As regards the expenditure of income from zakât, eight heads are mentioned in the Glorious Qu’ran:- “Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the [funds]; for those whose hearts have been [recently] reconciled [to the truth]; for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of God; and for the wayfarer: [thus is it] ordained by God, and God is full of knowledge and wisdom.” [9:60]
1) The poor.
2) The needy.
3) The officials appointed in connection with the collection of zakât.
4) Those whose hearts are to be reconciled by material support.
5) Ransoming of captives [prisoners of war]
6) Those in debt.
7) In the cause of God.
8) The wayfarer.
A few words may be added to explain the above: -
1) The poor are those who are unable physically or otherwise to earn their living.
2) The needy are those who may be able to earn their livelihood but lack the means as implements, etc.
3) By those in debt are meant persons who may be able to support themselves, but if they are in debt, their debts may be paid off from the zakât fund.
4) The captives are those who are taken prisoners in war. A portion of the zakât fund must go for their release.
5) The wayfarer is a traveller who, though in well-to do circumstances, stands in need of help in a strange place or country; hence a part of the zakât income must be spent on such a person.
6) The officials who collect zakât are members of the staff appointed officially to manage its collection as well as the management of its expenditure; hence their wages are also to be paid out of the zakât fund.
7) Those whose hearts are to be harmonized and the way of God, refer to the propagation of the Faith. With respect to the preaching of a religion, there is always a class of people who are ready to listen and ready to embrace Islam when they are preached, but who, in the meantime, have to forego material advantages which it is very difficult for them to relinquish. These persons are spoken of in the Qu’ran as those whose hearts are to be harmonized or united by giving them such a portion of the zakât fund to reassure them.
8) By the cause of God is meant the advancement of the cause of Islam or the defence thereof. Under this head, therefore, zakât may be spent for the propagation of the religion of Islam and to meet the objections advanced against it.
The above laws covering the institution of zakât principle in Islam are detailed according to the Hanafi School of Muslim Jurisprudence, but the differences amongst the teachings of the Sunni Schools of Muslims are but small and even insignificant.
However, the recognition of paying the wages of the staff employed in connection with the poor-tax [zakât] from that revenue is clear in order to denote that the institution is meant for raising a public fund, of which the management should entirely be in the hands of a public body, although it is lawful for the possessor to distribute his alms himself; and if he makes declaration on oath to this effect, his statement is to be credited.
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