful to Allah for this majestic blessing that He facilitated the best of the foods and nutriments for us from the earth. The Islamic Shari'ah has taught the way to express thanks (to Allah) by paying one tenth or one twentieth out of the produce of land as Zakaat to fulfill the needs of the poor and the needy.

Regarding Zakat on produce of land Allah says in the Holy Qur’an : “And it is He Who produces gardens trellised and untrellised, and date-palms, and crops of different shape and taste (its fruits and its seeds) and olives, and pomegranates, similar (in kind) and different (in taste). Eat of their fruit when they ripen, but pay the due thereof on the day of its harvest, and waste not by extravagance. Verily, He likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance),”(al-Anaam: 141)

Similarly, Allah the Exalted says: “O you who believe! Spend of the good things which you have (legally) earned, and of that which We have produced from the earth for you, and do not aim at that which is bad to spend from it, (though) you would not accept it save if you close your eyes and tolerate therein. And know that Allah is Rich (Free of all wants), and Worthy of all praise.” (al-Baqarah: 267)

The first and the foremost commentator of the Holy Qur’an and Prophet of Allah (PBUH) said: “A tenth is payable on what is watered by rivers, or rains, and a twentieth on what is watered by camels”.(Muslim, Musnad Ahmad, Nasai and Abu Dawood)

The Prophet (PBUH) said: “On a land irrigated by rain water or by natural water channels or if the land is wet due to a nearby water channel, half of an Ushr(i.e. one-twentieth) is compulsory as Zakat on the yield of the land.(Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Abu Dawood and Ibne Majah)

In the light of the Qur’anic verses and Prophetic Traditions (PBUH), Muslim scholars agreed that it is obligatory to pay one tenth or one twentieth out of the produce as Zakat on the yield of the land, however, there is a difference amongst them in its details.(Badai’us Sanai’)

In his book al-Mughni, Sheikh Ibne Qudamah mentions that there is no difference of opinion in the Ummah concerning the obligatory nature of Zakat on the produce of land.

What is Ushr?

Ushr means one tenth. But as per the explanation of Prophet (PBUH) regarding Zakat on the yield of land it is divided into two categories:

1-   If the land is irrigated by the water of rain, or river, or canal available free of cost then one tenth out of the produce of land would be obligatory to pay as Zakat of agricultural produce.

2-   If the land is irrigated by tube well or any other similar means then one twentieth out of the produce of land would be obligatory to pay.

To sum up,on the produce of land irrigated by the water that is available free of charge, only one tenth of the produce would be payable otherwise, one twentieth of the produce would be given. If the land was irrigated by both rain water and water from tube well, then the means that had had a greater contribution in irrigation shall be taken into account (for calculation). The Zakaat levied on both kinds of means is termed as Ushr by Islamic jurists.

Nisab for Ushr (minimum amount of produce that mandates the payment of ushr)

Due to the absence of any specification in the Quran orHadeeth (regarding Ushr) no exact Nisab was set forth by Abu Hanifah (RHA). Rather, it would be payable on every produce of land, regardless of quantity of produce. This means that there is no fixed Nisab in Ushr like Zakat, below which Ushr may be waived.  According to Abu Hanifah (RAH)Ushr, one tenth or one twentieth of the produce is also mandatory on fruits and vegetables. But with reference to the Hadeeth “Sadaqah is payable on less than five Wasaq” Imam Abu Yusuf andImam Muhammad (RHA) and other jurists opined that if the produce is less than five Wasaq which is equal to 1 Quintal and 53 kg, no Ushr is obligatory. Meaning, if the produce of wheat is less than 1 Quintal and 53 kg then, Ushr will not be payable on it.

Difference between Ushr and Zakat:

In case of Ushr, if the produce of land is obtained multiple times in a year, Ushr (one tenth or one twentieth) of each produce would be payable every time.  For Zakat to be obligatory on gold, silver and money, it is necessary that such a wealth should exceed the basic needs and reach the level of Nisab and remain in possession for a whole year. However, all these conditions (for Zakat) are not a prerequisite for the payment of Ushr. On cash, gold and silver Zakat is payable only once a year, however on produce of land, which is reaped twice a year the Zakat will also be payable twice (a year).

After the payment of Ushr on produce of land, if the grains are stored for future, payment of Ushr would not be obligatory on them again.But, if these grains are sold, Zakat will be obligatory on the amount obtained from this sale, if the amount reaches to the level of Nisab, and remains in possession for a whole year. No Zakat is obligatory on agricultural lands regardless of their cost.

Ushr on the land given to the tenants on the basis of produce sharing:

It is mandatory for every person to pay Zakat (one-tenth or one-twentieth) in accordance with the amount of produce obtained from his share. For example, if the landlord and tenant divided the land produce between them equally, both of them should pay one tenth or one twentieth out of what they received.

Ushr and the expenses of reaping:

In case of Ushr of agricultural yield, one tenth or one twentieth out of the total produce will be paid, and the expenses of reaping, etc. should not be deducted from it. For example if the produce of wheat is one metric ton, out of which five Quintals were paid as the expense of reaping and ten Quintals were given as the price of threshing, Ushr would be payable on one metric ton of produce not on 85 Quintals, i.e. after deducting 15 Quintals from the total produce.

Different rulings:

Lands in India generally fall under the category on which Ushr of the produce should be paid to those who are entitled to receive it. Maulana Abdussamad Rahmani classified Indian lands into thirteen categories, Ushr being mandatory on ten of them (as per the rule) and other three falls under the category of land on which Ushr must be paid to those deserving it, to remain on the safer side.(Modern jurisprudal Rulings, Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani)

Some scholars differ concerning Ushr on agricultural produce of Indian lands, but due to absence of any specification in the Qur’an and Hadeeth regarding Ushr, payment of one tenth or one twentieth of the produce should be done to those who are entitled to receive it, to be on the safer side.

Eight categories of people entitled to receive Ushr, they are also the recipient of Zakat:

Allah mentioned eight people in Surah al-Taubah verse no: 60; who are entitled to receive Zakat:

  1. A poor person who has meagre amount of wealth, which does not reach to the level of Nisab.
  2. A needy person, who has no wealth.
  3. A person who has been assigned the job of collecting Zakat.
  4. Those whose hearts are to be reconciled.
  5. A slave whose freedom is desired
  6. The one who is burdened with debt, and doesn't  have money free from the debt that reaches the level of Nisab
  7. The one who strives in the way of Allah.
  8. A wayfarer who has run out of resources.

Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (www.najeebqasmi.com)