Sunday, March 09, 2008

Q&A: Giving Zakah for other than basic needs?

The following is a translation from Arabic.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


It has been said in our books that a poor person is one who does not have sufficient resources to satisfy his basic needs (food, clothing and shelter) and zakat can be paid to him. But there are other needs which are almost similar to the basic needs and the Islamic State used to fulfill such needy persons from the bait ul maal of the Muslims like education, marriage assistance, medical treatment etc... In these times, we do not have an Islamic State that fulfills such needs, hence the question is:

Is it possible to pay for such needs from zakat under?
1. Non-existence of an Islamic State to cover such needs.
2. Certain jurists (Fuqaha) have permitted this under specific conditions.
3. These needs are not novelty or luxury needs but are similar to basic needs.
Then, if we were to follow the jurists’ opinion, would we be violating from the adoption?


When we defined a needy person (faqeer), who can be paid from zakat, we defined him as one who does not have resources to fulfill his basic needs. This was based upon evidences and described in the book “The Economic System” page 213 lines 4-13 (Arabic version), therein we said: “

Islam considers poverty as one matter for a man in any country and any generation. Poverty in the view of Islam, is the non-satisfaction of the basic needs in a complete way. Shar’a has defined these basic needs in three things, which are food, clothing and accommodation.

Allah (swt) said:

{وَعلَى الْمَوْلُودِ لَهُ رِزْقُهُنَّ وَكِسْوَتُهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ لاَ تُكَلَّفُ نَفْسٌ إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا لاَ تُضَآرَّ وَالِدَةٌ بِوَلَدِهَا وَلاَ مَوْلُودٌ لَّهُ بِوَلَدِهِ وَعَلَى الْوَارِثِ مِثْلُ ذَلِكَ }

“but the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother's food and clothing on a reasonable basis. No person shall have a burden laid on him greater than he can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child, nor father on account of his child. And on the (father's) heir is incumbent the like of that (which was incumbent on the father)”. [TMQ al-Baqarah: 233]

And Allah (swt) said:

{أَسْكِنُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ سَكَنتُم مِّن وُجْدِكُمْ }

“Lodge them (the divorced women) where you dwell, according to your means,” [TMQ at Talaaq: 06]

Ibn Majah narrated from Abu Al-Ahwass that he said, The Messenger of Allah said:

«ألا وحقهن عليكم أن تحسنوا إليهن في كسوتهن وطعامهن»

“Beware! Their right upon you is to provide them their clothes and food seemly.” This indicates that the basic needs, whose non-satisfaction is considered as poverty, are food, clothing and accommodation.

Also in the book “The Funds in the Khilafah State”, page 197 lines 10-13 (Arabic versions) we said:

The needy persons are those income is not sufficient to fulfill their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. So a persons who earns less than what is required to fulfill his basic needs, is considered to be a needy person and is allowed to be given from sadaqah and is permitted to accept it.

And this is our preferred position on the issue.

As for the questioner’s statement that since an Islamic State does not exist to pay for these needs, yes indeed there is no Islamic State, but there are Muslims. The correct position is that the Muslims pay such needy persons from their wealth and not from their zakat, while paying the zakat to the poor persons for their basic needs. They must pay form their excess wealth to such persons to cover their above mentioned requirements (education, marriage assistance, medical treatment).

As for this being in violation of the adoption, if the questioner follows the opinion of the faqeeh or mujtahid and pays from his zakat to pay for these non-basic needs (education, marriage assistance, medical treatment), thereby reducing from zakat to pay for the basic needs (food, clothing and shelter), then yes indeed it is a violation of the adopted position. But we do not administratively penalise on such violation. Thus a persons who follows the opinion of a preferred faqeeh or mujtahid to pay from his zakat for non-basic needs (education, marriage assistance, medical treatment), we do not administratively penalise him, his actions are with Allah (swt) to account for.

13th Muharram 1429 A.H
21st January, 2008 C.E

Arabic Source


Amro Younes said...

I don't understand how you consider medical treatment not a basic need. A child with a bad heart valve that needs surgery to live is a basic need in my opinion as much as food and water is. As such I see that Zakat to this child's family who cannot afford treatment is a basic need that should be fulfilled with Zakat!

Anonymous said...

there are many basic need but in the context of Islam & Paying the Zakat to needy person the basic need are Cloth , Food & Shelter. For other needs people should pay from their wealth but not from their Zakat.