Most scholars say that there is no zakah on plants or fruits until they attain the amount of five awsuq. Furthermore, this becomes applicable only after the chaff, straw, and husk are removed. If it is not cleansed of husk, then the amount of zakah would be ten awsuq.
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: “There is no sadaqah (zakah) on that which is less than five awsuq.” It is also narrated by Ahmad and al-Baihaqi with a good chain.
Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: “There is no sadaqah on any amount of dates or grains less than five awsuq.” A wusuq by consensus of opinion is sixty sa’as (a cubic measure of varying magnitude). This hadith is said to be munqati that is – a hadith with an interrupted chain.
Both Abu Hanifah and Mujahid hold that zakah is due on any amount, little or big, in accordance with the generic nature of the Prophet’s saying: “From what the heavens water, a tithe [is due]…” This is because land produce is perishable and cannot be preserved for a whole year. In that case, such produce does not attain a nisab within a one-year period.
Ibn al-Qayyim’s discussion of the subject is that the authentic and explicit sunnah for a tithe’s nisab is the hadith: “From what the heavens water, a tithe [is due], and from what is watered by irrigation (gharb-vessel) a half a tithe.” This is applicable to both small and large quantities as opposed to the specific amount mentioned in other hadith. In its application, a generic statement is as important as a specific one. Should there be a conflict between the two, then the most comprehensive will be applicable. This is the rule.
It has been said that both of the preceding hadith ought to be followed. In their essence, they do not contradict each other, nor does one of them have to cancel the other. The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, has to be obeyed in this matter, for he said: “From what the heavens water, a tithe [is due]…” This saying seeks to distinguish between the two (categories): one on which a tithe is due, and the other on which only half of the tithe is due. He therefore distinguished between the two categories only in respect to the amount due. There is no mention of any amount of nisab in this hadith. However, he mentioned it explicitly in another hadith which cannot be ignored as something that is general or is intended to be so and not otherwise. It is similar to other statements of general import which have been explained in the texts.
Ibn Qudamah concludes: “The saying of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, that ‘there is no sadaqah [zakah] on anything less than five awsuq’ is agreed upon. This hadith is specific, and for this reason takes precedence and clarifies his previous statement of general import. This is similar to his saying that ‘zakah is due on all freely grazing camels,’ which becomes explicit by his other saying on the same subject: ‘There is no sadaqah on less than five camels.’ Likewise his saying: ‘Sadaqah on silver is a fourth of the tithe,’ becomes specific by a latter utterance: ‘There is no sadaqah on any amount less than five ounces.’ Thus, it is possible to have holdings which qualify for sadaqah per se, but on which it is not levied.”
When it comes to land produce, possession of a property for a year cannot be used as criterion, because their maturity or growth is completed by the time of harvest, and not by their continuity extended beyond a year. However, possession is considered for goods other than land produce since it is generally assumed that by the end of the year they must have completed their growth. The principle of attaining a nisab on any property is based on the understanding that a nisab is an amount large enough to be subjected to zakah. This may be explained by recalling that sadaqah is obligatory for the rich, which presupposes the existence of nisab generated by their holdings. For produce which cannot be measured but qualifies for zakah, a sa’a is used. One sa’a is aÂ measure equal to one and one-third cups (gadah). Thus, a nisab is fifty kaylah (kaylah is a dry measure of weight, in Egypt it is equal to 16.72 L). As to the produce which cannot be measured, Ibn Quadamah says: “The nisab of saffron, cotton and such items is to be weighed at 1,600 Iraqi pounds (ratl, an Iraqi ratl equals approximately 130 dirhams). Thus, its weight is estimated.”
Abu Yusuf says that if the produce cannot be measured, then zakah can only be levied on it when its value attains the nisab of articles subject to the lowest standard of measurement. Thus, zakah will not be levied on cotton until its value reaches five awsuq of an article to the lowest value so measured, such as barley and the like. This is because it is impossible to measure the article in itself except by the lower price of two nisabs. According to Muhammad ibn al-Hasan: “For zakah, a product has to reach five times the greatest value of its kind. Thus, zakah is not payable on cotton when it reaches five qintars, because evaluation by means of wusuq is based on the consideration that its value is higher than what is valued in kind.”