Fatwa ID: 01780
Answered by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Donor paying zakat for student’s university fees
Saaidina Ibn Masud narrates that the Prophet of Allah , said: “Every two loans extended by a Muslim to another count as one charitable payment.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
Saaidina Abu Hurayrah narrates that the Prophet , said: “whoever relieves the hardship of a Muslim in this life, Allah will relieve one of his hardship on the day of judgement; and whoever eases a financial difficulty for a Muslim, Allah will relieve his difficulties in this life and the hereafter…” (Sahih Muslim & Sunan Abu Dawud)
With regards to your question, there are two ways to look at this. The first way is that the donor is paying the fees on behalf of these poor students as a loan; thus, the students have to repay the money to a charitable organisation. The second way is that the donor is giving zakat money to the University for the Students Fees.
With regards to the first situation, this will be considered permissible. The donor has full control and ownership of his wealth, therefore, after paying for the students fees, if he now tells them to donate the money to a charitable organisation then it will be considered allowed according to the laws of the Sharia. It as though the creditor has made the debtor a representative to donate one’s loan for a good and religious deed.
With regards to the second situation, for the zakat to be valid it is necessary that the zakat be given into the possession of the recipient of zakat, and not directly to the school. However, if there is a need to circumvent this procedure, the one worthy of
receiving zakat may appoint someone as his representative. This person may
then receive zakaat on behalf of the actual recipient, and then pay the school fees on his behalf. This representative may also be an official of the school. (Ahsanul Fatawa p.260 v.4) Therefore, the zakat money given by the donor to one of the school officials will be considered as holding the zakat money on trust for the recipient and he will then pay the school fees on his behalf.
However, it is considered by far more virtuous and rewarding to give zakat and any other charity to worthy students and persons involved in deeni and religious activities. (Kifayatul Mufti p.275 v.4)
Going back to your question whether this donors zakat will be accepted or not, the answer is “no”. This is because 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 (tamleek) 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 or condition being placed. In the aforementioned scenario, we find the donor placing a condition that the students will have to pay back the fees (which were paid with zakat money) to a charitable organisation. This clearly conflicts with the principle of tamleek, thus, the zakat would not be valid.
Only Allah Knows Best
Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham