Question # 54: Is it permissible to build a mosque using zakat money?
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).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: Mosques are not one of the eight categories mentioned in Soorah at-Tawbah 9:60. However, contemporary scholars, especially in the West, have permitted Zakaah funds to be used for projects such as building mosques based on the interpretation of seventh type “in the cause of Allah” [“fi sabilillah“] in the given aayah and if there are not sufficient funds (other than Zakaah) for this cause, as there is a dire need to build and maintain Islamic institutes in the West.
Long Answer: The Standing Committee was asked whether it is permissible to spend zakaah money in refurbishing the mosque, etc. They replied as follows:
With regard to zakaah, it is only to spent in eight ways which are specified by Allah in the aayah: “As-Sadaqat (here it means Zakaah) are only for the Fuqaraa’ (poor), and Al-Masaakeen (the poor) and those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s Cause (i.e., for Mujaahidoon), and for the wayfarer (a traveller who is cut off from everything)” (Soorah at-Tawbah 9:60)
Mosques are not one of the eight categories mentioned in the aayah, which limits the spending of zakaah to these eight. (Fataawa Islamiyyah) (Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid)
The aayah, which lists the eight categories of those who are to receive Zakaah, is mentioned in a restrictive way (by using “only”) and with a word which clearly indicates possession (i.e., “for”), as it reads, (As-Sadaqat (here it means Zakaah) are only for the poor…) to the end of the aayah; whereas things such as “schools,” “mosques,” and “hospitals” cannot “possess” anything because they are not “persons”. Ibn Qudamah says that it is not permissible to use the money of Zakaah for anything other than what Allah has defined, such as establishing mosques and bridges, shrouding the dead, or anything of the kind, because the aayah containing the recipients of Zakaah “defines” and “restricts” them and thus any other thing or person is to be excluded. (‘Simplified Islamic Jurisprudence’ by Abdul-Fattah)
[However,] the fatwa delivered by a number of well known contemporary scholars, permitting Zakaah to be paid to charitable projects such as building mosques and funding da’wah projects, has gained wide circulation amongst Muslims, especially in the west, due to its seeming correctness and the convenience it provides to Muslims involved in raising funding for such projects. However, it goes against all four Sunni legal schools who do not consider such a payment as constituting a valid Zakaah payment. The fatwa about the permissibility of doing so is aberrant (shadhdh), as countless Sunni scholars have shown. It is enough that it was only spread in the 20th Century by the likes of Abduh, Rida, Mawdudi, and later Dr. Qaradawi. (Sunnipath Fiqh Team)
[The members of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America states that as for]… the seventh type “in the cause of Allah” [“fi sabilillah“], many contemporary scholars argue that this would now include all means of dawah and some, such as Ibn Jibreen and Yusuf al-Qaradawi, go as far as allowing the building of masjids from the zakaah money, if there are not sufficient funds for this cause… [as]… there is a dire need… to build and maintain Islamic institutes in the West. (Fatwa of Dr. Hatem al-Haj and Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah, Member of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America)
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.