In the Qur'an, Allah Almighty has mentioned 8
categories of people who can receive Zakah. Allah Almighty says: "Alms are for
the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those
whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to the truth); for those in
bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it)
ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom." (At-Tawbah
The expression "in the cause of
Allah" or fi Sabil Allah was generally interpreted "Jihad fi Sabil
Allah" and so many jurists restricted this Zakah expense for this purpose.
Muslim jurists also say that in the Qur'an
Allah used the word "Lil fuqara' wa Al-masakin or 'for the poor and the
needy' and the 'lam' or (for)" here means 'tamlik' or possession. Thus they
interpret the above verse to mean that the poor and needy should be made owners
of this money or Tamlik Al-Zakah.
Since in public and social welfare projects no
one becomes the owner, so, according to their interpretation the Zakah should
not be used for this purpose. Thus you will find in the books of Fiqh statements
emphasizing that the money should not be used to build the Masajid, schools,
hospitals, hostels etc. because this money belong to poor and it should be given
to them. There are some jurists who still hold this strict opinion concerning
However, there are a number of jurists of this
century, such as Sheikh Muhammad 'Abduh, Rashid Rida, Maulana Mawdudi, Amin
Ahsan Islahi, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and some Fatwa organizations in Kuwait and
Egypt, they are of the opinion that the phrase 'in the cause of Allah' covers a
broad category. It is a general
term and it should be applied in all those situations where there is a need to
serve Islam and Muslims.
Those scholars consider it permissible to use
the Zakah money to finance the Da'wah and public welfare programs. They say that
the expression 'for the poor and needy' can also mean 'for the benefit of the
poor and needy'.
The modern jurists also argue that in the past
Muslim governments used to build Mosques, schools and used to finance public
welfare projects. Now many governments are negligent in this matter. Many
Muslims are living in areas where there are no Muslim governments.
Furthermore the financial needs of the people
have become so enormous and diverse that earlier rules and restrictions cannot
be fully applied and may not be very useful in every place.
In his famous book Fiqh Az-Zakah, Sheikh Yusuf
Al-Qaradawi, has thoroughly discussed this subject. His Fatwa is that in
non-Muslim countries it is permissible to use Zakah funds to build the Masajid,
Schools and hospitals.
Muslims from all over the world go to Saudi
Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates etc. to solicit funds for the building of
their Mosques and schools. Most of the business people in those countries give
their Zakah for this purpose. Many people from all over the world use this money
for building projects without any question.
Now, there are many people who come to North
America to solicit funds for their Mosques and schools in some poor countries.
American Muslims are also giving their Zakah to build Masajid and schools in
It is the concept of 'fi Sabil Allah' and
helping the Islamic cause in many lands where it has made it possible to
establish Islamic institutions and Mosques.
Zakah is basically for the poor and needy and
most of it should be used to take care of their needs. I believe that for the
Mosque constructions Muslims should make extra charity and should give from
funds other than Zakah. However, it is not forbidden for Muslims to give their
Zakah money for the building of Mosques and schools, especially in non-Muslim
Islamic centers should have a separate Zakah
fund. Those who do not want their Zakah to be used in building projects, should
give their money to the Zakah fund. But those who want to give their Zakah for
the Masjid construction they should donate directly to that project."
Allah Almighty knows best.