ADVICE TO THOSE WILLING TO SET UP THEIR OWN ZAKAT FOUNDATION

What prompted the writing of this advice was a series of conversations that I had with Muslim brothers working at Muslim Hands UK last Ramadhan and with other brothers leading Muslim communities in East London. Trying to understand the situation we are in, I decided to research the concept of zakaat and its institution. Then, based on this research and on the advice taken from the scholars I found that it was essential to open the debate so that zakat related projects could come forward as a result of us engaging with the wider Muslim community.

Islam is a religion which encompasses all areas of human life dealing with creed, worship, etiquettes of social life and with general dealings and transactions (mu’amalaat). In any case, Islam is based on Islamic knowledge and discipline in its implementation.
Sheikh Al Uthaymeen rahimahullah in his book Fathu Dhil Jalaali waI Ikraam bisharhi Bulugh al Maraam (vol 6, Book of Zakat, page 341) advised that those foundations or organisations dealing with this type of charity work must employ people under three essential conditions.

1. Knowledge
Employees in those foundations must have sound knowledge of the jurisprudence of zakaat also called in Arabic Fiqhuz-Zakaat. Practically, it would be advisable to employ people who hold a recognised qualification from a recognised Islamic university which testifies that they studied in a faculty of shariah law or at least, they should have a recommendation/tazkiyah from a scholar testifying that they have studied and specialised in Fiqhuz-Zakaat.

Employees must know:
the different amounts of nisab depending on the nature of the zakatable wealth, the zakatable types of wealth,
how to calculate the amount of zakat due on various types of wealth, assets and property,
who the deserving recipients are and how to identify them.

WITNESSES/SHUHADAAH
The necessity of having witnesses is something which is present in shariah law. Here is a summary of how many witnesses are needed (page 328):
4 men To bear witness in cases related to zina (fornication/adultery)
3 men To bear witness to the state of poverty of a miskin or faqir if they used to be rich in the past.
2 men To bear witness to a nikaah contract
2 men To bear witness in cases related to hudood (prescribed punishment),(except cases of zina, qasas and cases related to money or wealth)
2 men or 1 man and 2 women To bear witness of debt statements
1 man To bear witness in court in disputes related to money, property, blood,etc...
1 woman To bear witness in women’s health related cases such as breastfeeding and miscarriage, etc.

Bulugh al Maraam, Chapter of claims and evidences:
On the authority of Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

Were people to be given everything that they claimed, men would [unjustly] claim the wealth and lives of [other] people. But, the onus of proof is upon the claimant, and the taking of an oath is upon him who denies.

A hasan hadeeth narrated by al-Baihaqee and others in this form, and part of it is in the two Saheehs.
عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم قَالَ: "لَوْ يُعْطَى النَّاسُ بِدَعْوَاهُمْ لَادَّعَى رِجَالٌ أَمْوَالَ قَوْمٍ وَدِمَاءَهُمْ، لَكِنَّ الْبَيِّنَةَ عَلَى الْمُدَّعِي، وَالْيَمِينَ عَلَى مَنْ أَنْكَرَ" .

Hadeeth 33 in the 40 Hadeeth Book of Imam An Nawawi.
However, if the person was known in the community to have been always poor or needy, his or her statement is accepted without any condition and no proof is requested; but if the claimant was not known and claimed for the whole household, some evidences should be shown regarding the number of people in the household and regarding the income of the household.
In regard to the three witnesses who bear witness that one has fallen into poverty after being
wealthy, they must be people:
  • Who are not heedless or careless
  • Who are sound of mind
  • Who do not make decisions or judgments under emotions
  • Who have experience of dealing with their community, knowing mentalities, laws and customs.
  • Who have expertise in assessing people’s income and circumstances. (page 322)

  • NEED FOR VERIFICATION
    It is mandatory/waajib upon those who give out their zakaat to identify the financial situation of those who ask for help. (Tawdheeh Al Ahkaam, page 424)
    In the context of zakat foundations, it is waajib upon those foundations to have employees whose remit is to identify the eligible recipients through meticulous and strict assessment policies.
    Ultimately, employees must see and verify all paperwork to establish the identity of the claimant, the income of the household, its outgoings and debts.
    As for those in debt, employees must be reassured that claimants are willing to pay off their debt themselves but genuinely cannot do so. This implies that they should already have a debt settlement plan in place or they should be able to prove that they cannot afford setting up one. This should also be verified.

    3. TRUST/AMAANAH
    Evidence:
    And one of the two women said: "O my father! Hire him! Verily the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy
    Also, in the context of charity organisations, it is absolutely essential that a policy of monitoring and supervision be put in place so that every single donation can be traced at all stages.This would imply that Muslims in the community set up monitoring bodies as third parties whose remit would be to check that all transactions are recorded and that the donations are distributed to the deserving recipients.This need for transparency and accountability is essential for such projects to be set up in safe and sound conditions and Allah knows best.
    NOTE:Regarding zakaat workers, Sheikh Al Uthaymeen rahimahullah mentioned in his great work “Majmoo’ al fataawa” (vol18 page 507) that these zakat workers are actually
    A. As for the individuals who from their own initiative collect zakaat from the community to distribute it to eligible recipients they are considered as “wukalaa”
    B. And if these individuals (wukala) request a wage for their duty, they must be given a wage from another source of money as it is not permissible to pay them from
    C. This opinion is also shared by Hanafi scholars in Pakistan who argue that charity organisations which do not work under the authority of the Muslim ruler/Islamic State are not
    Therefore it is totally unlawful/haraam for charity organisations to cover their administrative
    costs with the zakat funds and likewise it is prohibited to pay Zakat Workers with the
    In the Muslim lands, where the Muslim ruler administers the zakaat, the collection also called in Arabic “jibaayat” and distribution called “tawzee’” are managed by zakaat workers
    Under Shariah law, the State Treasury also called “Baytul maal” would cover the administrative costs related to the building where the offices would be located, the recording equipment, the storage facility, the delivery service and the employees’ wages. See Al
    In the context where the state is not involved in the administration of zakat, it is permissible for the voluntary sector to manage zakat without receiving a wage for it. Otherwise administrative costs and employees’ wages could be coming from sadaqah or waqf or Furthermore, HMRC have a scheme where those who donate or sell property to a charity for less than its market value can claim Income Tax Relief and Capital Gains Tax Relief. As for utility bills and maintenance costs, they could be covered by sadaqah from the community or by sponsors/muhsinoon.
    CHALLENGES AND ISSUES
    RELATED TO SETTING UP ZAKAT FOUNDATIONS:
    CONFIDENTIALITY
    As any other official organisation, it is crucial that confidentiality policies are put in place in order to protect the employees and the beneficiaries.
    ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY
    Theft and embezzlement of zakaat funds are the two main threats in this type of project. This is why Muslims must set up monitoring bodies to scrutinize the work of
    IMPARTIALITY
    In London, Muslim communities are faced with “nepotism” or “in-group favouritism”.Tribal or ethnic nepotism has led many Muslim organisations to underperform due to the lack of qualified individuals in their community. The allegiance to a particular leader, preacher, Sheikh or to an Islamic group has also fuelled bigotry and as a result caused a lot of division and enmity within the Muslim In this context, setting up Zakat Foundations in the UK should be done by some type of supervision from Muslim scholars specialized in this field of zakat.
    These Zakaat Foundations must be independent in that sense that they do not fall
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST
    The reason why mosques, Islamic organisations or Islamic bookstores cannot be dealing with zakat funds management is that they are not fit for purpose and
    Mosques and Islamic centres were set up to respond to the religious needs of a particular ethnic community. They are usually run by committees which are
    Islamic bookstores were set up to offer a service to a specific religious community. They are run for profit.
    Islamic Charities generally maintain that there is no one eligible for zakat
    Finally, I would like to encourage my brothers and sisters, before embarking on such projects, to research these issues in more depth and to consult our scholars in the Islamic countries

    To conclude, I would like to quote a few ahadeeth that highlight the bond between the creed/aqeedah, the concept of God awareness/taqwa, the concept of trust/amanah and Warrad, the scribe of Al Mughirah bin Shu’bah may Allah be pleased with him, said: Al Mughirah bin Shu’bah dictated a letter to me addressed to Mu’awiyah may Allah be pleased no partner. To Him belongs the dominion and the praise and He is able to do everything. Oh Allah! Nobody can withhold what You give; and nobody can give what You withhold; and the persistent questioning, disobedience to mothers, infanticide of daughters by burying them alive, depriving others of their rights and wrongfully acquiring others’ property. (Hadeeth found in Riyaadhussaliheen in the chapter of the prohibition of squandering wealth and originally reported by Al Bukhari&Muslim) Narrated Abu Hurairah, the Messenger of Allah peace and blessings be upon him said: “Three are the signs of a hypocrite: when he speaks he tells a lie, when he makes a promise he acts treacherously against it, when he is trusted he betrays”. Narrated Abu Hurairah: While the Prophet was saying something in a gathering, a Bedouin came and asked him: “When would the Hour (Doomsday) take place? “Allah’s messenger continued his talk, so some people said that Allah‘s Messenger had not heard it. When the Prophet peace and about the Hour”? The Bedouin said, “I’m here O Allah’s messenger.” Then the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him said, “When honesty is lost, then await the Hour (Doomsday).” The Bedouin said, “How will that be lost?” The Prophet said: “When power or authority comes into the hands of unfit persons, then await the Hour.” (Sahih Al I ask Allah that He grants us the ability to perform what is mandatory upon us as a community and that the poor and the destitute in the Muslim community residing in the Peace and blessings be upon our Prophet and his family and all praise belong to Allah the Lord of the Worlds.
    Sunday, 20 January 2013
    Brother Hassan Abu Tasneem