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Masaarif e Zakaat Who are the Legitimate Recipients of Zakat Can We Give Zakaat to Educational Institutions

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi,

(Dean of the Faculty, MLRC)

As we enter the final days (Ashrah Akheerah) of the sacred month of Ramzan, we seek ways to get closer to Allah. One of the best approaches to attain righteousness and closer relationship with Him is Zakaat, i.e. spending a certain amount of wealth on the poor. Allah, the Almighty clearly states:

“You shall not attain righteousness unless you spend on others of that which you love, and whatever you spend, verily God has knowledge of it.”

(The Glorious Qur’an: 3:92, Translated by Dr. Mohammad Tahir-ul-Qadri)

Literally, Zakaat means “purification” or “cleansing”. Though it encompasses the purification of all of one’s possession, it refers, most specifically, to one’s enormous wealth. However, it purifies not only the wealth of the giver but also his heart and mind from miserliness, greed and all selfish tendencies.

Imam Ghazali states in his spiritual discourses (Ihya Ulum al-Din): “The divine decree by which Allah bids His servants to spend their wealth, is also significant in purging the habit of miserliness, which is a deadly evil. It can only be eliminated by making oneself accustomed to spending money. The purity he acquires is in proportion to his expenditure, to his delight in giving away and to his joy in spending for the sake of God.”

Zakaat actually awakens and enlightens a humane spirit within us. It tells us that the acquisition of wealth is not an end in itself, nor is it to be squandered for lower motives. God has endowed it to certain people with it, to serve higher spiritual purposes. Clearly, it is not meant to gain power over the less fortunate through monopolization of the means of livelihood. Rather, the will of the endower, the Almighty, is to ensure kindness and charity from the rich to the poor: “Those who spend in charity, whether in prosperity or adversity, who restrain anger and pardon people; God loves those who do good to others.” This is the spiritual dimension of Zakaat.

Similarly, Zakaat purifies the hearts of the poor recipients from hostility, envy and all ill feelings that they harbour towards the rich. Instead, it fosters in their hearts goodwill and warm wishes for the contributors. Most remarkably, it instigates them to do special dua (prayer) for their helpers. And a prayer from a faqir (poor), yateem (orphan) or miskeen (beggar) will never be rejected in the court of Allah. For more details, please refer to the following book:

Masail e Zakat By Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri (Published by Minhaj Books and online available at https://www.minhajbooks.com)

Masaarif-e-Zakaat: Who are the Legitimate Recipients of Zakat?

Zakaat is distributed to faqir, miskeen, yateem (orphans), musafir (helpless travelers), maqrooz (debtors), etc. It was also given as a ransom to free the slaves. The holy Prophet (PBUH) liberated many slaves by paying ransom money. Similarly, he was so caring for the orphans that he promised, “The one who cares for an orphan and me will be together in paradise like this”, and held his two fingers together to illustrate”.

Can Zakaat be given to Muslim educational institutions?

Zakaat can be distributed to deserving individuals or groups who belong to any of the eight categories as mentioned in the Quran (Surah Al-Tawbah, 9:60); one of them is “Fi Sabeel-Allah” (in the Cause of Allah).

What does “Fi Sabeel-Allah” mean?

It refers to those who are on the path of Allah. This is the seventh category of those eligible to receive Zakaat. There is a difference of opinion among the jurists on the implication of the term “Fi Sabeel-Allah”. Imam al-Kasani al-Hanafi states: Fi Sabeel-Allah refers to all virtuous acts that achieve divine proximity. This includes everyone who struggles for virtuous acts and the obedience to Allah while they are eligible to receive Zakaat.

(Reference: Zakah and Charity by Sheikhul Islam Dr. Mohammad Tahir-ul-Qadri)

Can Zakaat be given for the purpose of educating poor Muslim children?

Yes, Zakaat can be paid for the purpose of educating Muslim children from poor families, which is permissible on the ground that most Muslim families in our country are either poor or middle class, and they cannot afford to pay for private education of their children and facilities for their essential Islamic teaching. Therefore, Zakaat can be paid for the education of underprivileged and needy Muslim children in the category of “Fi Sabilil-Allah” (in the Cause of Allah) on the basis of preserving the Deen of these poor Muslim children.

With a view to upbringing children in a proper Islamic way, payments for tuition of poor Muslim children as well as for supporting such Islamic educational institutions fall within the category of “Fi Sabilil-Allah”.

This category is essentially for the preservation of Deen and protection of Ummah. Therefore, Zakaat can be provided to such Muslim educational institutions for tuition fees of poor Muslim children by extension of this Qur’anic category of Zakaat and by stretching the meaning of this to protection and maintaining of the religion of these children.

Maintenance of the religion of these children is an essential responsibility of parents in particular, and the community at large. But the maintenance of the religion of poor Muslim children can only be achieved through a quality educational centre or modern Muslim institution where there are all the required facilities to fulfill this collective responsibility. In such Muslim educational institutions cases, Zakaat may be paid for poor Muslim children’s education. However, the objective of Zakaat must be maintained within the principal meaning and limit of the eight categories, especially the first one the poor and the needy as mentioned in the Qur’an.


Zakaat is the source of welfare of the Muslim community. Is it permissible to pay Zakat for the fees of needy students who are entitled to Zakat and is it permissible to pay Zakat to any educational institution for this purpose?


All such students, who are in need of education, and who do not have the resources, can get education with Zakat fund.

All types of students can get admission in such educational institutions but only those children who are entitled to it, will receive the Zakaat. Other students will pay their fees on their own and will not take Zakat. If the guardian of any student does not have the resources, and his wealth does not reach the Nisaab, then he/she can take Zakaat.

It is permissible, according to Shari’ah, to give Zakaat to such students, or to pay their fees with the Zakaat money. There is nothing wrong with that. Rather, it is necessary to help such deserving students, which is indeed a good deed, as they are the capital of the community and the nation. Therefore, it is permissible to financially support any such students who are acquiring useful knowledge with Zakat fund.

And Allah and His Messenger know best!

April 25, 2022

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