Zakat for Education
“Of their goods take alms, so thou mightest purify and sanctify them; And pray on their behalf. Verily thy prayers are a source of security for them: And Allah is One Who heareth and knoweth.” [Holy Qur’an 9:103]
THE ISLAMIC ‘PILLAR OF’ ZAKAT:
It is a means whereby we purify our wealth. It is obligatory on every eligible Muslim to pay Zakah; not to do so is a grievous sin liable to severe punishment in the Hereafter. Allah, The Almighty, has said in the Qur’an:
“…And there are those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the Way of Allah; announce unto them a most grievous chastisement… On the Day when it will be heated in the fire of hell, and their foreheads, and their sides, and their backs shall be branded with it. (And they shall be told), this is the treasure which you hoarded for yourself. Taste ye, then, the (treasures) you hoarded.” [Qur’an 9:34-35]
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
“And their wealth will appear to them as a huge snake on the Day of Resurrection.” It was the duty of the Islamic state to collect Zakah from the Muslim Community. Today, in the absence of such a state, it is left up to the conscience of individual Muslims to decide if they are eligible to pay and, if so, to distribute their Zakah accordingly.
As one of the basic pillars of Islam, the payment of Zakah is as essential as offering prayer (As-Salah) regularly, fasting during the month of Ramadan, going for Hajj at least once in a lifetime and believing sincerely in the Shahadah:
“La ilaha il Allahu; Muhammadur Rasoolullah.”
[“there is no deity except Allah; Muhammad is a Messenger of Allah.”]
“Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (Thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.”(Surah Al-Tawbah 9:60)
There are eight categories of people and services for whom and which it is permissible to pay Zakah:
- The poor
- The needy
- Those who collect Zakah
- Those whose hearts are to be reconciled
- To free a captive
- Those in debt
- In the way of Allah
- For the wayfarers
A valuable way to help the cause of Islamic Education, particularly in non Muslim countries and in critical circumstances, is to pay Zakah Feesabeelillah (in the way of Allah) or Lil-Fuqara (for the poor). Such use of Zakah is approved by the major schools of Islamic thought.
One condition of spending Zakah under these categories is that it should be given to the recipient in person and cannot be used for buildings, to pay maintenance, etc.
To fulfil this condition, the Authority collects and holds Zakah under a special category fund. Parents who cannot afford school fees to educate their children Islamically and bring them up as Muslims will be identified by the Muslim schools or other educational institutions the children attend or hope to attend if the fees can be paid. The Zakah is given to them and is used to pay their fees and, if required, other basic necessities of their education. Teachers and propagators of Islam are also entitled to be paid from such a special Zakah fund.
It is acceptable in Islamic Law to distribute Zakah to the eight categories listed above when and where it is considered to be most needed.
One of the main priorities of today is the education of young Muslims, in order to preserve and develop their Islamic identity and self-awareness.
Islamic scholars consider it a fundamental duty for parents to ensure that their children receive a sound Islamic education; not to do so, or to allow them to attend lessons in other religions (e.g. RE in schools) could be regarded as sinful. Allah, The Almighty has said in the QurÌan:
“Protect yourselves and your families from the fire…”(Surah Al-Tahrim 66:6)
The following guidelines may be used by schools, madrasahs and other educational institutions concerning the use of Zakah to meet their expenses. Essentially, there are three general headings under which Zakah may be payable for the advancement of Islamic education.
- Feesabeelillah (in the way of Allah)
- Lil-Fuqara (for the poor)
- Lil-Masakeen (for the needy)
Each shall have to be considered carefully in order to decide when and to whom Zakah can be paid.
This phrase is used to describe money spent in fighting for the cause of Allah i.e. Jihad. However, some scholars understand feesabeelillah in a broader sense: some people fight against Muslims with weapons, others use ideological means. Muslims are obliged to defend themselves effectively by a similar means, resisting mischief by clarifying the concepts of Islam for those who [choose to] misunderstand. It has been agreed, therefore, that using Zakah to pay for the cost of preparing a Muslim daÌee (propagator) to spread Islamic knowledge amongst Muslims, helping them to stand firm against non-Muslims in society, may fall under the heading of feesabilillah. Hence, it can be said that Zakah may be used to:
1) Send Muslim teachers to schools to explain to the pupils the basics of Islam;
2) Publish Islamic material, books and teaching aids, and distribute them.
According to Ibn Taymiyyah (in his fatwa 28; 274) feesabeelillah means [spending] to fund the mujahideen who are not given enough from Bait-al-Maal to carry out Jihad. They should be given sufficient to enable them to perform Jihad, as well as enough to buy necessities for it, such as transport, weapons, maintenance expenses and wages.
In his manual Fiqh-al-Zakat, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi says that he does not favour expanding the term “feesabeelillah” to include many items of expenditure. He does, however, accept that Jihad is not specifically limited to the physical act of fighting in defence of the Ummah. It includes, he says, “saying a word of truth to an oppressive ruler”.
It is not allowed to use Zakah under the heading of feesabeelillah to fund buildings, bridges, hospitals or mosques. It is allowed to use this category to pay for people calling others to Islam (daÌee) and those teaching the religion of Islam directly. It is clear, however, that the predominant use of the word feesabeelillah is for Jihad (with an extension for persons seeking to perform Hajj). In a more extended sense, it can also refer to the production and distribution of Islamic books and materials to spread the message of Islam, although some caution is called for in this latter respect.
This heading basically means the poor; i.e. those with no income or no means of support. It is obvious that someone in such a position may not have the resources to educate his or her child in an Islamic way, being unable to pay school fees. Such a person may be given Zakah.
Contemporary scholars such as Sheikh Ibn Gibrien and Sheikh Ibn Qaoud say that it is allowed to give Zakah to those Muslims who do not have sufficient earnings to cover their childrenÌs education needs, or to enter them into Islamic schools in non-Islamic societies where the only alternative would be to enter the children into Christian or secular schools. Sheikh Ibn Qaoud believes that it is necessary to give the Zakah direct to the recipient who then has to hand it to the school, whereas Sheikh Ibn Gibrien feels it is permissible to pay the Zakah direct to the school in payment of the fees as long as the parents or guardians of children concerned are aware that the fees have been paid in part or in full out of Zakah funds.
Zakah may be payable to those parents or guardians of children who are living in non-Muslim countries, who have no income or earnings to pay for the fees of sending their children to a Muslim school where Islam will be taught to them.
Another heading under which Zakah may be payable in respect of childrenÌs education is that of Al-Masakeen (the needy). That is, if someone has a job, a house and basic necessities but is unable to afford the expense of sending his/her children to a Muslim school. This is an educational basic need and, as such, can be met from Zakah funds.