Zakah: Payment to a political party

Q730 :Is it permissible to pay zakah, fitra, ordinary donations or give the hides of the sacrificial animals to political parties which may be involved in terrorism, killing and misappropriation? If a person donates these or other things to such a party, does he share in the responsibility of their sins?

A730 : This is a rather strange question and most probably the reader knows the answer, but he wants the information shared with our readers. The first point to make is that zakah, fitra and ordinary sadaqah or charity have their rightful beneficiaries and they must be paid to those beneficiaries only. Two people came to the Prophet and asked him to give them out of zakah money. He answered, "God has not entrusted the distribution of zakah to a prophet, given a message to convey; or to an angel who has a favored position with God. He himself has ruled on its distribution and divided it between eight groups of people. If you belong to any of these, I will give you zakah money. If not, then you may have none of it." Of course, the Prophet was referring to Verse 60 of Surah 9 which lists the beneficiaries of zakah, and may be rendered in translation as follows: "Alms shall be only for the poor and the destitute; for those that are engaged in the management of alms and those whose hearts are sympathetic to the faith; for the freeing of slaves and debtors; for the advancement of God's cause; and for the traveler in need. That is a duty enjoined by God. God is All-Knowing and Wise." The fitra or zakat-ul-fitr, is a special charity obligation which requires every head of a family to pay a specific amount on behalf of himself, his wife and children, as well as everyone of his dependents. According to leading scholars, it is payable even for an unborn child, once pregnancy is confirmed. It is paid in Ramadan, just before the Eid is due, and its purpose is to make the poor self-sufficient so that they can also celebrate the Eid without having to worry about their food or clothes. Charitable donations or sadaqah is paid for a cause similar to those of ordinary zakah and fitra. An animal sacrificed on the Eid of sacrifice is divided among the family offering the sacrifice, neighbors and relations, and also poor people. Its hide may be either kept by the person offering the sacrifice, or given to a poor person. These are the proper beneficiaries of such charitable acts. Political causes, of any color, do not figure at all among the beneficiaries of such charity. It is certainly forbidden to pay zakah or fitra to a political party, if its only aim is to gain power. But if the political party is Islamically oriented and it has established some charitable activities, such as opening schools in poor and deprived areas, and if such activities have an Islamic orientation, then voluntary charity may be paid to such a political party, provided that it is earmarked for such activities. On the other hand, if the political party functions in a largely non-Muslim country and its program aims to ensure that the rights of the local Muslim community are protected, then it may be helped, provided that its means and tactics are acceptable from the Islamic point of view. The reader asks about political parties which resort to terrorism, misappropriation and killing. Such actions are not approved by Islam. Therefore, charity cannot be paid to an organization which engages in such actions.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )