In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
Responding to your question, Dr. Mahmud Al-Khayami, Head of Islamic Studies Dept, Faculty of Medicine, Al-Azhar University, stated:
Paying Zakah: Based on Gold or Silver?
A Muslim must pay Zakah, as long as his/her possessions reach the level of nisab (the minimum level of money for which Zakah is due).
As for Zakah due on money (zakat al-mal), from which is the Zakah of gold and silver, a Muslim pays this kind of Zakah only if he/she owns the minimum level of nisab which is 85 grams of gold, 595 grams of sliver, or the financial value of any of them.
This kind of Zakah is generally based on gold. Hence, if a Muslim has 85 grams of gold – which is not used as ornament – or a sum of money equal to this amount for a whole year, he/she has to pay Zakah for them, which is calculated as 2.5 % of the total amount of what he/she owns.
As for the case of the woman you mentioned in your question, she does not have to pay Zakah for two reasons;
1- She uses the gold she owns as ornament. Therefore, she does not have to pay any Zakah, as it is a condition of Zakah that the gold or silver are used as ornament.
2- The amounts of both gold and silver you mentioned do not reach the level of nisab based on gold, which is also a condition of paying Zakah.
However, if she wishes to pay Zakah for this amount based on silver, which would be more prudent of her, she may do so.
Given the above, she has the right not to pay Zakah as she does not own the level of nisab, or to pay Zakah based on silver, if she converts gold to silver.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.