Ramadan is just around the corner and as such, the Ummah of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم will be paying their Zakat in droves to get closer to Allah ﷻ.It is preferred to give Zakat locally for as long as the social phenomenon of Islam and Muslims exist in a particular area. Scripture points to it, intuition points to it – likewise our normative tradition demonstrates this over the 1,400 years.The purpose of Zakat is for Islam to flourish as a commitment to Allah that inspires believers to strive for prosperity, harmony, and justice. The result will be a faithful, successful community of Muslims, contributing to society for the benefit of all.Our responsibility is locally. Local distribution strengthens the sense of belonging to a community. Those within a society know best and most effective ways to cultivate the necessary socio-economic environment for Islam and Muslims to flourish.Here are five compelling reasons why local Zakat distribution should be the default practice in our communities:
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم advised his companions to do so.
When Islam was spreading, the Prophet ﷺ sent a number of companions around Arabia to invite the people to Islam. He instructed these companions to teach the primary obligations of Islam upon conversion.Abdullah Ibn`Abbas رضي الله عنه narrates (as part of a longer Hadith):“The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم sent Muadh رضي الله عنه to Yemen and said,
“Invite the people to testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah ﷻ and I am Allah’s Messenger, and if they obey you to do so, then teach them that Allah ﷻ has enjoined on them five prayers in every day and night (in twenty-four hours), and if they obey you to do so, then teach them that Allah ﷻ has made it obligatory for them to pay the Zakat from their property and it is to be taken from the wealthy among them and given to the poor.” (Bukhari)
The Companions understood Zakat to be local.
The experience of the early companions proved that when Zakat was collected and distributed to its worthy recipients, it led to the material uplifting of society.Umar b. al-Khattab رضي الله عنه admonished his governor in Yemen, Muadh b. Jabal رضي الله عنه after he had sent him one-third of the Zakat of Yemen:
“I have not sent you as a tax-collector, but to take from the rich and give to the poor.”
Muadh رضي الله عنه answered him:
“I would not send you anything had I found somebody to take it from me.”
In the second year, Muadh رضي الله عنه sent half the Zakat of Yemen and on the third year, he sent all the Zakat of Yemen to Umar رضي الله عنه in Madinah telling him that he did not find any person to accept the collected Zakat.(Narration 1912 (p. 710), Kitab al-Amwal of Imam Abu ‘Ubayd al-Qasim ibn Sallam)
It is a means if uniting different members of the community locally
Zakat fulfills the material needs of those around us. Since wealth is from Allah ﷻ and not due to our own intellect or skills, Allah ﷻ has ordered the wealthy to help those not given as much wealth. The establishment and maintenance of social solidarity is maximised when the gap between social classes is kept at a minimum. Undoubtedly, one of the most important functions that uphold these crucial relations between members of the local community is Zakat.
All 4 Madhabs agreed on local distribution.
The Hanbali school stipulates:“It is preferred to disburse all of the Zakat to the poor in his area unless there are no valid recipients in the land, in which he distributes it in the land closest to him.”(Al-Hajjawi, Zad al-Mustaqni’, p.78)The Shafi’i school stipulates:“If the categories of Zakat distribution are found in the place where Zakat is collected, it is prohibited and invalid to transfer the Zakat elsewhere.”(Reliance of the Traveller, p.272)The Maliki school stipulates:“Transferring Zakat (outside the locality) is impermissible, expect if there is a pressing need to do so.” (Tawdih al-Ahkam min Bulugh Al-Maram 3:27)The Hanafi school stipulates:“It is disapproved to transfer the Zakat of one land to another; unless he transfers it to his poor relatives, or to a people needier than his own.”(Al-Zayla’i, Nasab al-Rayah 2:423)
By giving locally, we can focus our Zakat to have the greatest benefit to Islam and Muslims.
The famous commentator of the Quran, Imam al-Tabari (d.310AH) commented on the only verse of Zakat expenditure found in Noble Quran (9:60):
“Allah ﷻ has instituted in this context Zakat for two functions, firstly to fulfill the needs of the Muslims and secondly to assist and strengthen Islam.”Quran (9:60)
We hope these points help you understand Zakat better and motivate you to pay it locally in the country you reside!
About our friends at the National Zakat Foundation:
Founded in 2011, National Zakat Foundation (NZF) operates as the only Zakat focused institution in their respective countries. They distribute Zakat comprehensively across the 8 categories in the following territories:Australia: https://payment.nzf.org.au United Kingdom: https://go.nzf.org.uk/payzakatCanada: https://nzfcanada.com/donate/Their vision is for Islam to flourish in society as a source of prosperity and harmony for all. Read about the excellent work that National Zakat Foundation is doing around the world and support them in your local community.