Amil or those who involved with the administration of zakat need to have the criteria and some kind of quality, among them, are; a mukallaf (religiously responsible), healthy body and knowledgeable about zakat matters. Amil is one of the asnaf which has been agreed upon without the dispute between ulama‘ (scholars) because the Quranic verse has clearly stated this (Refer to the Qur’an, Surah At-Taubah : 60).
However, there are some khilaf (dispute) on the appointment of amil zakat among non-Muslims. The two sides have two views in this regard:
Majority of ulama‘ from the schools of Hanafi, Maliki, Syafie and one of the narrations of Imam Ahmad that it is not permissible to grant zakat to non-Muslim amil. Al-Dusuqiyy in ‘Hashiyat al-Dusuqi Ala al-Sharh al-Kabir’ mentions:
Which means: “The scholars of the Maliki sect are of the view that non-Muslim appointments as amil are permissible. (However) His salaries should be taken from Baitulmal (treasurer) and not from zakat fund as they are not entitled to receive it” (Al-Dusuqiyy: 722)
This view is argued by the general argument prohibiting from appointing Non-Muslims to lead Muslims, as in the word of God in Al-Qur’an:
Which means: “And Allah will not give way to the unbelievers to rule over the believers”. (Al-Qur’an, Surah Al-Nisa’ : 141)
They also say that between the conditions to be amil must be trusted, thus the disbelievers are not eligible to hold the wealth that only devoted to Muslims.
This view is the opinion that should (may) appoint non-Muslims as amil zakat, this is from the second narration of Imam Ahmad. Ibn Qudamah has explained (meaning):
“From Imam Ahmad there is a narrative that allows the amil from non-Muslims based on the general pronouncement of العاملين عليها, it includes the infidels and Muslims, this is because what amil is taking from zakat’s fund is a reward for his work, then there is no barrier to take it like other things” (Ibn Qudamah, al-Mughniyy: 654).
They argue with the generality pronouncing the word of ‘amil’ in the verse asnaf which means all those who are in charge of amil are entitled to zakat’s fund even in whatever capacity. They explain that amil only takes the wages of his work, so he does not need to be banned from taking his wage (Al-Dusuqiyy).
Among the scholars of the Syafie sect who had the same view is Ibn Hajar al-Haithamiyy(Fath al-Bari Sharh Sahih Bukhariy: 329). He mentioned (meaning):
“Zakat is not given to non-Muslims either under the asnaf muallaf or not. Yes, they are allowed to work as clerks, drivers, security guards or the like, even though they are Non-Muslims but are entitled to the salaries from the fund of asnaf amil, as it is calculated as a paid work, not as an asnaf itself”.
To apply this requirement in today’s time, it requires some review on the form of work can be done by non-muslim amil. There is no work that can’t be given to non-Muslim except only to the highly sensitive task which only Muslims can do. However, some job which has no direct relationship with the collection and distributions of zakat, such as front desk officers, regular clerks and general task such as postman, drivers and so on.
In conclusion, originally, amil should be selected among Muslims. However, in certain circumstances, non-Muslims can be given this task if the work is not directly related to the collection or distribution of zakat. Although there is room for non-Muslims to be appointed as amil, however, the authorities, especially the zakat institution, should ensure that this space is not openly unattended for them to manage matters pertaining to Islamic religious affairs including zakat and so forth.