Question # 177: Assalaamu alaikum, I want to ask why it is necessary to give zakat and sadqa to a Muslim only. I mean if we see some non-Muslim in need of financial help why can’t we help them with zakat and sadqa coz we believe that our fardh will not be fulfilled if we do so and we won’t get any reward for it either. Is there any reference from Quran and ahadith for this? This question was asked by a revert friend of mine… I personally believe in following the laws of shariah even if i dont know or understand the logic behind. But Islam is a practical religion so there must be some hikmah behind it if it is a shariah law. Please help

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: It is permissible to give charity (sadaqah) to non-Muslims and this action will be rewarded, but they should not be given the obligatory charity, i.e. zakat, unless they are those whose hearts are to be softened (i.e., they are close to embracing Islam). Also, it is a condition for giving charity to non-Muslims that they should not be involved in fighting the Muslims.

Long Answer: It is prohibited to give Zakah to a disbeliever… because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said that Zakah “is to be taken from the rich amongst them and be given to the poor amongst them,” (Narrated by Ibn Majah and others) meaning that Zakah is to be taken from the rich amongst Muslims and be paid back to the poor also amongst them, and thus non-Muslims are not to be given anything of it. Ibnul-Mundhir says, “All the scholars we have learned (religious and fiqhi knowledge) from unanimously agree that no [disbeliever] is to be given anything from the property of Zakah.”

However, it is permissible to give such people voluntary alms because it has been narrated by Muslim that Asma’ Bint Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنها) asked the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) whether she could keep the tie of kinship with her polytheist mother through some property and he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said to her, “Yes, keep the ties of kinship with your mother.” (‘500 Questions and Answers on Islamic Jurisprudence’ by Muhammad M. ‘Abdul-Fattah)

It is permissible to give charity to non-Muslims and this action will be rewarded, if they are in need of it, but they should not be given the obligatory charity, i.e. zakat, unless they are those whose hearts are to be softened (i.e., they are close to embracing Islam). It is a condition for giving charity to non-Muslims that they should not be involved in fighting the Muslims or driving them from their homes, because charity in such cases would be seen as helping them to wage war against the Muslims. (Fatawa Mutanawwi’ah by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen)

Imam al-Shafi’i said: “There is nothing wrong with giving charity to a mushrik as a naafilah (supererogatory) action, but he has no right to charity from the obligatory (zakah). Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) praised people who, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): ‘… they give food, inspite of their love for it (or for the love of Him), to the Miskeen (the poor), the orphan, and the captive’ [Soorah al-Insaan, 76:8].” (Kitaab al-Umm, part 2) (Islamqa.info)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam