In the Name of Allaah, the Ever-Compassionate, the Bestower of Mercy…
A number of scholars of the past, from different math-habs, lands, and time periods, have cited ijmaa’ (scholarly consensus) on the impermissibility of spending zakaat on general charities, like building masjids, roads, bridges, or buying a shroud for a dead person or paying his debts. They viewed that “fee sabeelillaah” (in the way of Allaah) in the verse of zakaat recipients (9:60) was specific to the Muslim army and its battles, and some added: Battles and Hajj.
The following citations from early scholars oppose the general broader understanding promoted by some later scholars and writers that “fee sabeelillaah” (in the way of Allaah) includes all types of charity and good deeds loved by Allaah:
1. Aboo ‘Ubayd al-Qaasim ibn Sallaam (d.224)
Regarding paying the debts of the deceased, buying shrouds for him, building masjids, or routing rivers, and similar things of a charitable nature, then Sufyaan (ath-Thawree), the scholars of Iraq, and others have all agreed that this does not fulfill the duty of zakaat, since these are not from its eight categories.
Source: His book, Kitaab al-Amwaal, 2/293.
2. Ibn Hazm (d.456)
There is no dispute (amongst the scholars) that Allaah did not intend (by “fee sabeelillaah”) every good and charitable kind of thing when distributing zakaat, thus it is not permissible to be spent in other than the ways identified by the text, which is what I have mentioned previously (i.e. on the Muslim army).
Source: His book, al-Muhallaa, 6/102.
3. Ibn al-‘Arabee (d.543)
I know of no differing (amongst the scholars) over the intended meaning of ‘fee sabeelillaah’ here (in the verse of zakaat, Quran 9:60) that it refers to the battles (of the Muslim Army), and this is something done for Allaah’s pleasure, except that it is reported from Ahmad [ibn Hanbal] and Is-haaq [ibn Raahwayh] that they said it includes Hajj.
Source: His book, Ahkaam al-Qur’aan, 2/435.
4. Ibn Hubayrah (d.560)
The Imaams have agreed that it is not permissible to, nor is it valid to spend zakaat to build Masajid or bridges, or shroud the dead, or other (charitable) things, since zakaat was not legislated for that.
Source: al-Ifsaah, as found in Nayl al-Ma’aarib of al-Bassaam, 2/71.
5. Ibn Qudaamah (d.620)
This (“fee sabeelillaah”) is the seventh category of zakaat recipients. There is no differing over their right to receive it or that the ruling is still in effect. There is also no differing over them being members of the Muslim Army fee sabeelillaah, since the way of Allaah when mentioned without a further restriction is understood to refer to battles…
Source: His book, al-Mughnee, 9/326.
And Allaah knows best.
Written by: Moosaa Richardson
ST Archives – Originally Published 02-22-2008