Shari'a Payments

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Sharī'a payments or al-wujūhāt al-shar'īyya (Arabic: الوجوهات الشرعية) are what religiously accountable (mukallaf) persons ought to pay because of shari'a rulings and obligations. This is a commonsensical term, which does not appear in original religious texts. Shari'a payments include khums, zakat, expiation, radd al-mazalim (returning unfairly earned or seized money and property), nadhr, obligatory and recommended Sadaqa (alms), anfal, and endowments (mawqufat). According to some people, certain Shari'a payments, such as khums and zakat, must be paid to the shari'a ruler or his representative.

The Notion

The term, "wujuhat", is a plural form of "wajh" which means money. The term, "al-wujuhat al-shar'iyya" (Shari'a payments), has been vaguely used by Muslim jurists in divergent contexts with regard to a variety of jurisprudential issues. It is argued that "al-wujuhat al-shar'iyya" is not jurisprudential jargon, because it was not defined and explicated by jurists. Instead, it is a commonsensical term; that is, a term commonly used by people. The commonsensical notion, it is said, refers to money paid by religiously accountable persons because of Shari'a rulings and decrees.

The term, "al-wujuhat al-shar'iyya", was restricted by a number of authors to obligatory Shari'a payments only, while others generalize it to any religious incomes, although, in their accounts of religious incomes, they have only referred to khums and zakat.

Cases of Shari'a Payments

In his special letter of attorney to Mahdi Bihbahani for receiving Shari'a payments, Muhammad Husayn Na'ini counts the following as Shari'a payments: the Imam's right, property with unknown ownership, zakat, nadhr, all kinds of charity, expiation, and payments for worship.

Shiite authorities have been quoted as considering Shari'a payments to include khums, zakat, as well as obligatory and recommended alms. Others include khums, zakat, nadhr, and charity in general within Shari'a payments. Endowments and financial gifts have also been included by others within Shari'a payments. Anfal have also been regarded as Shari'a payments by some people.

Some scholars believe that Shari'a payments include the following cases:

1- Fidya (ransom): a penalty for religiously accountable people when they are not able to do some of their religious obligations. According to many jurists, if a person is not able to fast in the month of Ramadan, then he or she must pay fidya, which consists in one mudd (= 3/4 kg) of food donated to people in need.

2- Kaffara: a penalty for religiously accountable people when they do a forbidden action or intentionally abandoning an obligation, such as not fasting, murdering, breaking one's oath, zihar, and so on.

3- Kharaj (tax): a financial duty imposed by an Islamic government on certain lands.

4- Khums: a financial obligation of paying one-fifth of one's annual incomes, imposed on war booties, treasures found, mines, things found under the water, interests from business, property in which Halal and Haram are mixed, and a land purchased by a Dhimmi from a Muslim.

5- Zakat: a financial duty imposed on certain amounts of certain capitals.

6- Zakat al-fitra: money or goods that must be paid or donated by religiously accountable people at the evening of the Eve of Eid al-Fitr every year.

7- Jizya: an obligatory payment by some Dhimmis to the Islamic government.

8- 'Ushr: money received from non-Muslim businesspeople for doing business in Islamic territories.

To Whom Must Sharia Payments be Made?

According to some people, in the Shiite view, as opposed to the Sunni view, it is not legitimate for everyone to manipulate Shari'a payments. In Sunni communities, every ruler with any moral or cognitive characteristics can manipulate such payments in virtue of being an Islamic ruler. Thus, Shari'a payments count as governmental budgets in fact.

However, Shiite scholars believe that only the Shari'a-Legislator and His legitimate representatives can manipulate Shari'a payments. During the presence of an Imam, he is the only person who has the right to manipulate such payments, and during his occultation, only qualified and just jurists are permitted to manipulate Shari'a payments.