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Khums (Arabic: الخمس) is a fiqhi term meaning to pay one fifth of the annual surplus income, or of mine and treasure, taking into account the required conditions in fiqh.

Khums is one of Ancillaries of the Faith which is mentioned and discussed in Sura Anfal verse no.41 and more than 110 hadiths.

Khums is an important subject in Islamic fiqh, particularly Imami fiqh. Calculating and paying khums is among the duties that Shi'as have paid special attention to.

Half of the khums belongs to poor sadat and the remaining half is called the portion of Imam (a). During the age of occultaion, the portion of Imam (a) is spent by marja's (religious authorities) in cases they infer as expedient based on the life and practice of Ahl al-Bayt (a).

One of the major financial sources of Islamic seminary is the amount of money received through khums. It is primarily spent to propagate religion in the Islamic society.

Al-Khums Verse

Main article: Al-Khums Verse

Sura Anfal verse no.41 talks about khums considering it as a sign of faith:

There are some emphases in the words of this verse from the perspective of 'Arab literature such as the words "واعلموا" (know that), "أنَّما" (verily), "من شیءٍ" (whatever thing), "فأنَّ" (so verily), "لِلّه" (is for Allah), and "إن کنتم آمنتم بالله" (if you have faith in Allah) which represent a high degree of significance of khums.[citation needed]

The occasion of revelation of this verse better demonstrates the notable status of khums, since this verse addresses the Muslims who participated in the Battle of Badr, and consider their faith a pure real one on condition that they pay khums.[1]

Meaning of Ghanima

The main controversial point of this verse is the meaning of "ghanima" (Arabic: غنیمة) which is mentioned in the verse by the verb "ghanimtum" (Arabic: غَنِمتُم), as accroding to the verse one fifth of ghanima must be paid, so the meaning of ghanima determine the subject of obligation.[citation needed]

Ghunm (Arabic: غُنم) literally means any profit one receives, whether it is obtained through work, or it is booty, or any other profit.

Al-Raghib al-Isfahani writes in al-Mufradat al-Qur'an that the root of the word "ghanima" is "ghanam" which means "sheep". Later it was applied to denote anything gained from enemy or non-enemy. Al-Tabrisi also believes that ghunm means any type of profit not war booties alone. As the word "maghanim" (Arabic: مغانم, plural of maghnam= ghanima) in verse no.94 of Sura Nisa'[Note 1] denotes the same meaning.

Even those who believe that the meanings of ghanima is war booty do not deny that it embraces a wide domain of meanings concerning any profit one receives effortlessly.

In Hadiths

There are about 110 hadiths regarding the cases of obligation and use of khums in Wasa'il al-Shi'a and Mustadrak al-wasa'il. Paying khums brings about many benefits, some of which have been referred to in hadiths such as:

  • It results in pure offspring and generation for the person paying it.[2]
  • It builds up one's piety and faith in religion.[3]
  • It brings assistance to Imams (a).[4]
  • It purifies one's income and properties.[5]
  • It shields one's reputation against enemies' menace.[6]
  • It eliminates poverty among Imams' offspring.[7]
  • It is an atonement for sins, and good deed in the Judgment Day.[8]
  • It guarantees one the paradise.[9]
  • It brings about Imams' supplication for one.[10]
  • It is a key element that attracts sustenance.[11]

Background in Islamic Tradition

The majority of faqihs and exegetss believe that legislation of khums occurred in 2/624 after the Battle of Badr when a dispute broke out among the fighters and those who collected the booties. Before Islam, 'Arabs used to allocate one fourth of the booties to the commander of that war.[12]

By the revelation of Sura Anfal verse no.1, [Note 2], the whole anfal (means booties and profits) was declared to belong to the Prophet (s). Then, al-khums verse allowed fighters to own the booties after they have paid one fifth of them. Al-Tabari traces back the first time that the Prophet (s) demanded khums to have happened after Battle of Banu Qaynaqa'.[citation needed]

Many hadiths and letters have been narrated from the Prophet (s) regarding khums. Also, many hadiths about khums have been narrated from Shi'a Imams (a). These hadiths are the most noteworthy documents to refer to when extracting fiqhi rulings about khums.

Numerous treatises and works were authored by Imams' pupils as well as faqihs living in the age of minor occultaion about khums. These people were al-Husayn b. Sa'id al-Ahwazi, 'Ali b. Mahziyar al-Ahwazi, Muhammad b. Urma al-Qummi, and Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Saffar. Authoring treatises and books on this matter was always a focus of attention for shi'a faqihs.[13]


The Portion belonging to Imam and Sadat

In the verse of Khums, the people who are rightful to receive khums are divided into six:

  1. God
  2. God's Messenger
  3. Dhi l-qurba (close relatives of the prophet)
  4. Orphans
  5. Miskin (those who are very poor)
  6. Ibn al-sabil (those who are in trouble financially while traveling)

"Dhi l-qurba" is applied literally to mean all the relatives of a person; however, based on hadiths dhi l-qurba in this verse points to Imams.[14]

Sahm al-Imam: According to hadiths, the portion belonging to God, Prophet, and dhi l-qurba belongs to the leader of the Islamic society (the Prophet (s) or Imam). This portion is called the sahm al-Imam (portion of Imam). During the age of occultation, Marja's receives this portion during Occultation of Imam al-Mahdi (a) as his deputies and spend it in those cases in which Imams (a) themselves have spent according to historical reports .[citation needed]

Sahm al-sadat: The other issue about this verse is the meaning of "orphans", "the poor" and "Ibn al-sabil" that they refer to all orphans and poor people or refer to those people among relatives and descendant of the Prophet (s).

Imamiyya scholars believe that it refers to the orphans, the poor and Ibn al-sabil of Banu Hashim.[15] Therefore, this part of khums is called "sahm al-sadat" (the portion of Sayyids).

Considering the division of khums into two share (sahm) of Imam and that of sadat, the khums is sometimes called "sahmayn" (two shares).

Instances of Obligation

The prominent accepted viewpoint of Shi'a faqihs is that khums is wajib (obligatory) in the following cases based on Imams' hadiths:

  • The profit gained through a job or a business and all other profits once the annual expenses are excluded.
  • Booties, whether movable or not, which are obtained through fighting with al-kuffar al-harbi (means kafirs who declare war against Muslims), on condition that the war is legitimate.
  • Mines including minerals such as gold, silver, lead, copper, iron, oil, turquoise, agate, and like these.
  • Treasure, meaning a property which is concealed at a place like ground, wall, bough, and the like.
  • Ghaws, meaning anything obtained through underwater diving like pearl and coral.
  • Properties part of which has been obtained through an irreligiously method (and therefore is haram) in such a way that it is almost impossible to separate haram part from halal part, and the amount of haram part and its owners is unknown.
  • A land which a dhimmi (=non-Muslim citizen of an Islamic state) purchases from a Muslim.

Calculating and Paying

  • No delay in paying khums is acceptable. No one is allowed to postpone the payment of khums to make oneself indebted to those who must receive khums.
  • The spouse and offspring themselves must pay one fifth (khums) of their properties
  • Khums must be delivered to marja' or it has to be spent with his permission and any making use of it without permission is forbidden.
  • Khums is considered a worship and must be done with the intention of approaching God (qasd al-qurba).

Khumsi Year

Any mature person has to specify a day to calculate khums of his whole year. Some marja'س think khumsi year starts as soon as one receives money or a property (gift, salary, and so on). Some others believe the first day of an occupation or the time of receiving first salary and income must be considered as the beginning of khumsi year.[16] As one year passes from the specified day, it is the time of calculating khums. According to the fatwas of most marja's khums must be calculated as the following:

  • Consumable materials such as food and the like (which will finish after some time). If there remained an excess of them, one fifth (khums) of them must be exchanged to money at their current price and paid as khums. Those things that remain for a longer time and are needed (like carpet, refrigerator, vehicles and so on) are not included for paying khums even if they are purchased with the income during the year; nevertheless, if they are bought with the income earned at the end of the year, whose one fifth (khums) is not paid yet, one fifth of them (khums) must be paid.[17]
  • If one has had no khumsi year, the best thing to do is to refer to marja's office or one of his representatives.

Some Points

  • An unemployed person, who makes a deal and gains profit, after one year, must pay one fifth of the amount of profit which is surplus to the annual expenses.[18]
  • There is a difference of opinion among marja's on the issue of khums for some earnings such as gift, bank prizes and so on.
  • If one has spent more than what is needed during the year, he should pay khums of that amount.
  • If we are doubtful whether the host has paid khums of his earnings, we must not inquire and it is not (haram) to eat from his food.

In some cases, when the time of paying khums comes, the person may not be able to pay the whole or part of it; on the other hand, utilizing the money and property whose khums must be paid is prohibited. Marja' or his representative take khums from the person so that he does his religious duty perfectly and is free to use his money and property which is halal. After that, they return khums partly or completely to the person as though they are lending it to him, and the person must pay it back after his financial problem is resolved. This process is called dast gardan.

Obligation of Paying Khums of Surplus Income

One of the disputes revolving around paying khums of surplus income (the profits gained through commerce and other things) is that khums has not been as widely discussed as zakat in historical and hadith references before the age of Imam al-Baqir (a) and Imam al-Sadiq (a). Faqihs believing in the obligation of paying khums of surplus income have responded to this argument elaborately and widely. Their reply suggests that reasons of obligation of khums obviously demonstrate that its obligation is a general, legitimate, and permanent order or rule, and it is not narrowed down or specified to a certain time and age.[19] The advocates of this belief also argue that by taking into consideration the fact that zakat is spent for others (not Bani Hashim) we realize that no alternative remains for the poor of Bani Hashim to satisfy their basic needs of life if we deprive them of khums of surplus income.[20]

In the Age Occultation

How to decide on khums while Imam (a) is in occultation is one of the issues being debated. The prominent accepted opinion of contemporary faqihs is for khums to be spent on the cases in which marja' is convinced or almost sure that if Imam (a) was present, he would utilize khums in the same way as they do. These cases include strengthening Islam, supporting Islamic seminary, propagating Islam, constructing mosques, resolving the problems of libraries and schools, assisting the poor, and any charity and good action based on their priority and importance.[21] There were some viewpoints about khums in the past which were not widely accepted and popular by the scientific society. For instance, the ideas that khums is no longer obligatory,[22] it is obligatory to keep Imam's (a) share aside,[23] and it is obligatory to bury khums.[24]

The commonly accepted opinion by faqihs for sadat's share is to pay their share, even though some faqihs think in this case khums is mubah for shi'a and its obligatory state goes away. This notion is technically called tahlil al-khums.[25] Of the other fiqhi ideas which are not preferred is to bury khums until Imam al-Mahdi (a) arrives, or the idea that khums must (it is wajib) be kept and preserved.

Khums and Tax

Some argue that for those who pay tax to the Islamic government, khums is an extra duty and loses its meaning. This attitude views khums as an approach for past Islamic governments to provide for the needs of the government. Therefore, nowadays that Islamic government has obliged people to pay different taxes; there remain no position and justifiability for khums.

To respond to this criticism, faqihs have reminded that khums and tax are totally different issues which differ in purpose, use, and the cases in which they become necessary. Governmental tax is received from the whole income a citizen earns; it is paid by all the citizens regardless of their religion, and is spent on general expenses a society has. On the other hand, khums is taken from the annual surplus income of a Shi'a Muslim; if one does not pay it, there is going to be no persecution in this world, one does not pay it unless he or she believes in it religiously, and it is spent on the matters like assisting the poor and propagating the religion.

In Sunni Fiqh

Khums is discussed in Sunni fiqh references in the section of distribution of booties, in the chapter about jihad. Similar to Shi'a faqihs, Sunni faqihs refer to khums verse and mutawatir hadiths (repeatedly narrated through different chains) to prove that khums is obligatory. However, they are not in agreement in cases of its obligation and its uses. For Sunni sects, paying khums for booties is one of the most important obligatory cases. Their major reason to this is khums verse whose revelation goes back to the Battle of Badr. However, Sunni faqihs believe paying khums for treasure is obligatory on some conditions. There is disagreement among Sunni faqihs about the obligation of cases like fay' (the lands and properties which are abandoned and Muslims gain them without effort and fighting), different kinds of mines, purchase of lands from Muslims by dhimmi.[26]

See Also


  1. Makarim Shiarazi, Tafsir nimuna, vol. 7, p. 172
  2. Al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.1 p.547
  3. Al-Hurr al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol.9 p.538
  4. Al-Hurr al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol.9 p.538
  5. Al-Hurr al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol.9 p.484
  6. Al-Hurr al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol.9 p.538
  7. Al-Hurr al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol.9 p.514
  8. Al-Hurr al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol.9 p.538
  9. Al-Hurr al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol.9 p.528
  10. Al-Hurr al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol.9 p.538
  11. Al-Hurr al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol.9 p.538
  12. Al-Khalil b. Ahmad, al-'Ayn, vol.2 p.133
  13. Tihrani, al-Dhari'a, vol.1 p.472
  14. Al-Hurr al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol.6 khums
  15. Fadil Lankarani, Khum, anfal, fay' dar Qur'an-i karim, p. 92
  16. Tawdih al-Masa'il Maraji' , no.1752, 1753
  17. Yazdi, al-'Urwa al-wuthqa, vol.2 no.67; Khamenei, Ajwabat al-istifta'at, q. 851-853, 906, 909, 912
  18. Tawdih al-Masa'il Maraji' , no.1765; Nuri, Tawdih al-Msa'il, no.1761; Wahid Khurasani, Tawdih al-Msa'il, no.1773
  19. Makarim, Anwar al-fiqaha, p.291-292
  20. Burujirdi, al-Mustanad, p.200-201
  21. Burujirdi, al-Mustanad, p.330; Makarim, Anwar al-fiqaha, p.483
  22. Al-Fayd al-Kashani, al-Wafi, vol.10 p.344
  23. Al-Mufid, al-Muqni'a, p.286
  24. Naraqi, Mustanad al-Shi'a, vol.10 p.128
  25. Al-Mufid, al-Muqni'a, p.285; al-Bahrani, al-Hada'iq, vol.12 p.439
  26. Ibn Rushd, Bidaya al-mujtahid, vol.1 p.313-314
  1. O you who have faith! When you issue forth in the way of Allah, try to ascertain: do not say to someone who offers you peace, 'You are not a believer,' seeking the transitory wares of the life of this world. Yet with Allah are plenteous "gains" (maghanim). You too were such earlier, but Allah did you a favour. Therefore, do ascertain. Allah is indeed well aware of what you do.
  2. They ask you concerning the anfal. Say, 'The anfal belong to Allah and the Apostle.' So be wary of Allah and settle your differences, and obey Allah and His Apostle, should you be faithful.


  • The material for this article is mainly taken from خمس in Farsi Wikishi