In the Name of Allah—the Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.
Whatever you lend out in usury to gain value through other people’s wealth will not increase with God, but whatever you give in charity, in your desire for God’s pleasure, will earn a manifold increase. (Qur’an 30:39)
This has been compiled following discussions with the Trustees and Mufti Faraz Adam of the National Zakat Foundation. It should be reviewed on a regular basis.
Categories of Zakat
The following verse outlines the recipients:
“Ṣadaqah (Zakat) is for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [Zakaat] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveller – an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.” (Quran 9:60)
The above verse singles out eight types of people deemed eligible to receive Zakat.
They have been identified as:
• Al-Fuqara’ (The poor)
• Al-Masakin (The needy)
• Al-Amilina Alayha (Administrators of Zakat)
• Al-Mu’allafah Qulubuhum (Reconciliation of Hearts)
• Fir-Riqab (those in Bondage)
• Al-Gharimin (Those in Debt)
• Fī-Sabilillah (In the Cause of Allah)
• Ibn al-Sabil (The Wayfarer)
Al-Fuqara’ (The Poor) and al-Masakin (The Needy)
All the scholars agree that al-Fuqara’ and al-Masakin are those who do not own sufficient wealth. However, they differ on the poverty line and the difference between two categories:
• The poverty line. The Hanafi school have used the Zakat Nisab as the poverty line to distinguish between the poor and wealthy. A person who owns wealth which is less than the Nisab, is considered poor. The Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali consider sufficiency as the distinguishing factor. Whoever does not own sufficient money to meet their basic living costs for himself and his dependents is poor.
The scholars have debated over the technical difference between these two categories. One opinion suggests that a person who has absolutely nothing in terms of wealth and assets is from the al-Masakin. Whereas, a person who has some wealth but less than sufficiency or less than Nisab is from the al-Fuqara’. The Foundation can assist eligible needy people in different countries.
Al-Amilina Alayha (Administrators of Zakat)
Zakat administrators refers to those who collect and distribute Zakat. An organisation which provides aid a group of needy people, collects and distributes Zakat to them, can take a percentage of the Zakat to cover the salaries of the Muslim workers. The Shafi’i school limits this to 12.5% of the collected Zakat funds.
In terms of who and what can be paid from this category, the scholars state that a Muslim administrator can receive his salary from the Zakat funds.
Al-Mu’allafah Qulubuhum: Reconciliation of Hearts
Zakat was used as an incentive, a means of da’wah and to bring people closer to Islam and Muslims. The scholars have mentioned the following types of people who were given Zakat to soften their hearts and to draw them closer to Islam and the Muslims:
• Those who were inclined to accepting Islam
• Those who were enemies of Islam from whom harm was perceived
• Those who had just embraced Islam
Contemporary scholars state that the use of this category should be restricted to those in an Islamic government or a position of authority. Shaykh al-Qardawi mentions that a Zakat payer can only pay to ‘mu’allafah al-Qulub’ when no other category is available and within reach.
The category of mu’allafah al-Qulub is the only category within which there is scope to give Zakat to a non-Muslim. However, this category is often disputed and there is very little research done on the contemporary application of this category. Therefore, a charity should avoid this category for the time being.
Fir-Riqab: For those in bondage
Zakat can be used to free Muslims in slavery, captivity or bondage. The following fall under this category:
• Slaves whose freedom was conditional on a payment. The slaves were required to buy themselves out of slavery by paying their master an agreed amount. Zakat was used to assist such Muslim slaves to pay off the debt owed to the master.
• Normal slaves. Some scholars permitted the purchasing of normal slaves outright from Zakat funds.
• A Muslim prisoner. The Hanbali school have expressly permitted the paying of Zakat to help free Muslim inmates and captives.
Al-Gharimin: Those in Debt
Zakat may be given to those in debt. The Hanafi school permit the payment of Zakat to any person whose liabilities exceed his Zakatable and surplus assets. Such a person is in debt. It is not necessary to give the Zakat in his hand. Zakat can be given to the creditor on behalf of the debtor with the latter’s acknowledgement.
Fi-Sabilillah: In the Cause of Allah
Although all scholars agree that this refers Muslims serving in the army who are in need, some scholars have held broader understandings of this term. Contemporary scholars have included activists and those who counter anti-Islam narrative. Scholars who are engaged in spreading Islam and doing da’wah work are also considered to fall under this category.
Ibn as-Sabil: The Wayfarer
A wayfarer refers to a person who does not have access to his funds despite being wealthy.
• Zakat should be distributed within one year of collection. The Zakat account should be cleared annually.
• Zakat does not necessarily have to be paid in cash. Zakat can be distributed in kind as long as the value covers the Zakat liability.
• The Zakat payment should be unconditional
• A service cannot be stipulated in lieu of a Zakat payment
Zakat recipients and beneficiaries have different challenges depending on their geographical location. Therefore, it is advisable to use the different Islamic criteria we have to assess beneficiaries:
• Any Muslim in a warzone and crisis who apparently seems needy can be assisted with Zakat.
• Any Muslim in a poor country who seems to be poor with net wealth below the silver Nisab (poverty line) which is approx £250 at present.
• Homeless Muslims can be given Zakat based on their apparent condition.
• Any Muslim who is struggling to meet his basic costs and living expenses can be assisted with Zakat. Zakat can be given to help him cover his costs.
• A Muslim in debt whose annual debt amount exceeds his current net wealth can receive Zakat.
Where Zakat cannot be spent
• A wealthy person
• A non-Muslim
• Running expenses and overheads of mosques, schools etc.
• Construction costs
• The family of the Prophet (anyone who claims to be from the noble family of the prophet should not be given Zakat, they should be helped through Sadaqah)
• One’s lineal ascendants and descendants
• One’s spouse
Personal assets such as one’s house, car, clothes, household appliances, technological devices are not taken into consideration when assessing a beneficiary. The recipient may own a house and a car, yet he may still receive Zakat.
The individual’s net wealth is taken into consideration.
Before any Zakat donation is made, the Foundation staff team will undertake an assessment for trustees’ consideration as to whether the payment in in line with this policy.
If there is uncertainty on the part of the Foundation staff as to whether a donation would be in line with this Policy, the matter will be referred to Mufti Faraz Adam for his advice.
The trustees will satisfy themselves that all proposed donations are in line with this Policy – as well as in line with the Foundation’s Charitable Objects – taking into account the advice of the staff team and, where applicable, Mufti Faraz Adam.