Fatwa ID: 87740
Title: Using zakat money to pay the center’s salaries and general expenses due to the economic circumstances associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
Category: Financial Transactions
Scholar: AMJA Resident Fatwa Committee
Date: 03/27/2020

Question

Is it permissible to use zakat money to pay the center’s salaries and general expenses due to the economic circumstances associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?


Answer

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Beneficent

All praise belongs to Allah and may prayers and peace be upon Allah’s Messenger, his family, his Companions, and all those that followed them.

The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) has already ruled on this case during its conference about adversities affecting mosques and Islamic centers, and has declared the following:

"regarding spending zakat money to build, decorate, or operate the masjid:

  • The scholars have differed regarding what is intended by “in the way of Allah” when applied to zakat. There are those who hold a narrow view, some who hold a broad view, and others in the middle. The safest view when it comes to building the masjid is to limit it to funds received from voluntary charity, and not to use obligatory zakat money except due to dire need.
  • It is legislated to spend zakat money for religious propagation (da’wah) and on what is required to support this work, because this is included in the meaning of “in the way of Allah” found in the verse pertaining to spending zakat. This was the declaration made by the International Islamic Fiqh Academy associated with the Muslim World League.
  • Spending on an insolvent debtor includes a mosque’s loans; therefore, it is possible to use zakat money to pay them off. As for loans paid in installments, zakat is not to be used for these, with the exception of immediate installment payments.
  • It is not permitted to use zakat money to decorate the mosques. It is, however, permitted to do so with general charitable contributions, so long as such decoration is not considered excessive, nor distracts the congregants in prayer, nor is from funds that have been restricted by the donors."

In accordance with what has preceded, if the mosque’s income, i.e., its receipts from charitable contributions, has diminished and it is unable to cover its employees’ salaries, it is permitted to use zakat money for this purpose. It should be noted, however, that this exception will be voided once its associated circumstances cease to exist.

Also, specific rulings should be sought in order to justify the use of zakat for other types of expenses.

And Allah the Exalted knows best.