Wa`alaykum As-Salamu Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.
In The Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear sister Altaf, thank you very much for your interesting question and we implore Allah to guide you to the best, and make our efforts meet your expectations.
In his response to the question,Dr. Muzzamil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Soceity of North America, states the following:
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 :60)
The expression “in the cause of Allah” orfi Sabil Allahwas generally interpreted“Jihad fi Sabil Allah”and so many jurists restricted thisZakahexpense for this purpose.
Muslim jurists also say that in the Qur’an Allah used the word“Lil fuqara’ wa Al-masakinor ‘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 orTamlik Al-Zakah.
Since in public and social welfare projects no one becomes the owner, so, according to their interpretation theZakahshould 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 theMasajid, 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 concerningZakah.
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 and it should not be restricted to Jihad only. 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 theZakahmoney to finance theDa’wahand 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 bookFiqh Az-Zakah, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, has thoroughly discussed this subject. His Fatwa is that in non-Muslim countries it is permissible to useZakahfunds to build theMasajid, 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 theirZakahfor 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 theirZakahto buildMasajidand schools in other countries.
It is ‘fi Sabil Allah’ and it is helping the Islamic cause in many lands where it would have been very difficult to establish Islamic institutions and Mosques without it.
Zakahis 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 thanZakah. However, it is not forbidden for Muslims to give theirZakahmoney for the building of Mosques and schools, especially in non-Muslim countries.
Islamic centers should have a separateZakahfund. Those who do not want theirZakahto be used in building projects, should give their money to theZakahfund. But those who want to give theirZakahfor theMasjidconstruction they should donate directly to that project.”
If you have any further comments, please don’t hesitate to write back!
May Allah guide you to the straight path, and guide you to that which pleases Him, Amen.