Zakat for Muslims Only?

My post asking for charity recommendations elicited a few questions about Zakat (the obligatory Muslim charity). I was told that Zakat is only to be given to Muslims.

I had heard something like that before, but I decided to look it up this time around as I couldn’t understand any reason for such a prohibition. Interestingly and expectedly, I found nothing in the Quran which could be construed as a prohibition on giving Zakat to non-Muslims. Here are the only relevant Quranic verses I found.

Quran 2:273: (Charity is) for those in need, who, in Allah’s cause are restricted (from travel), and cannot move about in the land, seeking (For trade or work): the ignorant man thinks, because of their modesty, that they are free from want. Thou shalt know them by their (Unfailing) mark: They beg not importunately from all the sundry. And whatever of good ye give, be assured Allah knoweth it well.

Quran 9:60: 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.

I also didn’t find anything in the hadith collections I searched, though it is possible I might have missed something there.

If I remember correctly, most scholars forbid giving Zakat to non-Muslims. Among the four major schools of Sunni jurisprudence, Hanbali, Shafi and Maliki scholars are in that camp. I am not so sure about Hanafis, though some online scholars forbid it.

Looking at the Salafi Islam Q&A

It is not permissible to give zakaah on one’s wealth or crops, or Zakaat al-Fitr, to kaafirs, even if they are poor, or wayfarers, or debtors, and if one who gives zakaah to them, that is not counted as zakaah.

It is permissible to give regular charity – not obligatory charity (i.e., zakaah) to poor kaafirs, and to exhange gifts and with them and treat them well to soften their hearts towards Islam, so long as they have not carried out any hostile actions against the Muslims, which would disallow that.

Another Q&A at the same site gives some more details and a somewhat torturous interpretation of a hadith. Islam Q&A also prohibits giving Zakat to the Shia.

Not to be left behind, Al-Islam.org, which is a Twelver Shia website, prohibits giving Zakat to anyone other than the Shia.

It is necessary that the person to whom Zakat is paid is a Shi’ah Ithna’ashari. If, therefore, one pays Zakat to a person under the impression that he is a Shi’ah, and it transpires later that he is not a Shi’ah, one should pay Zakat again.

Moiz Amjad provides some sanity.

If you closely observe all the heads enlisted in the Qur’an [9:60 above — ZA], you shall see that for none of these heads does the Qur’an make it essential that the person to whom these funds are given should be a Muslim. For example, the Qur’an could have easily specified that the Zaka’h funds should be spent on the poor and the needy Muslims. On the contrary, however, we see that the poor and the needy, irrespective of their religious affiliations, are eligible to receive these funds. The same is the case of more or less all the other heads.

And that is why I don’t discriminate on the basis of religion when giving Zakat.

Author: Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer

25 thoughts on “Zakat for Muslims Only?”

  1. I would think the concept of charity evolved as a non-State centric ‘social security’ net. Anhyhow, it is
    interesting to note that charity should be given to those “in Allah’s cause”, whereas alms can possibly be given to non-Muslims.
    Now, it seems that the defintion of alms includes charity[alms: ” Money or goods given as charity to the poor.] And vice versa! [charity: “Something given to help the needy; alms”]
    But that’s good old Dictionary.com.
    I look forward to the differentiation provided by the Quran

  2. Captain: Some of the Muslim problem is caused by freezing of jurisprudence among at least the Sunnis for the last few centuries.

    Shareen: The differentiation used by most Muslims is between charity that is required of every Muslim who can afford it (called Zakat or Zakah) and other charity. The obligatory Zakat is the one that is said to be forbidden for non-Muslims.

  3. Paying Zakat counts like giving money to a charity society for tax exemption. It does not prohibit the person from paying the regular charity; the only thing is that it does not count as the Zakat obligation.

  4. To keep things clear, I shall write transliteration of some important words.

    As I had known all my life, neither Qur’aan nor Hadith has clearly specified that Zakaat (compulsory charity) cannot be given to a non-Muslim. To be sure I have surfed my library and reconfirmed it.

    However, I recall one of my teachers had explained it in the following way:

    Muslims and non-Muslims of a (Muslim) state are obliged to pay a sort of tax which is named Zakaat in case of Muslims and Jazia in case of non-Muslims.

    Zakaat (compulsory tax for Muslims) is required to be paid to or spent on deserving Muslims, while Jazia (compulsory tax for non-Muslims) is required to be spent on protection (security & welfare) of non-Muslims. Meaning thereby that neither Jazia can be spent on Muslims nor Zakaat on non-Muslims. (It must be kept in mind that there was no other tax levied on people in those days).

    While Sadqa (voluntary charity / donation) has no restrictions for / of payer or payee.

    Further, a corollary is taken from the words “for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth)”, Sura 9 (At-Tawba), Verse 60.

    The argument is that a little laxity has been given for payment of Zakaat to those non-Muslims who are inclined to embrace Islam, thus, making non-Muslims, in general, ineligible for receiving Zakaat.

  5. HI

    SIR I AM FROM PAKISTAN

    HAVE A SERIOUS PROBLEM.SEVEN YEARS AGO WE

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    CHILD.MY FATHER IS TAKING THE TABLETS TO SHORTEN

    THE DEPRESSION.SIR IF NOBODY WILL HELP US THEN

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    LIFE.SIR OUR PROBLEM IS ORIGINAL .IF U

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    THEN U CAN. SIR PLEASE REPLY.

    THANKYOU

    KHADIJA TUL QUBRA

  6. Zakat,Sadqah,Khairat all is about helping other Humans

    The term Zakat and Sadqah is particular for muslims ,plus Syeds re not allowed to take zakat and sadqah as they are from family of prophet(SAW).

    One can give khairat to non-muslims.My family used to give money(charity) to our christian maasi.Its not forbidden.The whole purpose is to help needy people regardless of their faith and it can be done by any mean.So dont get confused rather giving impression that Islam permits charity for muslims only


    And that is why I don’t discriminate on the basis of religion when giving Zakat

    Indeed you lack to make different between above mentioned terms grin

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  8. Your claim that zakat is not barred to non-Muslims (Kufir/Infidel) in the Qur’an has me puzzled, surely when Muhammad and Allah say that Muslims are not to befriend such people, that proscription is implicit?

    The Qur’an states, under Sura 5:54, “O believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends; they are friends of each other. Those of you who make them his friends is one of them.”, under 8:39, “Make war on them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion reigns supreme.”, under 9:123, “Believers: Make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Let them find harshness in you.”, under 2:191, “Slay them wherever ye find them and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out.”, Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it.”.

    In Sura 9:123, specifically, it entreaties Muslims to, “Let them find harshness in you.” Surely giving alms/charity to such people is running counter to Qur’anic teaching?

    Your article leaves me puzzled – please enlighten me.

  9. Larry: Those Quranic verses you refer to were for specific enemies of Islam and Muslims during the era of Muhammad. They do not apply to all people who are not Muslim.

  10. بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ
    Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu, Peace and Blessings,
    Dear Sir,
    I am Md.shafi Mahmud vary poor Muslim. I know that your organization is vary large please help me. I have need financial help. If any body wants to help me, then send me under below address.
    Wishes Ramadan Mubarak!

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    Bank A/C No- s/a 19040
    Swift coad No-IBBLBDDH177
    Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd, Gulshan-2 Branch
    Dhaka .Bangladesh

  11. Assalamoalikum to my dear brother & sisters
    i hope every one is doing fine by the grace of Allah Al Mighty. may Allah alwayz bless every one in this world.
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  12. Well, I believe charity should be given to a Muslim only in an Islamic Society so that other non-Muslims might also be encourage to accept Islam. But I’m confused about the true Muslims nowadays..those who claim or those who really practice? We can give it out as to please Allah but that surely doesn’t have to do anything with pure Islamic Society…the one we are failed to establish anywhere in the world!

  13. i am from jammu and kashmir .i got lone from the bank to started my own busniess.but my one friend .advice me invest in shares i lost my all money.due to market fall i extend my postion at last all lost. i am marred with two childerns .i nock several doors but no body is ready to healp me. i am so fustred .resently a man meet me and tell me if you change your religion then he will help me. i am not intrested change my religion .i am a true muslim . i have so tension due tension my eyes gose ill finally doctors advice me for surgery the surgury cost gose nearly rs 50000. at that time i have not a single rupee. i need some finicial sport . my all labalities rs 600000
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    plz reply as soon as that is your most kindness
    yuors fathfully
    sheeraz ahmad dar

  14. Asssala mualykum

    Ramadan Mubarak

    Please help my Poor Family We need Donation fund

    Dear Sir,

    My name is Ilyas uddin from Karachi, Pakistan. Right now I really need help from everyone who wants to donate for my mother. My mother is illness of Colon and Ovarian Cancer. We already sold most of our assets for my mother to get healthy but we are wrong my mother condition are getting worse every day then we decided to loan money to pay most of the medicine and hospital bills.
    Right now we don’t have anything left, u should know me and my wife and my 3 months years old son live in a boarding house (small room for 3 of us). We can’t afford to rent a house or apartment anymore right now.
    So that’s why I’m looking for donation from generous people that can help me and my family. We need USD$ 5000, – only not more…
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    Thank you for your attention. May god always be with you, god bless you, sir.

    Sincerely,
    Ilyas uddin

    Please send to dollar following address:

    Allied Bank Limited
    Sharah-E-Quaideen Branch, Karachi, Pakistan
    Title of Account:……..Ilyas uddin
    Bank A/c No:……….. 0120022842
    Branch Code No:…… (0416)
    Swift Code No:……… ABPAPKKA
    Mobile No. 00923463306923
    E-Mail Address; ilyasuddin2009@gmail.com

  15. Dear Brothers/Sisters,

    Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa barakatuhu

    With due respect I would like to let you know that I am a highly distressed person in the human society. I have been leading a heavy distressful life for last few years. There are four members in my family. To mitigate the regular and most basic expenses of myself & my family I had to borrow money from my relatives and known peoples in my society. Gradually the amount of borrowed money is becoming greater. My social security has already been destroyed. My lenders have already started to create pressure to me. In such situation my own & my family member’s lives are always in risk. I have two kids and they are school going. Both the kids are brilliant but I can’t provide them required support in all respect. As a result prospective future of these kids is also going to be uncertain. This is really an unbearable situation and shock for a father.

    I have a good intension to repay all of my loans. Besides I need to do/establish something for mitigating my family expenses on regular basis. But without money nothing is possible. The reason why I need financial help of peoples who are rich and who are in a position to provide financial help to me.

    Understanding my crucial situation would you please extend your hand of co-operation to help me to survive with my family? I also would like to mention here that I need at least one hundred and fifty thousand US$ to mitigate my present need.

    I will give you my bank account particulars if you please agree to provide financial help to me. Await to receive your cordial response by return mail.

    Best Regards

    M. Mahmudur Rahman
    E-mail: m.rahman1962@yahoo.com

  16. Dear Brothers/Sisters,

    Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu

    With due respect I would like to let you know that I am a highly distressed person in the human society. I have been leading a heavy distressful life for last few years. There are four members in my family. To mitigate the regular and most basic expenses of myself & my family I had to borrow money from my relatives and known peoples in my society. Gradually the amount of borrowed money is becoming greater. My social security has already been destroyed. My lenders have already started to create pressure to me. In such situation my own & my family member’s lives are always in risk. I have two kids and they are school going. Both the kids are brilliant but I can’t provide them required support in all respect. As a result prospective future of these kids is also going to be uncertain. This is really an unbearable situation and shock for a father.

    I have a good intension to repay all of my loans. Besides I need to do/establish something for mitigating my family expenses on regular basis. But without money nothing is possible. The reason why I need financial help of peoples who are rich and who are in a position to provide financial help to me.

    Understanding my crucial situation would you please extend your hand of co-operation to help me to survive with my family? I also would like to mention here that I need at least one hundred and fifty thousand US$ to mitigate my present need.

    I will give you my bank account particulars if you please agree to provide financial help to me. Await to receive your cordial response by return mail (E-mail: m.rahman1962@yahoo.com.

    Best Regards

    M. Mahmudur Rahman

  17. Asalam Aalikum
    I am a muslim, but suffering from highly financial crisis. I have 3 children, my husband made accident and his spinal bone got fracture. looking for help for his operation

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