بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
A COMMONLY ASKED QUESTION BY THOSE THAT LIVE IN THE WEST, AND THOSE THAT LIVE IN NON MUSLIM COUNTRIES IS.
CAN ONE GIVE HIS/HER ZAKAT TO NON MUSLIMS?
There are more than 6 views on Zakaat being given to Non-Muslims or Not-Yet Muslims in some cases. I shall list the 4 most prevalent, while the other two not mentioned go inline with one of the main four opinions.
What is Zakaat and who does it go to:
Zakat can be paid to deserving individuals or groups who fall into one or more of eight zakatable categories designated by Allaah in the Quran.
Indeed, [prescribed] charitable offerings are only [to be given] to the poor and the indigent, and to those who work on [administering] it, and to those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to [free] those in bondage, and to the debt-ridden, and for the cause of God, and to the wayfarer. [This is] an obligation from God. And God is all-knowing, all-wise.” (Al-Tawbah, 9:60)
Before we touch on the differing opinions, we must understand the concept of Zakaat and the Order by Allaah for it:
The Qur’an describes Zakat as:
- 1) The means by which to attain Allah’s mercy:
“My Mercy extends to all things. That (Mercy) I shall ordain for those who have God-consciousness and give their Zakat and those who believe in Our Signs.” (Surah Al-A`raf 7:156).
- 2) A precondition to obtain Allah’s help:
“Allah will certainly aid those who aid His (cause); for verily Allah is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to enforce His Will). (They are) those who, if We establish them in the land, establish regular prayer and give their Zakat, enjoin the right and forbid wrong: with Allah rests the outcome of all affairs.” (Surah Al-Hajj 22:40-41).
- 3) A sign of brotherhood in religion:
“But (even so), if they repent, establish regular prayers, and give their Zakat, they are your brethren in Faith.” (Surah Al-Taubah 9:11).
- 4) A distinctive feature of the faithful community:
“The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, pay their Zakat and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His Mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.” (Surah Al-Taubah 9:71).
- 5) A distinctive quality of the believers who go to and maintain mosques:
“The mosques of Allah shall be visited and maintained by such as believe in Allah and the Last Day, establish regular prayers, and pay their Zakat and fear none (at all) except Allah.” (Surah Al-Taubah 9:18).
6) A distinctive quality of the true believers:
“Who are active in paying Zakat.” (Surah Al-Mu’minun 23:4).
And as important as Salah “And establish the prayer and pay the Zakat and bow (in prayer) with those who bow.” (Al-Baqarah: 43)
Zakaat is something that has been divinely ordained and is regarded as the right of both Allah and the poor.
Before we get in to the differing opinions it is worth noting!
There is general agreement by all scholars from the sahaba to our contemproray ulama, that Zakaat is not to be given to anyone who is fighting against Islam and Muslims! This may include the citizens of western countries that many Muslims live in. Just by living in a Western country whose army has waged a war against Islam does not legitimize giving zakat to their citizens. This is a broad stroke ruling, that is agreed upon. The difference of opinion is in the a) combatants or b) whole non-Muslim population. The stronger opinion is that zakaat only goes to the less fortunate and that in this case it includes the whole non-Muslim population, Unless. Unless it is to soften their hearts towards Islam and Muslims. This I will expand on in the second opinion below.
As for Shaikh Ibn AL-Uthaymeen rahimahullaah who was asked the same question, then his response was as follows:
“It is permissible to give charity to non-Muslims and this action will be rewarded, if they are in need of it, but they should not be given the obligatory charity, i.e. zakaat, unless they are those whose hearts are to be softened (i.e., they are close to embracing Islam). It is a condition for giving charity to non-Muslims that they should not be involvied in fighting the Muslims or driving them from their homes, because charity in such cases would be seen as helping them to wage war against the Muslims.
(Fataawa Mutanawwi’ah by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 521). “
“Allaah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allaah loves those who deal with equity. It is only as regards those who fought against you on account of religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and helped to drive you out, that Allaah forbids you to befriend them. And whosoever will befriend them, then such are the zaalimoon (wrong-doers – those who disobey Allaah.)” [al-Mumtahimah 60:8-9].
Muslims should seek first and foremost to give their charity to their Muslim brothers who are in need, and there are plenty of them. And Allaah knows best.” End of Quote
As for others who are non-combatant, and do not show enmity towards Islam and Muslims then scholars differed as to whether such a person can be given Zakat. Though the differing was small it is worth noting as a fiqh point.
Ibn al-Mundhir, in his influential work al-Ijma’: “They have consensus that the Dhimmi is not to be given anything from Zakat of wealth.”
Given the relation of this point of consensus, many scholars followed Ibn al-Mundhir stating that non-Muslims should not be given Zakaat. It is important to note here that the same set of scholars who followed this opinion reiterated the necessity of using other non-Zakaat funds for the welfare of non-Muslims.
There is a difference between giving zakaat directly to non-Muslims and or using the zakat for the welfare of citizens, which may include non-Muslims.
Looking at Ibn al-Mundhir’s statement, and despite the frankness of his assertion, a cursory review of the literature on Zakaat shows that in fact there are variant opinions on this topic.
The Four prevalent stances are as follows:
1: Zakat cannot to be given to non-Muslims in any way shape or form, not even under the account of “those whose hearts are softened.”
- This opinion is the official position of the Hanafi school.
- Basis: Several reports that Umar refused to give Zakat to several people after Islam had become strong.
2: Zakat should only be given to non-Muslims under the account of “those whose hearts are softened”.
- This is the official stance of the other 3 schools.
- Basis: Narrations exist where the Prophet gave non-Muslims Zakat to entice them to become Muslims.
3: That Zakaat should only be given to non-Muslims in the absence of eligible Muslims.
- This was the opinion of Mujahid, the student of Ibn Abbas.
- Basis: The hadith of Muadh states “..taken from their wealthy and given to their rich”, poor non-Muslims being members of communities in which rich Muslim might live.
4: That Zakaat may be given to any person fitting the description given in the verse of Zakaat, regardless of whether this person be Muslim or non-Muslim.
- This was related from Umar, Jabir and others.
- The generality of the verses on Zakaat and charity, which do not in themselves specify one type of person over the other, and instead designate categories.
- Umar was asked about the verse “Charity is only for the destitute.” He said: “They are the disabled from the People of the Book”.
- Jabir ibn Zaid, the famous jurist from the Tabi’in, was asked “Where should be distribute our Zakaat?” He replied: “To the destitute amongst Muslims and Dhimmis.” He then stated “The Messenger of Allah, would distribute to the Dhimmis from both Zakaat and al-Khumus.”
The fourth opinion fits not only the generality of the verse, but the broadest understanding possible of the hadith of Muadh, as well as fitting in with the explanation of Umar of the verse. The unequivocal nature of Ibn al-Mundhir’s statement may become a point that is debated by the modern day Murjiah, however as it stands it is the statement we stand by.
As Shaikh Ibn Al-Uthaymeen said: “Muslims should seek first and foremost to give their charity to their Muslim brothers who are in need, and there are plenty of them.“ And Allaah knows best.
We ask Allah to grant us knowledge of his laws so that we may implement them with hikma and understanding.
والله تعالى أعلم
وصلى اللهم وسلم وبارك على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه والتابعين
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