Building Islamic Centres with Zakat Funds
Using zakat funds to build Islamic centers is not approved by all scholars. The view approving it is based on the fact that Islamic centers’ role is the advocacy of Islam, so they may be included in the ways of zakat.
Building Islamic Centres with Zakat Funds
· Using zakat funds to build Islamic centres.
Large amounts of money are needed for the purchase of places that are intended to become Islamic centres. More funds are also needed for building such centres and to meet their running and maintenance costs, so that they can fulfil their objectives. Donations often fall short of what is required, while the need for such centres is great indeed. Is it permissible to use zakat funds for the building of Islamic centres in Western countries?
Scholars have different views on this question with two views clearly apparent:
The first view permits the spending of zakat funds in building Islamic centres and other purposes of Islamic advocacy. This view is agreed by:
1. The Islamic Fiqh Council adopted in its eighth session 27 Rabi' II – 8 Jumada I 1405 AH (1985) its fourth decision, and in its ninth session 12–19 Rajab 1406 AH (1986) its fifth and seventh decisions. These decisions state that ‘The beneficiaries of zakat include “for serving God’s cause” which is very flexible. As such, it is permissible to spend zakat funds for purposes other than those for which they have been stated, such as activities of advocacy of Islam, and for social institutions that advocate and defend Islam and present it to people. Islamic centres are among the best institutions to undertake such tasks.
2. Bayt al-Zakat: The Fatwa Committee of Bayt al-Zakat published its ruling that it is permissible to invest zakat funds in projects that yield profit, such as schools and hospitals, and more importantly, Islamic centres. However.
the following conditions apply:
i. The services of such projects must be available to other beneficiaries of zakat.
ii. The project must remain to be owned by the beneficiaries of zakat and managed by the ruler or his assignee.
iii. If the project is sold or liquidated, the proceeds of the sale or liquidation must be treated as zakat funds.
3. Shaikh Muhammad Rasheed Rida is of the view that ‘for serving God’s cause’, as one of the purposes for which zakat is used, incorporates ‘any good action that provides a general service that seeks to earn God’s pleasure.
4. Shaikh Mahmood Shaltoot considers that ‘for serving God’s cause’ includes all public services that may benefit the Muslim community as a whole. It does not apply to any particular one. As such, it includes mosques, hospitals, educational institutions, steel and ammunition factories and similar purposes that benefit the community.
5. Shaikh Jad al-Haq considers that ‘for serving God’s cause’ allows spending zakat funds in all good purposes including burying the dead, building forts and mosques.
The Qur’anic verse
Charitable donations are only for the poor and the needy, and those who work in the administration of such donations, and those whose hearts are to be won over, for the freeing of people in bondage and debtors, and to further God’s cause, and for the traveller in need
God says in the Qur’an
Those who spend their property for the cause of God and do not follow their spending by vaunting their own generosity, or by hurting others, shall have their reward with their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor shall they grieve
- The phrase ‘for the cause of God’ applies to everything that serves the truth and makes it clear.
- It is reported that one of the Prophet’s companions dedicated a she-camel for the service of God’s cause. The man’s wife wanted to travel to Makkah to perform the pilgrimage.
The Prophet said to her
You may use the she-camel, as performing the pilgrimage is part of God’s cause
Related by Abu Dawud, hadith No. 1,990
- The role of Islamic centres in the advocacy of Islam confirms that they may be included in the general meaning of the verse identifying the ways of spending zakat funds.
The second view does not approve of using zakat funds for the building of Islamic centres. This view is shared by:
1. The Supreme Committee of Scholars in Saudi Arabia adopted Decision No. 24 on 21 Sha[ban 1394 AH (1974). It says that after reviewing the relevant research works and views on this issue, it adopted a majority decision reconfirming that ‘to further God’s cause’ refers to volunteer fighters and their needs of equipment and preparation. If there are none of these, then the funds should go to the other beneficiaries of zakat. No such funds may be spent on providing or maintaining public services unless there are no poor or needy people and no other beneficiaries of zakat as outlined in the relevant Qur’anic verse
2. The majority of the members of the Islamic Fiqh Council in India are of the view that as one of the areas that may benefit of zakat funds, ‘to further God’s cause’ is specific, not general. As such, it cannot include all religious and advocacy purposes. 
3. The former Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Shaikh Muhammad ibn Ibraheem considers that ‘to further God’s cause’ cannot apply to mosques and charitable purposes. He adds: ‘Paying zakat to spend on mosques and charitable purposes cannot be included into the eight classes mentioned by God as the only ones to be given zakat money.
The overwhelming majority of early scholars consider that “to further God’s cause” is limited to volunteer fighters and to get ready for fighting, because the relevant religious texts use it in this sense.
· Decisions by the Islamic Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League.
· The papers of the Supreme Committee of Scholars in Saudi Arabia, Dar al-Qasim, 2001.
· The papers and proceeds of the third seminar on Contemporary Issues of Zakat held in Kuwait on 8 Ramadan 1413 AH, 2 March 1992.
· Decisions by the Islamic Fiqh Council of India.
· Muhammad Rasheed Rida, Fatawa, Beirut.
· Muhammad ibn Ibraheem, Fatawa.
· Muhammad ibn Yunus al-Suwaisi al-Tawzari, Al-Fatawa al-Tunisiyyah fi al-Qarn al-Rabi[ [Ashar al-Hijri, ‘Tunisian Fatwas issued during the fourteenth century AH (1883–1980 CE)’.
· Mahmood Shaltoot, Al-Fatawa.
· Jad al-Haq Ali Jad al-Haq, Al-Fatawa al-Islamiyyah.
- Decisions of the Islamic Fiqh Council, p. 171, 196 and 205.
- This is an independent institution established by the government of Kuwait.
- Papers and proceedings of the third seminar on Contemporary Issues of Zakat held in Kuwait on 8/9/1413 AH 2 March 1992; pp. 323–4.
- M.R. Rida, Fatawa, pp. 1,238 and 1,915.
- M. Shaltoot, Al-Fatawa, p. 128
- J.A. Jad al-Haq, Al-Fatawa al-Islamiyyah, p. 105.
- Papers of the Committee of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia, vol. 1, p. 98.
- Islamic Fiqh Council in India, Decision 28 (12/5).
- M. Ibn Ibraheem, Fatawa, Fatwa No. 985, dated 1/7/1380 AH (1961).