In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Zakat, Perpetual Charity and Establishing Islamic Schools in America
By Dr. Maher Hathout
1. Can Zakat money be used towards building and establishing Islamic schools in America?
God says in the Holy Quran in Surat At-Taubah:
“The offerings given for the sake of God are [meant] only for the poor and the needy, and those who are in charge thereof, and those whose hearts are to be won over, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage, And [for] those who are over-burdened with debts, and [for every struggle] in God’s cause, And [for] the wayfarer: [this is] an ordinance from God- and God is all knowing, wise” (9:60). (The translation is from “The Message of The Quran” by Muhammad Asad).
The above verse names eight distinct categories which are legitimate recipients of Zakat money. The seventh category specifically mentions “For every struggle in God’s case (Fee Sabil Allah).” During the time when the most common promotion of the cause of Allah was physical confrontation an enemy, this interpretation was limited to spending for that specific reason.
Once it became clear that defending and establishing Islam takes many different forms depending on circumstance, this interpretation widened. Due to this, projects that establish, defend, and promote Islam in the hearts and minds of people, countries and societies were also included.
Shaykh Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a leading Muslim scholar and an authority in contemporary Islamic Jurisprudence, said the following in his book Contemporary Religious Recommendations (pg. 255):
“I here want to bring to attention that certain projects at a certain time and in a certain country becomes a “Jihad” project for the cause of God. Therefore, building and establishing an Islamic School at a place where education is un-Islamic, run by people who espouse ideas contrary to Islam is considered a “struggle for the cause of God.” Establishing an Islamic school that teaches the children of Muslims what they need for their life and their religion, and protects them from the destructive intellectual and moral corruption, and immunizes them from the poisonous material in books, programs, as well as the general environment of these schools, in this case an Islamic school is deserving the money of Zakat.”
2. Is building and establishing Islamic Schools considered a perpetual charity (sadaqah jariyah)?
The idea of a perpetual charity (sadaqah jariyah) is that you’re gift or donation will continue to manifest itself in the present and future. By helping to establish such a gift, you are creating a mechanism to give money or cause on a regular basis to a person or organization.
Contributing to the establishment of a school that has the opportunity to benefit generation after generation of children is a great example of perpetual charity. Along with beneficial knowledge and good progeny who will pray for the demised, sadaqah jariyah is a rare action that will benefit a person in this life in the next.