Can a charity use Zakah to cover administration costs?
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Allah states in the Quran, “The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free the captives and the debtors, and for the cause of Allah, and (for) the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is knower, Wise.” (Surah At Tuaba: 60)
For the payment of Zakat to be valid it is necessary that someone deserving from the above categories should be given possession of the Zakat property from its owner. This can be done by either the donator or his appointed proxy (i.e. charity).
It is stated in Durrul Mukhtar that Zakat is the transfer of ownership (tamlik) of a part of one’s wealth which Shariah has specified to be given to a poor Muslim who is not from the Banu Hashim and nor amongst his servant whilst not providing the giver any means of benefit whatsoever, for the sake of Allah Most high. (Vol 2, P2)
It is clear from the above that Zakat is something that is given to the poor without any kind of return and benefit. Therefore charities who in reality act as a proxy for the donator cannot keep or accept in return a portion of the Zakat as wages, admin etc. However, Zakat collectors (Aamileen) may receive a wage from the collection of Zakat as it is the responsibility of the Imam/Ameer in an Islamic state to collect Zakat and ensure that it is distributed to the poor. Allah states in the Quran: “Take alms from their wealth, so that they may thereby be cleansed and purified…” (Surah At Tauba: 103). Therefore the Aamileens are agents (through the appointment of the Imam/Ameer) on behalf of the poor; hence the wages given to them is not from those who are paying the Zakat, rather from the poor on whose behalf these people are working.
Only Allah knows best.
Darul Ifta, Birmingham