*Seminar audio and PowerPoint is at the end of the post.
By the grace and mercy of Allah, I have been conducting seminars and workshops at my Masjid to teach basic, necessary issues. This has proven to be a very efficient method of educating the community.
The most recent of these seminars was on Zakat. I aim to structure the seminar on basic classical Fiqh manuals and insert contemporary issues where appropriate. While some people might be unaware of the basic classical issues related to the topic, I try not to linger too long on them. Most people in some form or fashion have been briefed on the basics before. Therefore I try to build a good understanding of the basic principles and use that as a foundation to elaborate on the more pressing contemporary issues affecting people. Since the current issues become the focus, a lot of research is required on my part to first comprehensively understand all the different angles to the issue and the opinions and research of varying Scholars. I then come to a conclusion based on the research conducted, my own understanding of the Usool in this issue, and the present day situation.
A good example of this is the issue of deducting your mortgage from your assets before calculating Zakat. To come to a conclusion on this issue I started all the way at the top, and that is the issue of debts. In Shafi Fiqh debt does not prevent Zakat from being compulsory. Basically, a person does not factor in his/her debt. This position resolves the issue very easily.
However, in Hanafi Fiqh debt is taken into consideration. I then researched this position to see whether or not a mortgage or fixed payments of any sort would be deducted from a persons assets and if so, then to what extent. I came across varying opinions ranging from ‘deducting the entire debt’ to ‘a years worth of payments’ to ‘the payment due the month in which Zakat is being discharged’. The opinion of deducting only the payment due the month in which Zakat is being discharged (minus any interest, of course) was the most in-line with the Usool (principles). The principle is that only a due-debt may be deducted, and since the indebted has a contract stating that only a certain amount of money is due upon him every month, he may only deduct the amount due that month. Future debts are not taken into consideration just as future earnings are not.
This is an example of the research and work that goes into formulating an opinion on modern-day issues not elaborated upon in the earlier texts. I considered and weighed different opinions, tried to maintain consistency in Usool, conferred with Scholars who specialize in these areas about my findings, and then finally gave an answer.
May Allah forgive me for any errors I might have made.
Seminar Notes and Audio