WHO CAN YOU PAY YOUR ZAKAATUL MAAL TO?
1. The poor (miskeen). The miskeen are described as those people who do not have enough to eat today, do not have adequate clothing today or do not have adequate shelter today. If they lack any of these three ‘survival needs’, they are considered to be miskeen.
2.The needy (faqir). The needy are people who have all their survival needs satisfied, but are short of money (and therefore ‘needy’) when it comes to providing healthcare, necessary education and necessary travel costs for themselves and their family.
3.The wayfarer (literary ‘son of the road’) is the traveller who is stuck in a land more than fifty miles from home and does not have enough money to get home. The refugees like the Rohingya Muslims of Burma and those fleeing the atrocities in Syria can come under this category or the two categories above.
4.Those employed in collecting zakaat. The duty of collecting the zakaat is for the head of the Muslim community worldwide (Amirul Mu’mineen). Traditionally he would appoint qualified and trustworthy people to collect zakaat on his behalf. They were known as ‘amaleena ‘alaih’ and they were eligible to be paid for their efforts from the zakaatul maal funds. Today the question arises, who will appoint the zakaat collectors? Can we appoint ourselves to collect zakaat and pay ourselves out of the zakaat money?
Scholars and Charity Organisations, unfortunately, cannot agree on what should be done and have adopted different solutions to this problem. The first opinion is that until we have a khalifah nobody can appoint zakaat collectors and they cannot be paid from the zakaat funds. Muslims should deliver the zakaat to the eligible people themselves or delegate individuals to do so on their behalf (these delegates cannot be paid from the zakaat money). The second opinion is that we cannot wait for a khalifah as many Muslims around the world are in urgent need, so Charity organisations appoint zakaat collectors and they are paid from the zakaat money. The third opinion is that Charity organisations will appoint people to collect zakatul maal but will not pay these workers from the zakaat money.
Eaalim Institute supports Ummah Welfare Trust, who follow the third opinion and have a policy of 100% of donations reaching the needy people. They do not use zakaat money for their administrative costs or to pay their employees salary or travel costs. At the moment there are few charities, which have a 100% donations policy, but we hope that this increases in the future. Al Imdad Foundation UK is another charity which collects and distributes zakaat with a 100% donations policy.
5.Those whose hearts are to be reconciled. This category includes people who are very close to accepting Islam and are needy and people who have recently accepted Islam. This payment is to remove hardship from these people as they may have made a huge sacrifice which could include facing boycott and persecution from their families. The payment will make their hearts incline further towards Islam and prevent them from returning back to their non-Muslim communities if the hardship is too great.
6.For freeing slaves. Zakaat money was paid to help Muslims who were in slavery to buy their freedom. In the past when the Islamic state was prosperous, and the zakaat fund was large with few Muslims in the Islamic state needing zakaat payments, Muslim rulers would use the zakaat funds to buy the freedom of slaves in neighbouring countries. In some cases these slaves would embrace Islam. This category includes paying the ransom for freeing prisoners of war.
7.Those in debt. A Muslim who is not able to pay his debts and is under pressure from his debtors is allowed to take zakaat money to pay off his debts. He is not allowed to spend this money on himself or his family, but to give it direct to his creditors. Today there are many Muslims whose lives are akin to slavery because of debt especially in the Indian Subcontinent. These people would be eligible for zakaat money.
8.Those in the way of Allah. In the past, ‘fi sabi lillah’ or ‘in the way of Allah’ was interpreted to mean those who are fighting to make the word of Allah highest in the world. In recent times, many scholars have interpreted the meaning of ‘fi sabi lillah’ more widely to include Islamic schools and organisation that propagate Islam such as Peace TV. As with many issues, the scholars disagree and debate continues, although most scholars agree that mosques cannot be included in this category.
I hope that Allah (Glory be to Him) increases the knowledge and understanding of the Muslims worldwide and our ability to help each other when we are most in need. Today we need to help our brothers and sisters in prisons (many without charge or trial) in the United States of America and Europe and those fleeing the terror in Syria and Burma.
Mohammed Mominur Rahman.
22nd Ramadan 1433 Hijri.
 Ibn Qudama in al Mughni.
 e.g. Shaykh ibn Jibreen (rahimahullah) from Saudi Arabia.
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