Shafaqna (Shia International News Association) – The Grand Ayatollah Sistani answered some questions regarding Zakat. According to Shafaqna the questions and answers are as follows:
Question 1: If I save an amount of money throughout the whole year I know that I have to pay Khums from it. What about Zakat? Should I give Zakat from the amount also?
Answer: Zakat is not obligatory in that. Zakat should be given from the following items: Wheat, Barley, Dates, Raisins, Coined Gold & Silver, Camel, Cow, Sheep (including goat)
Question 2: Is it permissible for a “Sayyid” to have Sadaqa for their needs? If it is permissible, then please specify the condition.
Answer: It is permissible for a Hashimi to give his sadaqa to another Hashimi or to a non-Hashimi. This includes both Zakat of property and zakat of Fitra. But it is not permissible for a non-Hashimi to give his Sadaqa to a Hashimi. If a Hashimi receives Zakat of property or fitra from a non-Hashimi, it would be forbidden for him to use it, and he who gives it (zakat), his “Zimma” (obligation) would not be discharged. In cases other than those mentioned above it is permissible for a non-Hashimi to give his Sadaqa, atonement, or Fidya of fast ( kaffara) or any desirable charity to a Hashimi. Yes, if charity given to a Hashimi is too little an amount of property and it is given with the intention of repulsing calamity and evil, there is Ishkaal (objection) in its being permissible.
Question 3: What is the difference between Khums and Zakat?
Answer: Both are obligatory, but Khums is on gains after exception of expenses of the year and Zakat is on cattle, crops, gold and silver.
Question 4: Why there is no zakat on bank accounts and monetary bills?
Answer: There are certain specific things which have obligatory Zakat. As for Mustahab Zakat, it includes everything. Money deposited in bank does not have obligatory zakat. Rather, khums is payable on it, if it is not spent for expenses in a complete lunar year.
Question 5: How can Zakat be paid?
Answer: Zakat can be just paid in properties specified by divine law.
Source: Ayatollah Sistani