All four Schools of Thought agree that Zakat should NOT be generally distributed elsewhere if deserving candidates are found within the country where it is collected. Doing so is MAKRUH according to the four madhabs.
In the hadith that talks about the Messenger’s instructions to his companion Muadh when he was sent to Yemen we are told that he said, “O Muadh! You are going to a community who are of the People of the Book. So, first invite them to bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. If they accept this, then inform them that Allah makes five prayers in a day and night obligatory for them. If they accept this, then inform them that Allah makes charity (i.e., Zakat) obligatory for them. (It is) to be taken from their rich and given to their poor.” [Bukhari]
Based on the last part of this hadith, all the four schools of jurisprudence (madhabs) establish that as a rule Zakat should be distributed locally and not transferred elsewhere.
- According to the Hanbali School, “It is preferred to distribute all of the Zakat to the poor of his area. It is not permitted to reassign it to (a location) where prayer is to be shortened (if one travelled to it) – though if one does so it suffices – unless there are not any poor people in the land, in which case he distributes it in the land closest to him.” [Al-Hajjawi in Zad al-Mustaqni’]
- According to the Shafi School, “If the (eight) categories are found in the place where Zakat is collected, it is forbidden and invalid to transfer the Zakat elsewhere – except if it is being distributed by the ruler, in which case he may shift it to another place.” [Ibn Naqib in Umdat as-Salik]
- According to the Maliki School, transferring Zakat is not permissible unless there is a pressing need to do so. [Al-Bassam in Tawdih al-Ahkam min Bulugh al-Maram]
- According to the Hanafi School, “It is disapproved to transfer the Zakat of one land to another; unless he distributes it to his poor relatives or to a people needier than his own.” [Al-Zayla’i in Nasab al-Rayah Takhrij Ahadith al-Hidayah] This is also the opinion preferred by Ibn Taymiyyah.
In the UK, collection and distribution of Zakat needs to be undertaken by honest, reliable and competent organisations that are trusted both by Muslims, the wider public, and the British government, registered as a UK Charity, and who are above board with their accounts, being vetted by a leading independent firm of chartered accountants.
Such organisations must be soundly Islamic, broadly visible and reputable, and have both wide and intimate contact with the community. Moreover, such organisations must have relevant practical experience in social issues and charitable work, inclusive and welcome civic engagement, and work through various statutory bodies. JIMAS is assuredly just such an organisation.
We consider every application we receive and go out there to proactively determine Zakat recipients here in the UK from the categories below:
- Reverts facing difficulties after accepting Islam often coming into the Deen with huge financial debts
- Muslim women on the streets, homeless and penniless
- Muslim asylum seekers and refugees facing a harsh life of severe restrictions of work and varying measures of hostility
- Muslims turning away from faith or victims of missionary efforts here
- Muslims who are at the point of eviction or repossession
- Deprived families with breadwinners who have lost their means of income
- Individuals suffering from crushing debts
- Struggling single parent families
- People with end to end difficulties of homelessness
- Economic hardships of Muslim foreign students
- People whose hearts need to be reconciled who are almost completely overlooked by all major relief and aid organizations in the UK.
Of all the refugees and asylum seekers the majority is Muslims and they constitute 80% in some areas of the UK.