Zakah to Islamic School (Live Fatwa)

Questions and Answers of a Live Fatwa Session with Dr. Monzer Kahf
By Shari`ah Staff

MK - Foto

On Monday, August 27, 2012, we managed to run a successful e-mail based Live Fatwa session on “401k Invest and Zakah to Islamic School or Masjid” with Dr. Monzer Kahf—the prominent Muslim economist and counselor.

Interestingly, users reacted positively and sent their questions via the Fatwa section’s e-mail address in and ahead of the session’s time. The honorable guest, Dr. Monzer Kahf answered all the questions.

Below you can review all questions and Dr. Kahf’s replies:


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Question 1:

Mohammad Adeel

Salam. I have question about 401k, is it allowed to invest in it for retirement? Thank You.


Dear Br. Mohammad,

In 401K, investment decisions, according to tax rules and 401K regulations, are taken in a collective manner by a committee. It normally does not abide by the Shari`ah rules.

On the other hand, these same rules and regulations contain many benefits to Muslim employees that are inappropriate to sacrifice. These benefits include: saving for retirement, tax deductibility and related tax benefits on return of investment, matching contribution of employer, etc.

My argument is that these benefits should not be sacrificed by Muslim employees because of the limitation on investment decision making, keeping in mind that investment in share is essentially permissible except is shares of companies which produce haram products, these companies are essentially avoided by Muslims to work in.

Therefore, my opinion is: it is permissible to be part of 401K and avail its benefits provided one applies the purification principle on the return of investment by estimating the part of the return (both dividends and capital gain) which is generated by bonds and non-permissible shares and giving it to Muslim charity. You should make this estimation yourself from the reports of the investment committee and other info available.

Allah Almighty knows best.


Question 2:

M. Shakeel Khan

As-salamu alykum. Is it permissible to give my Zakah to any Islamic school or to my masjid for their expenses such as rent, utilities, renovation etc.? Jazak Allah Khair.


Dear Br. Shakeel,

If the question is for America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the like, my answer is definitely NO. Mosques are always necessary for any Muslim community to maintain their religion and that of their children. The Shari`ah principle is that any Muslim community must have a mosque and other community facilities, and mosques should be established and spent on by members of the community outside the Zakah that is a right of the poor and needy.

In the past Muslims in these countries were very poor (students and poor Afro-American converts) and have no means and were endangered to lose their very religion, then the Fatwa was it is permissible on the ground that preservation of their religion is a part of “fi sabilil-llah” as an exception from the principle which prohibit using Zakah for mosques.

Now this exception does not apply anymore as Muslims in these countries have become well to do and able to spend on their mosques. It is the responsibility of the rich Muslims to spend on mosques in these countries not the responsibility of the poor because spending Zakah on mosques means charging these expenses to the poor who have the right to this Zakah.

As for schools, the matter is even stricter because educating Muslim children is the responsibility of their parents, more specifically their fathers; it is not the responsibility of the poor or even other members of the Muslim community. Poor Muslim families who cannot afford Muslim schools fees may be paid from Zakah on the basis of needs and poverty and they are of course free to use whatever they receive for food, school tuitions or any other expenses of their own. ZAKAH MUST NOT BE PAID TO THE SCHOOL FOR THESE FAMILIES.

Allah Almighty knows best.


Question 3:

Ismy – 22 – Male – UK

Halal/Haram Earnings

Salams. My question is regarding a graduate job that I am offered. I met all the requirements of the job that is BSc and O-levels except for one that is of A-levels in which one should have a specific grade in a specific subject. I wrote an extenuating circumstances letter stating that I was ill (which I was but NOT during the period I mentioned in the letter) and stated that my grade was affected by this circumstance. They accepted my application and I had to go through all the processes of recruitment i.e. online tests, interviews, etc. and I passed all of them. I need to know: will the earnings be halal or haram based on the fact that I lied about my A-levels grade.

My Answer:

Dear Ismy,

You could have avoided the lie by being not specific about the dates since you were ill anyway. But now that it is done anyway you should make istighfar (asking for forgiveness) for that mistake. Your earning will be against the work you do, not against the application for the job. Your earning will then be halal, inshaa’ Allah, as long as you do your job with sincerity and fulfill the job requirements in a normal manner.

Allah Almighty knows best.


Question 4:

Rez – UK

Miss – Father’s Income

Asalamu alaykum I have two short questions:

My father’s income is 100% haram. He bought me and my sister each a house. Can I accept this house? Can I rent it out? Will the rent be halal for me? Thanks.


Dear Sr.,

How do you determine that his earning is haram, stating it is really a big thing unless you are extremely very sure like being sure that all he does is stealing money from other people or he is a drug trafficker!

If the source of money for the house is drug trafficking or theft, it remains haram for you. But if the source of money is interest earned on lending his money on interest, it is haram for him and not haram for you, because you received it as a gift and the sin of riba is his. If we determine that it is not haram for you (and your sister), you may then use it anyway you like.

Allah Almighty knows best.


Question 5:

New Muslim – Decli – US

Non-Halal Food Served to Non-Muslim

My family is not Muslim. Is it permissible for me to serve them haram meat or food? What if my family comes to my house and they bring pork with them because they want to eat it instead of the food I cooked? Is it haram for me to take that pork and serve it to them or give it to them even if I did not buy stir bring it? Is preparation (preparing) of haram food or serving haram food to non-Muslims permissible?


Dear Brother,

This is a very important and delicate matter. Let us look at the rules:

1. Prohibition is really based on the harm involved because Allah only prohibits what is bad.

2. Things which are haram to use or eat are also haram to buy or sell.

3. In liquor, the prohibition is expanded to include all that is related to drinking from brewing to carrying, serving and drinking. In pork, the prohibition is eating. Therefore, there are views that argue the permissibility of using pork product for non-eating purposes such as using the hide/skin for shoes.

Serving to eat is definitely different from eating but also related to it as the principle is the potential harm (which we may not know scientifically yet but we believe it  by faith because of the prohibition itself).

4. There is a strong Fiqhi (juristic) argument about the lack-of-cleanliness of pork (the concept of najasah) which means that any wet thing touched by it will have najasah too and that we need to clean every tools and pots used for pork separately.

My suggestion is to: certainly no buy by a Muslim of pork products for eating even by non-Muslims guests/relatives. Also try to avoid serving it as much as you can unless embarrassed by a non-Muslim father or mother (not other relatives), but you can have it for them on the table (especially if you have a non-Muslim to offer it for them instead of you).

Allah Almighty knows best.


Question 6:

Sara – 25

Question on Zakah

Salamu `Alaikum. First of all I'd like to wish you and OnIslam team a very blessed `Eid, may Allah (SWT) accept all your good deeds inshaa' Allah.

Secondly, I have a question regarding paying Zakah. I'm 25 years old and I've never before paid Zakah in my life. I really want to start paying it but I need a full detailed explanation on it, as I've read so many times about it but I couldn't get a clear idea on how to calculate it and when to pay it.

First of all, I need to know on what conditions could someone pay Zakah? My current situation is as follows:

I work as a part timer and my salary isn't fixed as I get paid per hour. In other words, my salary is in the form of wages; it ranges from 2000-2500 L.E.

Unfortunately my job isn't even stable as I get to work project-based so sometimes I'm not working and sometimes I am. I'm also living off my dad's pension, my dad passed away a long time ago. So, my whole family (composed of 4 members; my mum, my two younger brothers, and me) lives off his pension which ranges from 4000-6000 L.E.

After having explained my financial situation, now I need a very simple method as to how I should calculate my Zakah, and when should I pay it? I never understood how to calculate it by using the gold/silver percentage and the meaning of the term "hawl". So, I'd highly appreciate it if you could explain it to me simply according to my financial status.

As usual I'd like the answer to be sent to me on my e-mail address if you please. Thanks so much for all your efforts and JAK.


Dear Sr. Sarah,

First I don’t know what the L.E. is, is it Egyptian pound? The matter is a lot much simpler than you thought. Since you live off the pension of your late father, please remember when you had an amount that is equal to US $ 1500 for the first time, this makes the beginning of your Zakah year and the first time you are required to pay Zakah was 354 days after that date (which is a whole year - al-hawl in Arabic). The rate is 2.5% of the balance you have on the 354th day. You repeat the same every 354 days from then. Also, keep in mind that past due Zakah does not die out you still should pay it arrear.

Now explanation:

1. Zakah is not on the Salary/wage itself but on the saved part of it.

2. The hawl is a lunar year and begins the first time you acquire the nisab – the amount of money due to Zakah (which may come from any source including gifts, saving from salary, any other earning, inheritance, etc.)

3. The nisab is what determines being subject to Zakah. It comes from 200 Dirham (silver) or 20 dinar (gold) my estimation of it is about US $1500. I don’t go by the speculative increase in the prices of gold over the last few years because they do not reflect the real value. So, I keep founding it on older prices.

BTW, I like you to remember that since pensions systems all over the world assign specific amount to each family member of the deceased, if there is any saving over time out of the pension, each family member (minor or adult) is required to pay own due Zakah by applying the same procedure mentioned above.

Allah Almighty knows best.


Question 7:

Zakat to a Relative

As-salamu `alaykum. My mother gives a small portion of her annual Zakah to her mother's cousin. The cousin is a single female who is middle aged and has no parents. A few years ago my mother collected Zakah from a number of relatives so that the cousin could buy a small house for herself. The cousin does not have a job.

Recently, when my mother was preparing to give the cousin Zakah, my mother's aunt said that the cousin is not eligible to receive so much because the cousin has nephews and niece who have moved in with her and two of them have jobs.

But the cousin used to phone every week and asks for money. So, my mother gave her.

We cannot verify the cousin's situation because she lives in another city and when we used to ask her when we could come and see her new house she used to make excuses.

My mother felt that the cousin deserves the money as she is a single woman and has no brother or son to look after her, and that the money is barely enough to buy food each month. Now my mother is worried that will her Zakah be counted?


Dear Br.,

Of course, the worry is justified, you should be sure that your Zakah is given to a deserving person. The fact that the cousin is not married and has no son or brother is not sufficient. But also the fact that nieces and nephews moved in with her does not mean they spend on her.

You really should verify whether she deserves Zakah or not, maybe she collects rent from them which may supply her with sufficient income to remove her out of poverty. It is also possible that they do not care about her and they forced themselves on her, as a powerless woman, so she is still in need.

Allah Almighty knows best.

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