Zakat on collectable items
A collectable is any object regarded as being of value or interest to a collector. There are numerous types of collectables and terms to denote those types. An antique is a collectable that is old. A curio is a small, usually fascinating or unusual item sought by collectors.
People purchase, for example, paintings worth millions as part of their collection. They may not necessarily intend to sell them off later.
From the Islamic perspective and in relation to Zakat, there is no clear cut and direct text to establish the payment of zakat on those items. However, as with many issues, we need to look at the general principles of Zakat and it’s purposes (and Qiyas). If the items are purchased as tradable goods with commercial intention, then the matter is clear; the Zakat payer must add the value of those items at market rate at his Zakat due date and pay 2.5% etc.
However, if collecting is practiced as a hobby or a pastime, then it ought to be regarded as kanz (stowed treasure), whereby it again becomes subject to a 2.5% Zakat. This ensures that all excuses to evade paying Zakat is dispelled and renders an advantage when considering the sadd al-dharaiyi principle in Islamic law, which elaborates the necessity of blocking all roads that lead to iniquity. In effect, collectables, some of which may even have gained a worldwide market, can easily be sold and cashed-in at any given time. Requiring Zakat for these effectively prevents people from collecting simply as a pretext to avoid paying Zakat.
There are of course more details. But this should suffice for now.
Sheikh A. Hasan (Zakat Specialist)