Impact of Zakat on the Muslim

There is no doubt that Zakat (obligatory charity) has a great impact on both the person who pays it, and on the society as a whole. Among its impacts are the following:

It purifies the person who gives it from sins and acts of disobedience he committed; Allah Says (what means): {Take, [O Muhammad sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) ], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase.}[Quran 9:103]. Moreover, it is confirmed that the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “Charity wipes out the sin exactly as water extinguishes the fire.” [At-Tirmithi]

It results in the increase and blesses of the money; linguistically, Zakat means to bless, increase, or purify. Allah Says (what means): {But whatever thing you spend [in His cause] – He will compensate it; and He is the best of providers.}[Quran 34:39]. Besides, it is confirmed that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “I swear by Allah on the following three things: ….(and he mentioned) charity does not decrease the wealth of the person who gives it.” [At-Tirmithi]

It fulfills the need of the needy; this leads to the spread of security in the society, as theft and robbery will decrease. It also means harmony in the society.

The above are some fruits yielded by the payment of Zakat, and whoever wants to find out more in this regard may refer to the books of the scholars may Allah have mercy upon them on this subject.

Allah Knows best.

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Paying Zakat in Installments?

As one year completed on my savings I had to pay Zakat on it but I didn’t have enough money to pay so I paid 1/3, and say as I get more money I will pay later. Before few days I had money so I put out remained Zakat which I had to pay, but here I didn’t find any one to give Zakat. I keep that money separate but I didn’t give to any one, now after few days I have had more savings so kindly tell me should I give Zakat on that new sabings or give when one year will have been passed?

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, may Allah exalt his mention as well as that of his family and all his companions.

Every savings that reaches the minimum amount liable for Zakat, which is 85 grams of gold, and if a whole lunar year elapses on it. In this case Zakat has to be paid on it immediately and it should not be delayed, except for a short period if one does not find a poor person to give it out to, or due to waiting for the return of a relative to give it to him and the like.

Ibn Qudamah, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘If one delays paying the Zakat in order to give it to a relative who deserves it, or someone who is very much in need for it, it is permissible to wait for a short period, but it would not be permissible if one has to wait for a long period.”

As regards delaying the payment of Zakat on this savings because of the lack of cash money, then this is not a sound excuse, but it is an obligation to give a portion of this money to the people who are eligible for Zakat.

Allah knows best.


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Zakat: Meaning, Ruling and Benefits

The literal meaning of “Zakat” is purity. Its Islamic technical meaning designates the annual amount of wealth, food, property, etc. which a Muslim with adequate means must distribute among the rightful beneficiaries.

Zakat is a remarkable institution and a major pillar of Islam. Allah, Almighty, Says (what means): “And establish the Prayer, and pay Zakat (the poor-due)…” [Quran, 2:43]

Moreover, Zakat is an obligatory act because it is one of the pillars of Islam: The Prophet SAW (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “Islam was built upon five (pillars): `The testimony that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; the establishment of the prayer; paying the obligatory charity (Zakat); pilgrimage to the House (Hajj to the Kaaba in Makkah) and fasting (the month of) Ramadan.”‘ [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Zakat is a small portion of the Muslim’s wealth that must be given to the poor or to other specified beneficiaries. Whoever claims that Zakat is not obligatory and refuses to pay it, is not a Muslim, but a Muslim who refuses to pay Zakat due to stinginess, while affirming its obligation, has committed a great sin for which one will be severely punished.

Allah, Almighty, Says (what means): “…and as for those who hoard treasures of gold and silver, and do not spend them for the sake of Allah, announce unto them a painful torment. On the Day when that [hoarded wealth] shall be heated in the Fire of Hell and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, (and it will be said unto them): `This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves. Now taste of what you used to hoard.” [Quran 9: 34-35]

He, Almighty, also Says (what means): “And let not those who covetously withhold of that which Allah has bestowed on them of His Bounty (Wealth) think that it is good for them (and so they do not pay Zakat). No, it will be worse for them; the things which they covetously withheld will be tied to their necks like a collar on the Day of Resurrection…” [Quran 3:180]

There is no equivalent in any other language to the word “Zakat” and the meaning it conveys. It is not just a form of charity, or alms-giving or tax or tithe. Nor, is it simply an expression of kindness; it is all of these combined and much more. It is a duty enjoined by Allah and a source of purification for the individual and society as a whole.

He, Almighty, Says (what means): “Take from their wealth ‘sadaqah’ (Zakat) in order to purify them and sanctify them with it.” [Quran 9: 103]

Zakat benefits society in many ways. Here is an explanation of the far-reaching effects of it:

  1. Zakat purifies the individual and his wealth. The status of his wealth is increased with Allah and in turn, he will be rewarded. When a person becomes liable for paying Zakat, a certain percentage of his wealth should be distributed immediately in the correct manner, because at that point, the wealth which is to be distributed does not belong to him. If this wealth is retained, it spoils the status of all of his wealth.
  2. Zakat does not only purify the property of the one who gives it, but it also purifies his heart from selfishness and greed. In return, it purifies the heart of the recipient from envy and jealousy, and it fosters in his heart goodwill and warm wishes toward the contributor. As a result, the rich and poor of society are bound together as a unit, working together and helping one another.
  3. Zakat decreases the sufferings of the needy and poor members of society, however, those in need should not depend on it completely.
  4. Zakat is an effective means of developing the spirit of social responsibility on the part of the well-to-do, and the feeling of security and belonging on the part of the underprivileged.
  5. Zakat is a clear manifestation of the spiritual and humanitarian interactions between the individual and society. It is a sound illustration of the fact that though Islam does not hinder private enterprise or condemn private possessions, it does not tolerate selfish and greedy control of wealth and property. It is an expression of the general philosophy of Islam which adopts a moderate and effective course between the Individual and Society.

In conclusion, we mention a calling by Allah, Almighty (what means): “O You who believe! Shall I lead you to a bargain that will save you from grievous suffering [in this world and in the life to come)? You are to believe in Allah and His Messenger and strive hard in Allah’s cause with your possessions and your lives: this is for your own good – if you had known it.” [Qur’an, 61: 10-11]

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Giving Food

Giving Food in Surah Al-Insan (No.76):

This is a good gesture of Allah’s Mercy to Mention giving food in a Surah that is entitled “Al-Insan”. Allah The Exalted Says (what means): {And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive…} [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Insan, verse 8]

Ibn ‘Abbas and Mujahid said, “This verse denotes that they feed the needy, the orphan and the captive despite the scarcity of food and their need and love for it.”

What about you and your food?

How great a deed is feeding the hungry in our time!

Allah The Exalted Says (what means): {Or feeding on a day of severe hunger…} [Quran 90:14]

An-Nakha‘i commented on this verse saying, “They feed the hungry at times when food is not ample.”

Mohammed ibn Al-Munkadir said, “Feeding hungry Muslims guarantees the forgiveness of sins.” He also said on another occasion: “Feeding the hungry and saying kind words to others usher you to Paradise.”

Dear brother and sister, you may notice how our days – in some Muslim countries – have turned into days of severe hunger. Food has become scarce and meat has also become scarce as well as being too expensive for the poor.

What about you, dear readers? What about your food?

An Explicit Command:

Feeding people in general and a hungry person, in particular, has been explicitly mentioned in the command of the Messenger of Allah SAW. Abu Moosa Al-Ash‘ari, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet SAW said: “Feed the hungry, pay a visit to the sick and free the captives.” [Saheeh] A reported saying reads, “The best charity is to satisfy a hungry person.” Alas, a Muslim may sit at an Iftar table with delicious and tasty dishes while his neighbors break their fast with a few morsels of food if they can be found!

The Righteous Predecessors

Our righteous predecessors were keen to feed people and favored this act of worship over many others, whether it was for a hungry poor person or feeding a righteous Muslim. Poverty is not an essential condition in this regard. The Messenger of Allah SAW said: “O people! Spread the Islamic greetings amongst yourselves, feed the hungry, maintain kinship relations, observe prayer at night while people are asleep and you will peacefully enter the Paradise.” [Saheeh]

Some of the righteous predecessors said, “It is better for me to invite ten of my friends and feed them delicious food that they like than freeing ten slaves from the children of Isma‘eel (i.e. Arabs).”

Abu As-Siwar Al-‘Adawi said, “Some men from the ‘Uday tribe used to pray in this mosque and none of them would break his fast alone. If one found someone to eat with, he would eat. If he could not find someone to eat with, he would take his food and go to the mosque to share it with the people in the mosque.”

Fruits of Feeding the Hungry:

The act of worship of feeding the hungry gives rise to many other acts of worship such as showing affection towards one’s fellow Muslims whom he feeds and this can be a reason for him being granted Paradise. The Prophet SAW said: “You shall not enter Paradise as long as you do not affirm belief (in all those things which are the articles of faith) and you will not believe as long as you do not love one another.” [Muslim]

It also gives rise to (the act of worship) being in the company of righteous people and hoping for the rewards of Allah The Almighty in offering them food as they gain strength to perform acts of worship.

Food Baskets:

Some righteous predecessors used to send their friends a basket full of sugar or other such food.

Yunus ibn ‘Ubayd Yahdi said, “I gave a basket of sugar to Al-Hasan Al-Basri as a gift and I have not seen any sugar better than this one. He opened the basket and said to his companions, “Eat and enjoy.”

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The Virtue of Charity

Abu Huraira narrated that Allah’s Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

A man-made an intention that he would give something in charity. He went out with his object of charity and unknowingly gave it to a thief. The next morning the people said that he had given in charity to a thief.

(On hearing that) he said: “O Allah! All the praise is to You. I will give in charity again.”

And so he again went out to give charity, but he (unknowingly) gave it to an adulteress. The next morning the people said that he had given his alms to an adulteress last night.

The man said: “O Allah! All the praise is to You. (I had given in charity) to an adulteress. I will give in charity again.”

So he went out with his charity again and he (unknowingly) gave it to a rich person. (The people) The next morning said that he had given his charity to a wealthy person.

He said: “O Allah! All the praise is to You. (I had given in charity) to a thief, to an adulteress and to a wealthy man.”

Then someone came to him in his dream and said to him:”The alms which you gave to the thief, might make him abstain from stealing, and that given to the adulteress might make her abstain from illegal sexual intercourse (adultery), and that given to the wealthy man might make him take a lesson from it and spend his wealth which Allah has given him, in Allah’s cause.”

From this story, we learn that we shouldn’t always take a person’s actions on face value alone. Although the man’s charity didn’t go to a needy person directly, it can still yield benefits. We must note that the man did not give in charity to the types of people mentioned knowingly, rather his intention was sincere and he only found out afterward that he had given the money to a thief, adulterer, and a wealthy person, so we know from this that we can’t hide under a sincere intention when we know the action itself is incorrect.

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Giving Charity Brings More Sustenance.

Islam encourages its followers to give charity. There are many verses of the Qur’an that recommend Muslims to give charity. Among them is verse (ayat) 254, in Chapter 2 (Surah Al-Baqarah):

Which means: “O ye who believe! Spend out of what (the bounties) We have provided for you, before the Day comes when no bargaining (will avail), nor friendship nor intercession. Those who reject Faith they are the wrong-doers.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Baqarah, verse 254].

Giving charity (sadaqah) comes from the word al-sidqu which means true. It means that giving sadaqah is proof that one truly believes in his religion. A believer will be in the shelter of his sadaqah on the Day of Judgment. The Prophet (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him [pbuh]) said in a Hadith which was narrated by Ibn Hibban:

Which means: “Everyone is under the shelter of his sadaqah until he is judged.” [Narrated by Ibn Hibban].

Giving sadaqah does not lessen one’s sustenance or wealth as some people think. In fact, sadaqah opens the door to a person’s sustenance. The Prophet (pbuh) said in a Hadith which was narrated by Imam Muslim:

Which means: “Charity (sadaqah) does not in any way decrease the wealth”. [Narrated by Muslim].

Islam encourages us to give sadaqah especially when we have the desire to be rich but feel afraid to give charity thinking that it will make us poor. The Prophet (pbuh) said in a Hadith which was narrated by Imam al-Bukhari and Muslim:

Which means: “A man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (pbuh), which charity is the most superior in reward?” He replied, “The charity which you practice while you are healthy, niggardly and afraid of poverty and wish to become wealthy…” [Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim].

The angels will pray to Allah the Almighty to replace all the wealth that is spent by those who give sadaqah. The Prophet (pbuh) said in a Hadith which was narrated by Imam al-Bukhari and Muslim:

Which means: “There is never a day wherein servants (of God) get up at morn, but are not visited by two angels. One of them says: 0 Allah, give him more who spends (for the sake of Allah), and the other says: 0 Allah, bring destruction to one who withholds.” [Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim].

Allah the Almighty will also ease the affairs of a person who spends his wealth to facilitate other people’s problems in this world and in the hereafter. The Prophet (pbuh) said in a Hadith which was narrated by Imam Muslim:

Which means: “Whoever facilitates the affairs of a person in distress, Allah the Almighty will facilitate his affairs in this world and in the hereafter….” [Narrated by Muslim].

Allah the Almighty also promises a reward for the people who spend their wealth for the sake of Allah as He mentioned in the Quran in Chapter 8 (Surah Al-Anfal), verse (ayat) 60:

Which means: “… Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Anfal, verse 60].

Giving sadaqah will not make us poor. On the contrary, this practice opens up the door to more sustenance from Allah the Almighty. Let us give sadaqah to the needy but at the same time, we must not forget our responsibility to give the obligatory sadaqah known as zakat. We must realize that regardless of how much we give in sadaqah it will not lift our obligation to pay zakat. Let us ponder the appeal from Allah the Almighty as stated in the Quran in Chapter 2 (Surah Al-Baqarah), verse (ayat) 245:

Which means: “Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He may multiply it for him many times over? And it is Allah who withholds and grants abundance, and to Him you will be returned.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Baqarah, verse 245].

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The Third Pillar of Islam: Compulsory Charity (Zakat)

An introduction to the third pillar of Islam, the compulsory charity or zakat, the spiritual dimensions of zakat and charity, and how Islam views money in general.

Charity is not just recommended by Islam, it is required of every financially stable Muslim. Giving charity to those who deserve it is part of Muslim character and one of the Five Pillars of Islamic practice. Zakat is viewed as “compulsory charity”; it is an obligation for those who have received their wealth from God to respond to those members of the community in need. Devoid of sentiments of universal love, some people know only to hoard wealth and to add to it by lending it out on interest. Islam’s teachings are the very antithesis of this attitude. Islam encourages the sharing of wealth with others and helps people to stand on their own and become productive members of society.

In Arabic, it is known as zakat which literally means “purification”, because zakat is considered to purify one’s heart of greed. Love of wealth is natural and it takes a firm belief in God for a person to part with some of his wealth. Zakat must be paid on different categories of property — gold, silver, money; livestock; agricultural produce; and business commodities — and is payable each year after one year’s possession. It requires an annual contribution of 2.5 percent of an individual’s wealth and assets.

Like prayer, which is both an individual and communal responsibility, zakat expresses a Muslim’s worship of and thanksgiving to God by supporting those in need. In Islam, the true owner of things is not man, but God. Acquisition of wealth for its own sake, or so that it may increase a man’s worth, is condemned. Mere acquisition of wealth counts for nothing in the sight of God. It does not give a man any merit in this life or in the hereafter. Islam teaches that people should acquire wealth with the intention of spending it on their own needs and the needs of others.

“‘Man’, said the Prophet, ‘says: My wealth! My wealth!’ Have you not any wealth except that which you give as alms and thus preserve, wear and tatter, eat and use up?”

The whole concept of wealth is considered in Islam as a gift from God. God, who provided it to the person, made a portion of it for the poor, so the poor have a right over one’s wealth. Zakat reminds Muslims that everything they have belongs to God. People are given their wealth as a trust from God, and zakat is intended to free Muslims from the love of money. The money paid in zakat is not something God needs or receives. He is above any type of dependency. God, in His boundless mercy, promises rewards for helping those in need with one basic condition that zakat is paid in the name of God; one should not expect or demand any worldly gains from the beneficiaries nor aim at making one’s name as a philanthropist. The feelings of a beneficiary should not be hurt by making him feel inferior or reminding him of the assistance.

Money given as zakat can only be used for certain specific things. Islamic Law stipulates that alms are to be used to support the poor and the needy, to free slaves and debtors, as specifically mentioned in the Quran (Surah at-Taubah [9]:  verse 60). Zakat, which developed fourteen hundred years ago, functions as a form of social security in a Muslim society.

Neither Jewish nor Christian scriptures praise slave manumission by raising it to worship. Indeed, Islam is unique in world religions in requiring the faithful to financially help slaves win their freedom and has raised the manumission of a slave to an act of worship – if it is done to please God.

Under the caliphates, the collection and expenditure of zakat was a function of the state. In the contemporary Muslim world, it has been left up to the individual, except in some countries in which the state fulfills that role to some degree. Most Muslims in the West disperse zakat through Islamic charities, mosques, or directly giving to the poor. Money is not collected during religious services or via collection plates, but some mosques keep a drop box for those who wish it to distribute zakat on their behalf. Unlike the zakat, giving other forms of charity in private, even in secret, is considered better, in order to keep one’s intended purely for God.

Apart from zakat, the Quran and Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) also stress sadaqah, or voluntary almsgiving, which is intended for the needy. The Quran emphasizes feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping those who are in need, and the more one helps, the more God helps the person, and the more one gives, the more God gives the person. One feels he is taking care of others and God is taking care of him.

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Action On Hunger: A Shared Obligation

With more than 1 billion undernourished people – many of them children – across the globe, hunger is a problem that affects all religions and nationalities. The roots of hunger are as diverse as the communities that it affects; conflict, natural disaster, water shortages, disease, climate change, and, of course, poverty is among the many other factors involved.

Solving a problem that affects people of all faiths requires the active support and participation of people from all those faiths. Individually, all major faiths call upon their adherents to exhibit compassion by helping the needy. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, and others have since time immemorial supported projects, activities, and organizations dedicated to helping feed the poor, sick, and hungry. Maximizing the impact of these efforts by increasing interfaith collaboration is an important next step to eradicating hunger; fortunately, this collaboration has already begun in the United States and abroad.

A Shared Compulsion to Act

Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others all find clear language in their holy books and traditions that compel them to fight hunger and poverty.

For Muslims, this fight is fundamental to the faith; it is the essence of zakat, the third pillar. The importance of charity is underscored throughout the Quran [e.g., Surah 2 (Al-Baqarah), verse 110]. This charity is not only directed toward fellow Muslims. The Quran [Al-Nisa’ (4): 36] calls believers to “do good – to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the Companion by your side…” Charity should be directed broadly, not limited to fellow Muslims. Recall that “If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues” [al-Maidah (5):48].

This broader sense of community and the individual’s responsibility toward those in need regardless of identity suggest that Muslims should extend their hands across faith lines to collaborate in the struggle against hunger. The Prophet Muhammad is commonly quoted as having said that “the person who sleeps full while his neighbor sleeps hungry is not a true believer.”

Similarly, the Bible calls all Christians to take action and provide for the poor and hungry without discrimination. “If a brother or sister lacks food and one of you says, ‘go in peace,’ and yet do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? Faith if it has no works is dead” (James 2:15-17). Helping the hungry has great spiritual benefits for Christians: “If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday” (Isaiah 58:10). The Good Samaritan parable in the Gospel of Luke (10: 25-37) makes clear the importance of loving and helping one’s neighbor regardless of identity.

Recent Christian thought has emphasized the unambiguous value of helping the hungry. A powerful statement about the importance of fighting hunger came from Pope Benedict XVI in his 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate. Drawing inspiration from earlier writings by his predecessor Paul VI, Pope Benedict XVI stated that feeding the hungry “is an ethical imperative for the universal [Roman Catholic] Church.”

For Jews, the Torah places hunger and poverty at the center of the faith. Leviticus (19:9-10) calls on Jews to give to the poor the corners of their fields and to leave them any fallen fruit. This is in the context of a concern for others that is not limited to fellow Jews; it is in the spirit of “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Lev.19:18).

Alleviating hunger is of great importance to those outside of the great monotheistic traditions, as well. The Mahabharata (XIII.59.11), one of Hinduism’s great Sanskrit epics, states that “[t]here is none other who does greater good than the one who removes the hunger of those in a difficult situation, helpless, weak and disturbed.” Gandhi and other leading thinkers and activists throughout the faith’s history have been inspired by Hinduism’s call to action against hunger.

If the concern for the poor and hungry is shared across religious boundaries, and there is agreement that this concern must not be limited to co-religionists, then there is a reason to work together to defeat the scourge of hunger. Interfaith action to fight hunger is, therefore, a way for members of each religion to practice their personal faiths, while strengthening their capacity to have a positive social impact through coordinated action across faith lines.

Interfaith Action against Hunger

Why is it important to increase the number of interfaith approaches to the hunger problem rather than to develop free-standing initiatives for each faith tradition?

The efficiency argument dictates that interfaith initiatives are more likely to succeed in reaching a greater percentage of people in need. In much of the world, adherents to different religious groups live side-by-side within their communities. An interfaith approach can help compassionate projects reach more of society’s neediest and thus maximize a project’s impact. The spirit of compassion that can be found in all major religions is best expressed by an approach that builds bridges and extends a helping hand to all who are in need.

Tackling hunger – or other pressing issues – in a joint manner can also have noticeable side benefits. In the United States, working together with non-Muslims can allow members of the country’s diverse and growing Muslim population to contribute positively to both the fight against hunger and the struggle against unfair negative stereotypes of Muslims. For example, in New York City, the Islamic Cultural Center on East 96th Street collaborates with the Jewish Theological Seminary and a Presbyterian church to operate a soup kitchen. The shared compulsion to feed the hungry and protect the vulnerable in one’s community drives a collaboration that has forged bonds of friendship and respect among volunteers of multiple religions.

Other examples, both small and large, can be found around the United States and the world. The Indiana-based Interfaith Hunger Initiative – a partnership between local Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Sikh congregations – is founded on the belief that “working together across faith lines on an important project will strengthen our community.” The initiative supports several local food pantries in Marion County, Indiana and a school lunch program in Kenya that feeds some 2700 vulnerable children, including many AIDS orphans. Other programs, from the New Jersey-based Middlesex County Coalition to Combat Poverty and Hunger to the Idaho Interfaith Roundtable Against Hunger, provide opportunities for local interfaith action.

In countries with a history of conflict characterized by friction between members of different religious groups, interfaith projects can help build trust and reduce tensions. In this way, programs that seek to relieve the most pressing hunger can alleviate conflict and thus address an important root cause of hunger.

An additional vehicle for interfaith action is advocacy designed to change policies and increase investments in programs to end hunger. A leading advocacy group is the Alliance to End Hunger, which includes influential Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and secular organizations in its campaign to raise the issue of hunger on the national agenda.

Around the world, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, and others are hard at work, working together to eliminate hunger. Individual Muslims and other can support these efforts in any number of ways, as interfaith action is valuable in a wide range of initiatives that target hunger, from local soup kitchens and food banks to programs that invest in international food security or engage in global advocacy.

Growing Interfaith Action on Hunger

With these and countless other examples of interfaith collaboration on hunger, there is little doubt that the idea has caught on, and that people of all faiths are acting upon their religious duty to care for the needy among us and broaden our conception of the global neighborhood. As the Prophet Muhammed said, “None of you has faith until you love for your brother what you love for yourself” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Iman, Hadith no.13), and “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself” (Sahih Muslim , Kitab al-Iman, 67-1, Hadith no.45). When such love turns into acts of true compassion across faith lines, it can forge a better future for everyone.

Taken with slight changes from

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Zakat for Masajid and Public Welfare Programs?

In the Qur’an, Allah Almighty has mentioned 8 categories of people who can receive Zakat. Allah Almighty says (which means):

“Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakat] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah . And Allah is Knowing and Wise.” [Al-Quran, surah At-Tawbah, verse 60]

The expression “for the cause of Allah” or fi Sabil Allah was generally interpreted “Jihad fi Sabil Allah” and so many jurists restricted this Zakat expense for this purpose.

Muslim jurists also say that in the Qur’an Allah used the word “Lil fuqara’ wa Al-masakin or ‘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 or Tamlik Al-Zakat.

Since in public and social welfare projects, no one becomes the owner, so, according to their interpretation, the Zakat should 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 the Masajid (mosque), schools, hospitals, hostels, etc. because this money belongs to poor and it should be given to them. There are some jurists who still hold this strict opinion concerning Zakat.

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. 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 the Zakat money to finance the Da’wah and 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 book Fiqh Az-Zakat, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, has thoroughly discussed this subject. His Fatwa is that in non-Muslim countries it is permissible to use Zakat funds to build the Masajid, 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 their Zakat for 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 their Zakat to build Masajid and schools in other countries.

It is the concept of ‘fi Sabil Allah’ and helping the Islamic cause in many lands where it has made it possible to establish Islamic institutions and Mosques.

Zakat is 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 than Zakat. However, it is not forbidden for Muslims to give their Zakat money for the building of Mosques and schools, especially in non-Muslim countries.

Islamic centers should have a separate Zakat fund. Those who do not want their Zakat to be used in building projects should give their money to the Zakat fund. But those who want to give their Zakat for the Masjid construction they should donate directly to that project.”

Allah Almighty knows best.

This Q&A was taken with slight changes from