The following is the translation of an Arabic Q&A from the website of the noble jurist and mufassir Sheikh `Ata’ Ibn Khalil Abu Rashta (Allah preserve him).
It is stated in the book "The one in authority over the Muslims (Khalifah) is entrusted to distribute and dispose of the booties and the spoils of war as he deems it appropriate". Then what sense the stipulation "a fifth share…." does have in the speech of Allah (SWT)? As He (SWT) said:
(واعلموا أنما غنمتم من شيء فأن لله خمسه)
“And know that out of all the booty that you may acquire (in war), a fifth share is assigned to Allah and to the Messenger.”
Does it signify that if Khalifah intends to distribute the booty and gives the bait-ul-mal it share, he is restricted up to the fifth share (this is contrary to what I have understood about this matter) or he can, for example, take half of the booty for bait-ul-mal and distribute the second half among the soldiers.
In short, how to understand the stipulation of fifth share in the verse, as long as the distribution of all the booty is entrusted to the Imam to decide? May Allah bless you.
Allah (SWT) says:
(وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا غَنِمْتُمْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ فَأَنَّ لِلَّهِ خُمُسَهُ وَلِلرَّسُولِ وَلِذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ آمَنْتُمْ بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أَنْزَلْنَا عَلَى عَبْدِنَا يَوْمَ الْفُرْقَانِ يَوْمَ الْتَقَى الْجَمْعَانِ وَاللَّهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ)
(And know that out of all the booty that you may acquire in war, a fifth share is for Allah and the Messenger, and to the near relatives, the orphans, the needy and the wayfarer in need. [This you must observe] if you believe in Allah and what We revealed to Our servant on the day when the true was distinguished from the false, the day when the two hosts met in battle. Allah has power over all things).
The scholars opinions in the interpretation of the Ayah:
Some of them said that Al Khums (the fifth share) has been specified to be divided into five shares: one share to Allah and the Messenger (saw), another for the family of the Messenger (saw), the other three to the orphans, the needy and the wayfarer. According to this opinion, the share of Allah and the Messenger is one.
Some of them said that distribution of Al Khums is specified but to six shares: one share to Allah, one to the Messenger, one for the family of the Messenger (saw), the remaining three to the orphans, the needy and the wayfarer.
Some of them said that it is all for Allah (SWT) and those categories mentioned thereafter are as a way of preference and not for restriction. The Imam may dispose this fifth share for the welfare of the Muslims in accordance with his ijtihaad and the most correct opinion for us is this one. As to why, so it is for the following reason:
Allah (SWT) says: (And know that out of all the booty that you may acquire in war, a fifth share is for Allah and the Messenger, and to the near relatives, the orphans, the needy and the wayfarer in need)
Here we see that the detail has come after generalization. If the detail is aimed at demonstrating the preference of the said categories, it does not suspend the generalization; rather the generality remains as it is. The preference is given to these categories without excluding others i.e. this preference is not intended for restriction.
And therefore it is as such (And know that out of all the booty that you may acquire in war, a fifth share is for Allah…), i.e. are means for drawing closer to Allah (SWT). Then He (SWT) mentioned some segments preferred to others, in order to get closer to Allah (SWT) and not for restriction.
It should be noted that the word used "Annama (whatever)" is not "Innama (only)". Rather, it is Annama i.e. whatever, so the verse means whatever booty you may acquire in war.
Example of such language and expression is cited in this Ayah:
(مَنْ كَانَ عَدُوًّا لِلَّهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَجِبْرِيلَ وَمِيكَالَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَدُوٌّ لِلْكَافِرِينَ)
(Whoever is an enemy to Allah, His Angels, His Messengers, Jibrael (Gabriel) and Mikael (Michael), then verily, Allah is an enemy to the disbelievers).
So, mentioning of Gabriel and Michael after the angels does not signify that the hostility restricted to only Gabriel and Michael and whoever shows enmity toward other categories of angels, it is not applicable to them. Rather, the particularization of Gabriel and Michael has come after generalization of the angels, and it is due to certain feature in Gabriel and Michael in terms of preference, without calling off the generalization of angels.
And thus, the phrase, (for the Messenger, and to the near relatives, the orphans, the needy and the wayfarer in need) is particularization of certain segments after the generalization, in order to get closer to Allah through every aspects of charity (a fifth share is for Allah)… i.e. it falls under the category of "particularization after the generalization" due to the trait in the aforesaid categories in terms of great reward. This view is confirmed by the point that the Ayah did not say "فأن خمسه لله وللرسول وَلِذِي الْقُرْبَى...", nor did it say "فأن لله وللرسول ولذي القربى واليتامى والمساكين وابن السبيل خمسه...", for it is equal between the two ends in being subject and predicate i.e. from grammatical point of view. So, the meaning of the sentence is not complete except with their completion. Rather, the noble Ayah was stated as (a fifth share is for Allah) i.e. the sentence can be completed here.
Therefore, the preferable to us is what we have mentioned in Al-Amwal (the Funds book), i.e. the categories stated in the Ayah are not for restricting the aspects of khums disbursement. Rather, Al Khums (the fifth share) is deposited in Bait-Al-Mal and is spent based on the opinion and ijtihaad of Khalifa in the best interests of Muslims. However, it is the best to spend Al Khums in the said categories if all or any of them exists, or else the Imam may utilize it in the best interests of Muslims, i.e. in looking after their affairs, fulfilling their needs and maintaining their security etc.
For your information, Imam Malik says concerning the distribution of Al Khums, it belongs to Imam to utilize it in the interests of Muslims.
3th Rabi-ul-Awwal 1433 AH.
26th January, 2012 CE.