1. INTRODUCTION TO ZAKAT
Zakat is the third of five core pillars of Islam and by Qur’anic ranking, is next after Prayer in importance. It has been interlinked with Prayer 28 times in the Qur’an. The distribution of Zakat and its use has been outlined in the Qur’an, demonstrated in the prophetic traditions and explained further by the Islamic scholars of the past and present.
The following verse outlines the recipients:
“Sadaqah (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)
2. COSARAF’s ZAKAT DISTRIBUTION CATEGORIES
COSARAF’s Zakat is spent in the following categories only:
1. al-Fuqara’ (the poor)
2. al-Masakin (the needy)
3. al-Amilin (administrators)
4. al-Gharimin (the debtors)
5. Ibn Sabil (Wayfarers)
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 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 current basic living costs for himself and his dependents is poor.
Zakat administrators refers to those who collect and distribute Zakat. An organisation which provides aid to 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. For COSARAF, this means that trustees will allow up to a maximum of 12.5% of Zakat funds provided to a project to cover the fees of Muslim Zakat administrators for relevant projects. For clarity, this amount will not be used directly for logistical and operational work of the projects. The Zakat will be used to cover the direct expenses of the team involved in delivering the Zakat.
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.
Ibn Sabil refers to any person who is temporarily stranded and has no access to their funds. This category is useful for overseas Zakat distribution where people have fled conflict or have suffered from a natural disaster.
3. ZAKAT SCREENING CRITERIA
Every applicant must go through qualitative and financial screenings as follows:
Qualitative screening criteria:
All applicants must fulfil the following criteria:
1. The applicant must be Muslim
2. The reason for applying to COSARAF must be Shariah compliant.
3. The beneficiary must be an individual in need and not just a service. Zakat cannot be used to fund services to people directly unless the beneficiary consents to using their Zakat payment to fund a service.
4. The applicant cannot be to pay for running costs and overheads of schools, mosques etc.
5. The applicant cannot be from the family of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They will be honoured with Sadaqah.
6. The applicant cannot be an immediate family member of any Zakat payer through COSARAF.
Financial screening criteria:
1. An applicant must be regarded as Faqir (poor) from a Shariah perspective according to the Hanafi definition of poverty.
2. Local applicants’ net wealth must be below the Gold Nisab (threshold) to be eligible for Zakat (c.£3800 as of May 2020). Overseas distribution will be based on the Silver Nisab [c.£245 as of May 2020).
3. Poverty in the context of Zakat is ascertained by the following:
The following asset values must be considered in the application form:
a. An applicant’s gold and silver assets,
b. cash assets,
c. business stock,
d. receivables of loans and sales,
e. investments in Zakatable assets
The following debts can be deducted:
a. Any outstanding Shariah compliant debt which is payable within the calendar month.
b. Any amount saved to pay off a Shariah compliant debt which is payable within the next 12 months.
If the net value is below the Gold Nisab, the applicant will be eligible for Zakat.
4. APPLICANT ASSESSMENT
For hardship grants, the following documentation is required and must be reviewed:
o Bank statements wherever possible
o ID of all beneficiaries
o Proof of debt/loans
o Legal/governmental/financial/referral correspondences
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.
5. ZAKAT DISTRIBUTION PRINCIPLES
1. Zakat should be distributed within one year of collection. The Zakat account should be cleared annually.
2. 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.
3. The Zakat payment should be unconditional.
4. A service cannot be stipulated in lieu of a Zakat payment.
6. OVERSEAS CRITERIA
1. Any Muslim in a warzone and crisis who is needy
2. Any Muslim in a poor country who is poor with net wealth below the silver Nisab (poverty line).
Beneficiaries must be poor according to the Zakat threshold. Local standards as determined by eligibility criteria set by the Foundation from time to time, and in accordance with the Foundation’s Grant-Making Policy will also be considered in the process of supporting beneficiaries.
7. ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE
Before any Zakat donation is made, the Foundation staff team will undertake an assessment for trustees’ consideration as to whether the payment is 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, and any external legal advice.