DENIS TUKAHIKAHO Ph.D: Zakat is for the needy and the poor

The funds themselves must be given to the Zakat recipient. According to Mufti Taqi Usmani, chairman of AAOIFI and one of the world’s leading Islamic finance scholars, states in his legal opinion:

Zakat is an obligatory act of worship in Islam, often referred to as almsgiving or charity. It’s one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is considered a form of purification of wealth.

Muslims who meet certain criteria of wealth are required to give a portion of their assets, typically 2.5% of their wealth, annually to help those in need, including the poor, orphans, widows, and others in need. It serves as a means of social welfare and solidarity within the Muslim community. Zakat is meant to redistribute wealth and ensure that everyone has their basic needs met. It’s not just a duty but also a way of achieving spiritual purification and growth.

When distributing your Zakat to a charitable organization, always ensure that the organization satisfies the following condition: The charitable organization must give 100% of the Zakat funds directly to the deserving recipient, whether cash in hand or bank transfer, with the consultation of Shariah scholars. These funds may not be used to provide a service or cover administrative costs.

The funds themselves must be given to the Zakat recipient. According to Mufti Taqi Usmani, chairman of AAOIFI and one of the world’s leading Islamic finance scholars, states in his legal opinion: That it is permissible for non-government organizations to collect and distribute zakat money among those entitled to receive it on the condition that they fully observe the Islamic rules and principles concerning Zakat and take due care that the money so collected is duly given to the needy.  However, it is not permissible for such private organizations to spend the zakat money to cover their administration costs.

It is true that the Holy Qur’an has allowed to give some part of zakat money to “A’milin” i.e. the persons appointed by the government to collect zakat. But it is applicable only in the context of an Islamic State which duly manages collection and distribution of zakat. This principle cannot be extended to the employees of private organizations.  The wisdom behind this difference between government and non-government organizations is that in the case of a true Islamic State the persons employed for the collection of Zakat are under constant observation and monitoring of the government itself which can ensure that those employees are not committing any misconduct and that the money allocated for them does not affect much on the interest of the needy for whom the levy of zakat is originally meant.

On the contrary, if the same principle is allowed for private organizations there is no recognized authority to check that the zakat money is not spent excessively on the administrative expenses. Therefore, if private organizations elect to collect and distribute zakat they can do so only on charitable basis and no amount from the zakat money should be spent on their employees or on their administration.

Therefore, those distributing ZAKAT must avoid such habits which are against pillars of Islam and these include but not limited; Personal use by taking Zakat funds for personal expenses or enrichment, rather than distributing them to those in need. Non-eligible recipients by giving Zakat to individuals or organizations that do not meet the criteria set by Islamic law for Zakat recipients.

Corruption by misappropriating Zakat funds through corruption, embezzlement, or fraud, thereby depriving those who are entitled to receive it. Investing in non-permissible ventures like investing Zakat funds in businesses or activities that are considered haram (forbidden) in Islam such as those involving alcohol, gambling, or interest-based transactions.

Hoarding, failing to distribute Zakat in a timely manner or holding onto Zakat funds unnecessarily when there are eligible recipients in need. Misusing Zakat goes against the core principles of Islam and the intended purpose of Zakat, which is to provide support to the less fortunate and strengthen the bonds of community. It undermines the spirit of generosity, compassion, and social justice that Zakat is meant to uphold. Muslims are encouraged to ensure that their Zakat is distributed in accordance with Islamic teachings and guidelines to fulfill its intended purpose effectively.

The author, Denis Tukahikaho is a Ph.D. Student in Islamic Banking Philosophy, he holds a Ph.D.  in Environmental Management & Economics, Master of Oil & Gas Law-Energy & Policy, Executive MBA-SME, BBA -Banking and Finance and Diploma in quantitative Economics and with 17 years of consulting Expertise Banking, Microfinance, Cooperatives and ESG.

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