Zakah can only be given to muslims.

Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,

As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)


One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:

salaam aleikum

well, I have also been told that zakat can be given only to a muslim. In the 8 categories listed as criterion for being able to take zakat, no where does it say that Zakat needs to be given only to believers. You may have a non-muslim who is Poor, Needy, In Bondage or in Debt.

I feel the idea of giving zakat only to muslims is quite restricted in a moral sense. What is the difference in helping a muslim and a non-muslim? Sure u can help by supererogatory charity but why the denotion, why the split? 


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Zakah can only be given to muslims

In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.


Although time and time again, Allah Subhanah in His Glorious Quran and the Messenger of Allah (saws) in his Sunnah has exhorted the believers to spend in charity, it is indeed true there is no specific injunction in the Glorious Quran that charity should only be spent on the believers.  There are numerous examples in the authentic and established Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saws) where he (saws) openly exhorted the believers to spend in charity on even those who choose to disbelieve in Allah and the Last Day.


The literal meaning of the Arabic term ‘zakah’ is to purify, to cleanse, or to increase…..and although ‘zakah’ is generally regarded as ‘charity’, and finds mention in association with the obligation of ‘salah’ (prayers) in the Glorious Quran no less than eighty-two times….the Messenger of Allah (saws) time and time again made it clear that the ‘zakah’ is an obligation and a right which the Lord Most High has kept for the poor amongst the believers in the wealth of those believers whom He has blessed with abundance….so much so that ‘zakah’ is considered one of the five inviolable pillars upon which the deen of Islam stands. 


Secondly, ‘zakah’ is only collected from the rich amongst the believers; the disbelievers living in an Islamic State are exempt from paying any ‘zakah’ on their wealth to the Islamic State. 


Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 5.634         Narrated by Ibn Abbas

Allah's Messenger (saws) said to Hadrat Muadh bin Jabal (r.a.) when he sent him (as a governor) to Yemen, "You will come to the people of Scripture, and when you reach them, invite them to testify that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that Muhammad (saws) is His Messenger. And if they obey you in that, then tell them that Allah has enjoined on them five prayers to be performed every day and night. And if they obey you in that, then tell them that Allah has enjoined on them ‘zakah’ which is to be taken from the rich amongst them (the believers) and given to the poor amongst them (the believers). And if they obey you in that, then be cautious! Don't take their best properties (as Zakah), and be afraid of the curse of an oppressed person, as there is no screen between his invocation and Allah."


Allah Subhanah has declared it obligatory upon the eligible believers to fulfill the obligation of ‘zakah’; the Messenger of Allah (saws) corroborated it by his example and his Sunnah; and the scholars and jurists in Islam are in absolute consensus that although one is at liberty to spend on anyone and anything for the Sake of Allah Subahnah through ‘sadaqah’ (voluntary charity); ‘zakah’ (or obligatory charity) can and should only be collected from the rich amongst the believers and distributed amongst the poor and needy amongst the believing society. 


It is reported on the authority of Hadrat Ali (r.a.) ibn Abi Taalib, that the Prophet (saws) said: "Allah has enjoined upon rich Muslims a due to be taken from their properties corresponding to the needs of the poor among them (the believers). The poor will never suffer from starvation or lack of clothes unless the rich neglect their due. If they do, Allah will surely hold them (the rich believers) accountable and punish them severely.”

Related by Tabarani.


Although in almost all civil matters there is no distinction in dealings between a believer and a disbeliever in Shariah Law, some specific matters like marriage, inheritance, entrance to the Sacred House of Allah in Makkah, legality of food, etc. there is a clear and precise distinction by Allah and His Messenger (saws) between believers and disbelievers…..and there is an absolute consensus amongst scholars and jurists in Islam, without exception, that the obligatory ‘zakah’ can only be collected from the believers and spent on the believers.  And Allah Alone Knows Best.


Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah’s Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me alone.  Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.


Your brother and well wisher in Islam,





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