Q. Can a Muslim spend from Zakat for paying the school fees and for books for those who cannot afford to pay, medical treatment of the poor, maintenance of schools where almost all the students are from poor Muslim families, meeting marriage expenses, expenses incurred in connection with distributing books and literature conveying message of Islam. kindly clarify these doubts.
A. There precisely are eight heads for which Zakat is to be given. (1) The poor, (2) The Miskeens (Those needy persons who hide their poverty for self respect), (3) The workers engaged for collection and distribution of Zakat, (4) Whose hearts are to be reconciled (New converts or the potential converts among non-Muslims even though they may not be poor), (5) To free the captives (bonded labour etc), (6) The debtors, (7) For the cause of Allah or for the person who left his home for acquiring religious knowledge, or for travel expenses of a preacher) and (8) The wayfarers. (Qur’an 9:60)
Zakat can be given to the poor and the Miskeens for their studies and medical expenses, but you may not pay these expenses directly without their knowledge and consent. In principle, they must own the money given to them as Zakat and pay for their own tuition or medical dues. You may arrange it so with them that with their consent their tuition or medical expenses are paid directly to the concerned institution. Alternatively it may also be permissible that you donate out of the Zakat dues to such a reserve fund of a school or hospital which is exclusively meant for the poor and Miskeen. Those unable to pay the dues must be offered to draw from the funds for the necessary payment after being informed that it is Zakat money. It is also not permissible to spend the Zakat in purchasing the missionary literature for distribution. However, the books or clothes (uniforms) of needy students can be bought for them with their consent. It can also be given for marriage expenses of poor and Miskeens. In short, any kind of need of the poor and Miskeen may be provided from out of Zakat fund with their knowledge and consent. It must be mentioned here that one must be careful of Zakat collectors in the name of agents, mushrooming throughout the country, particularly in the month of Ramadan.