The Messenger of Allah used to send his authorized agents to collect zakah. He would then distribute it among the deserving people. Abu Bakr and ‘Umar did the same. There is no difference between unhidden wealth (i.e., plants, fruit, cattle, and minerals) and hidden wealth (i.e., trade goods, gold, silver, and treasure). When ‘Uthman became caliph, he followed this practice for a while. Later on, when he saw that the hidden wealth was tremendous and that pursuing it embarrassed the community and while checking it harmed its owners, he left the payment of the zakah on such property to the individual’s discretion. Jurists agree that the owners themselves should assume the distribution of zakah, especially when it is for hidden wealth. As-Sa’ib ibn Yazid reported: “I once heard the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace. He said: ‘This is the month of your zakah. If any one of you still owes a debt, let him pay it off so that your properties become free from debts. Then, you can pay the zakah on them.'” Al-Baihaqi relates it with a sahih chain.
An-Nawawi says that some scholars agree with this practice.: Who should distribute the zakah on hidden wealth
Is it preferable for the owners to distribute the zakah due on their hidden wealth, or is it preferable to let the leader distribute it?
There is more than one opinion on this subject. The preferred choice among the Shaf’iyyah is that zakah be paid to the government, especially when it is a just government. According to the Hanbaliyyah, it is preferable that the zakah payer distribute it himself, even though it is permissible to give it to the ruler. On the other hand, Malik and the Hanafiyyah hold that if the wealth is unhidden, the Muslim leader and his agents have the authority to ask for and take their zakah. The opinion of the Shaffiyyah and the Hanbaliyyah concerning unhidden wealth is similar to that on the hidden ones.