Giving zakaah money to non-Muslims
Fatwa No: 352318

Question

Dear Mufti. I live in a city in which there are very few Muslims, and only Christians live here. The people here are very poor and needy, so I help them and give them my zakah, and I hope that maybe my kindness inspires them and they realize that Islam is a great religion. I speak English, and people only speak Portuguese here, but with my kind act, I do hope that maybe I can change their hearts, and Allaah knows best. My question is: is it permissible under these circumstances to help non-Muslims with my zakah?

Answer

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, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

We have previously underlined in fatwas 82875 and 87316 that it is impermissible to pay the zakaah to non-Muslims; Mu‘aath  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, “Allah has made it obligatory on them to pay the zakaah from their property, and it is to be taken from their rich and given to their poor.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim] This means that the zakaah is taken from the wealthy Muslims and paid to the poor Muslims. The Kuwaiti Encyclopedia of Fiqh reads regarding those to whom it is impermissible to give zakaah, "Non-Muslims, even if they are Thimmis (non-Muslims living in an Islamic state) are not entitled to the zakaah. Ibn Al-Munthir cited the scholarly consensus in this regard based on the hadeeth, ‘Allah has made it obligatory on them to pay the zakaah from their property, and it is to be taken from their rich and given to their poor.’

The only exception in this regard are the non-Muslims whose hearts are hoped to become inclined to Islam. Allah, The Exalted, says (what means): {Zakaah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect (zakaah) 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.} [Quran 9:60]

Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “There are two categories of non-Muslim recipients of zakaah:

First, the non-Muslims whose conversion to Islam is hoped. They are given (zakaah) in order to urge them to embrace Islam and make them more inclined to it ...

Second, the non-Muslims whose evil is feared, and giving it to them is done if it is hoped to ward off their evil and the evil of others as well...

It should be noted that this does not mean that their conversion to Islam is only a wish; rather, there has to be circumstantial evidence indicating that they are close to embracing Islam and may take that step if given financial help.

Ibn ‘Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “The non-Muslims whose conversion to Islam is not hoped cannot be given from the zakaah funds in hope of their conversion. Rather, there must be indications that make us hopeful that they would embrace Islam. For example, knowing that a non-Muslim is inclined to Muslims or that he asks for books about Islam and the like. Hope must have foundations; because if someone hopes for something without foundations, then he is only imagining things in his mind.

Hence, it is permissible for you to give your zakaah to the non-Muslims whom you know belong to the category of non-Muslims described above (whose hearts can be brought towards Islam); otherwise, it is impermissible to give your zakaah to them.

For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 90749.

Allah knows best.

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