Is it permissible to give my zakat to any Islamic school or to my masjid for their expenses such as rent, utilities, renovation, etc?
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings are upon His Messenger. Indeed, it is the duty and responsibility of the rich Muslims of each community in the East or West to finance the mosques and Islamic schools. They should not, by any means, exploit zakat, the right of the poor, for such purposes, which may badly influence the poor reducing the amount of zakat that they receive.
In his response to this question, Dr. Monzer Kahf, a prominent economist and counselor, states,
“If the question is for America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the like, my answer is definitely NO. Mosques are always necessary for any Muslim community to maintain their religion and that of their children. The Shari`ah principle is that any Muslim community must have a mosque and other community facilities, and mosques should be established and spent on by members of the community outside the zakat which is a right of the poor and the needy.
In the past Muslims in these countries were very poor (students and poor Afro-American converts) and have no means and were endangered to lose their very religion, then the Fatwa was it is permissible on the ground that preservation of their religion is a part of “fi sabilil-llah” as an exception from the principle which prohibits using zakat for mosques.
Now, this exception does not apply anymore as Muslims in these countries have become well-to-do and able to spend on their mosques. It is the responsibility of the rich Muslims to spend on mosques in these countries not the responsibility of the poor because spending zakat on mosques means charging these expenses to the poor who have the right to this zakat.
As for schools, the matter is even stricter because educating Muslim children is the responsibility of their parents, more specifically their fathers; it is not the responsibility of the poor or even other members of the Muslim community.
Poor Muslim families who cannot afford Muslim schools fees may be paid from zakat on the basis of needs and poverty and they are of course free to use whatever they receive for food, school tuitions or any other expenses of their own. ZAKAT MUST NOT BE PAID TO THE SCHOOL FOR THESE FAMILIES.”
**Other scholars might have a different opinion on this topic, and I will tell it on another day.
And Allah Almighty knows best.