Zakat Distribution Checklist

Can you please provide a checklist for organisations that distribute Zakat to make sure they are adhering to the correct legal rulings?

It is absolutely obligatory for every person working in such a field to make sure they have studied the Fiqh of Zakat thoroughly. It is not permitted to get involved in distributing Zakat without having studied it thoroughly. The Prophet ﷺ said:

طَلَبُ الْعِلْمِ فَرِيضَةٌ عَلَى كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ
“Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim”

Sunan Ibn Mājah 224

The checklist below is only truly going to be of any benefit for people who have actually studied the Fiqh of Zakat in sufficient detail, as they will have a good understanding of what these points actually mean and the details related to them.

  1. Use the Nisab of silver and not gold when distributing Zakat money and when helping people to calculate it.
  2. Make reasonable inquiries to make sure the recipient is truly eligible.
  3. Keep in mind and inquire regarding local misconceptions when it comes to receiving Zakat, for example, many people from the subcontinent think a particular amount of gold is excused from Nisab.
  4. Make sure the money is always given to a poor Muslim individual, not a community project or Dawah organisation.
  5. Avoid following weak opinions or contemporary Fatwas that contradict authentic opinions within the Hanafi Madhab, for example, avoid giving Zakat to students of the Islamic sciences even if they have Nisab. This is based on a weak opinion and should not be followed.
  6. The organisation distributing Zakat should not take any money for its own operational costs or overheads. Rather, the entirety of the Zakat money must be given to the eligible recipient.
  7. Make sure Tamleek takes place, which means a transfer of ownership as opposed to Ebaahah, which is permission to use or consume.
  8. Make sure the recipient does not have excessive possessions (Nisab Hirmaan al-Zakat).
  9. Make sure the recipients of Zakat are not from the Bani Hashim.

Further recommendations:

  1. Avoid giving so much to a particular individual that it will put him above Nisab.
  2. If there are a number of eligible recipients, give to the recipient or recipients who are most needy whenever possible.
  3. When there are multiple eligible recipients, try to give to those who are going to be most useful to the community.
  4. As often as possible, try to give the recipients money rather than food or clothing, unless the situation necessitates giving food and clothing.