Zakah Given to Islamic Schools?

I recently attended the AlMaghrib Seminar, RIZQ MANAGEMENT: Fiqh of Worship IV Zakat, Siyam, and Hajj. Here is some research that I did for the seminar on the issue of whether or not Zakah can be given to Islamic schools.

Note: ***These are not fatwas!!! This is just my own research!!!***


The issue of whether or not Zakah can be given to Islamic schools stems from the widespread need for an Islamic education system in a kaafir society. There is a difference of opinion on the issue and prominent scholars have been known to defend both sides of the argument. In this assignment, both arguments will be explored along with the provided proofs.

The Qur’anic ayah 9:30 lists all those to whom Zakah can be paid. The eight categories are: the poor; the needy; those who are involved with its (Zakah) work; those whose hearts are to be reconciled with faith; the slaves; those indebted; in the way of Allah; and the wayfarer. The three categories of people to whom Zakah cannot be paid are: the descendants of Rasulullah sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam; parents and grandparents (from a male son/grandson); and institutions or organizations that do not give the rightful recipients possession of Zakah and use it for other purposes.

The difference of opinion comes from the categories of Zakah being permissible for the poor and needy, and for those fighting in the way of Allah yet not permissible for institutions or organizations that do not give the rightful recipients possession of Zakah and use it for other purposes.

Fi Sabeelillah (In the way of Allah)
This category is generally interpreted as fighting for the cause of Allah, or jihad. Some scholars place broader boundaries on this category and include those who spread the knowledge of Islam among Muslims, enabling Muslims to hold firmly to their faith in a kaafir society. These scholars agree that Zakah money may be used to pay Muslim teachers to spread knowledge of Islam and to publish and distribute Islamic books and material. However, Zakah money cannot be used under this category to build buildings, pay rent, etc.—it is permissible for teachers and spreaders of Islam. The main use of Zakah in this category is for Jihad (and those seeking to perform Hajj), and only by extension do some scholars include the production and distribution of Islamic books.

Al-Fuqara’ wa Al-Miskin (The Poor, and The Needy)
The difference between the poor and the needy is that the poor have no income or means of support, while the needy have income and basic necessities (i.e., food, shelter, a car) but they are still unable to afford the fees of sending their children to an Islamic school. According to Sheikh ibn Gibrien and Sheikh ibn Qaoud, Zakah is permissible under these categories for a child’s Islamic education when he/she may otherwise be forced to attend a secular school. Sheikh Ibn Qaoud believes that the Zakah money must be given direct to the family, while Sheikh Ibn Gibrien is of the opinion that it is permissible to pay the Zakah money directly to the school for payment of the fees, just as long as the family is notified that the fees are being covered out of Zakah money.

In the book Fiqh al-Zakat, Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi gives a fatwa that in non-Muslim countries it is permissible to use Zakat funds for the building of masjids, schools and hospitals. Other books of fiqh will give the opinion that Zakah should not be used for public and social welfare projects like masjids, schools, hospitals, etc. Reasons for this stricter opinion are: that “in the way of Allah” is generally interpreted as “jihad in the way of Allah”, and that Zakah used for the building of any of these facilities would not give any particular individual ownership of the money.

Summary of Strongest Opinions (Allahu’Alim)

Within Muslim countries Zakah money should not be given to Islamic schools. Zakah money should be given to its rightful owners from those of the eight categories. Money to build Islamic schools in Muslim countries should come from other sources such as the government, sadaqah, or waqf (endowments).

Within non-Muslim countries where there is a need for Islamic schools and spreading the message of Islam, some scholars are of the opinion that it is permissible to give Zakah money to Islamic schools. However, the Zakah money should not go towards the actual building or maintenance, etc., of the schools since these do not fall into any of the eight categories mentioned in the Quran (9:30). If Zakah money is to be paid to Islamic schools, the schools should have a separate Zakah fund set up from which money is distributed to teachers, needy students, or other individuals worthy of Zakah.

It should be cautioned though that widely broadening the category of “Fi Sabeelillah” to include all kinds of organizations seeking to spread the message of Islam may result in the actual purpose of Zakah not being filled.

Zakat on 401K and IRA Accounts

Zakat for Education

Sunni Path Q&A


~ by musingsofamuslimah on June 29, 2006.

2 Responses to “Zakah Given to Islamic Schools?”

  1. Asalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullah,

    I am currently attending the same Al Maghrib seminar and mashaAllah your notes are beneficial. May Allah guide us to that which please Him. Ameen.

    Wa salaam

  2. As Salaam Alaykum,

    I’m takign that class right now in Houston, TX and that’s my topic. JAzaakAllah Khair so much for your information. I had no idea how to start out my paper. You just gave me some direction right now though so I am very grateful for that.
    I hope you don’t mind if I incorporate your general outline into mine but I want to write mine a bit more detailed and whatnot. Well, inshaAllah maybe I’ll send you the finalized stuff after I’m done…if you’re interested

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