The heads for zakah spending have been enlisted in Surah Tawbah as under:
إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاء وَالْمَسَاكِينِوَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي الرِّقَابِوَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللّهِوَاللّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ (60:9)
Sadaqatare only for the benefit of faqirs and miskins, those who work for the collection thereof, those who must be appeased, for emancipating slaves, for freeing debtors of their debt burden, for the cause of Allah and for the wayfarers. It is a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is knower and wise. (9:60)
Now, an explanation of this verse follows.
1. Faqirsand Miskins
The first head described for spending zakah is faqirs and miskins. Since they have been mentioned first, they should have priority over all others as far as spending of zakah is concerned. When these two words are used separately in two different sentences, they convey a synonymous meaning. However, when they come simultaneously in a single sentence, a subtle difference in their connotation may be discerned. By faqir is meant a person who though is able to work and earn, and has the positive intention to do so, yet he faces financial constraints to earn livelihood. By miskin is meant a person who has been exhausted and worn out by a ceaseless wave of adversities so much so that he loses hope and finds no strength to overcome difficulties, and ultimately ends up becoming disillusioned with himself. Zakah, first of all, should be spent to help them out so that they may be able to live their life honourably.
For making their life honourable, just as it will be necessary to provide food, shelter and clothes to them, a proper arrangement for their education and training as well as for meeting their other psychological needs will also have to be made so that they may feel equal to the people around them in both social and ethical terms. Obviously, to begin with, their immediate needs should first be met on an urgent basis. Then, a comprehensive plan should be devised to help them stand on their feet so that they may not remain dependent upon others and get on with their lives on their own. Rather, they should ultimately become capable of extending a helping hand to others. To achieve this objective, in addition to spending zakah on the arrangement of food, shelter and clothes for these people, indispensable is it to set up educational and training institutes, libraries, publishing houses, and vocational training institutes where they and their children may learn some skills in order to earn livelihood for themselves and their families. A free medical dispensary may be opened to provide free medicines to these poor people. Maternity hospitals can also be constructed with the help of zakah where their women may get free medical treatment. Similarly, zakah can also be used to free them of their debt burden while alive or dead, and to perform the funeral rites of their dear departed. There is no doubt that in some of these cases the condition of exclusive personal possession will be fulfilled; but in others, it will not. However, poor people will benefit in all cases without any exception. One may understand this phenomenon as that instead of exclusive personal possession, there is collective possession of the entire poor community as they all are getting benefit from this fund. And we have already pointed out that the word "الايتاء" has been used in the Holy Qur'an in the sense of collective possession.
2. 'Amilin-i Zakah
The second head where zakah may be spent is 'A%milin-izakah (government officials). These people do not originally deserve zakah by virtue of their circumstances as do faqirs and muhtajs. This is only because of the work they have been entrusted with, that is, to help collect and spend zakah. Because of their work being indispensable, they have been mentioned second to the faqirs and muhtajs. These people include tahsil dar (collector), his registrar, and the troops that he has:
In the matter of zakah, the word 'A%milinincludes people as tahsil dar (collector), accountant, dispenser, labourer, treasurer, and manager.
A study of historical and Hadith narratives show that, many a time, this work used to be outsourced on a commission basis. When the time to collect zakah would come, further workforce would be hired to carry out this work. For the risk of digression, I avoid delving deeper in this discussion. The only thing I wanted to point out is that, in an Islamic government, all the government employees, of whatever rank or cadre, involved in the business of zakah in one way or other will be paid from the zakah fund. The accounts department, established to keep a record of this fund, will also be financed by this fund. Consequently, if the officials appointed to carry out these things can be paid from zakah, why cannot the expenses incurred on transportation, disbursement, and security arrangement of the zakah be met from this fund?
The answer to this question has to be in the affirmative. As an obvious corollary, the non-governmental religious institutions will also be right in spending from zakah on those whom they appoint for helping in the collection and the disbursement of zakah provided these institutions undertake this work in the absence of a proper Islamic government. Once they take up this task, they are legally authorized to meet all the incidental expenditures like staff salaries, maintaining proper books of accounts, travelling and conveyance, security, and other expenditures on any kind of propagation needed for this task. Thus this matter rests entirely upon their discretion.
3. Mu'allafah al-Qulub
The third head prescribed for spending zakah is mu'allafah al-qulub. Ibn Kathir has enlisted the following categories of people that come within the definition of mu'allafah al-qulub:
i. Non-Muslim leaders who are desired to convert to Islam.
ii. People who have just converted to Islam, about whom it is feared that they will revert and thus be harmful for Islam.
iii. Influential people who wield a significant influence over their companions, extending a hand of friendship towards those who can be helpful in winning their companions' hearts.
iv. Tribal chiefs that help the Islamic government in the collection of zakah from their respective regions and that help secure the borders of the Islamic country from the onslaught of the enemy troops.
According to Ibn Jawzi, the number of fresh converts to Islam and non-Muslims who were paid heavy amounts from zakah fund are recorded to be almost fifty in early Islamic history. The reason that they were awarded these grants was either to win their hearts completely in favour of Islam or to make them at least have a sympathetic attitude toward it. Some of these people have also been named by Imam Shawkani in Nayl al-Awtar, who were given one hundred camels each. We reproduce these names here so that it may be ascertained that what type of influential people and tribal chiefs were considered as falling within the definition of mu'allafah al-qulub worthy of being paid from the zakah fund.
The list goes:
i. Abu Sufyan Ibn Harab
ii. Safwan Ibn Umayyah
iii. 'Ayniyyah Ibn Hisan
iv. Iqra' Ibn Habis
v. 'Abbas Ibn Mirdas
vi. 'Alqamah Ibn 'Ilathah
Ibn Kathir has also mentioned the name of Zayd al-Khayr as one possible recipient of this favour from the Holy Prophet (sws). They who are well acquainted with the early history of Islam know, for sure, that most of these people embraced Islam after having seen the grandeur of Muslims. In other words, it was not the true message of Islam that appealed to them; they surrendered and accepted faith only because of the impregnable might of the Muslims. Safwan Ibn Umayyah continued to receive immense favours for quite a long time from the Holy Prophet (sws) in spite of his kufr. It is narrated about him that he said: "the Holy Prophet (sws) paid me after the battle of Hunayn when I could only find myself harbouring seething hatred against the Prophet (sws); however, the favours never ceased until the time came when I could only find myself feeling immense love for the Holy Prophet (sws)."
Having a cursory look at the names enlisted above and the objectives discussed, every person could make a judgment as to the nature of these grants. Of course, they were entirely of political nature. People who are politically important and wield a significant amount of influence over their friends and fellows should be won over in favour of the Islamic government. And even if they have entered the folds of Islam only superficially, they should further be attracted to Islam so that they may build up a strong faith.
According to the Hanafites, this head of account has been closed ever since the supremacy and absolute authority of Islam got established. However, this viewpoint is assailable for certain reasons, of which the explanation follows.
It is argued that Abu Bakr (rta) and 'Umar (rta) deprived certain tribal chiefs of the favours that were being showered over them in order to please them. This means that this head was only available as long as Islam was in the process of gaining supremacy. Once Islam attained it, this head was closed for good. I do not find myself in agreement with this conclusion although I concur with what Abu Bakr (rta) and 'Umar (rta) did. To my mind, their decision simply implies that steps may be taken to withhold certain benefits given to people of political importance once the Islamic state has been established on impregnable foundations and is no more in need of the crutches provided by these political figures. It is however wrong to construe that this head is closed once and for all after the establishment of the first Islamic government on strong footholds. Inasmuch as there was a need for the first Islamic state to spend under this head, it would be for the states to establish in the times to come.
If this head was closed at all after Islam acquired supremacy, it has got to be available again in this time of crisis when Islam and its followers are living a life of subjugation. Hardly can we find any Islamic state in the present age that needs not to please people of political significance, whether already in harmony with the state or at odds with it, to avert the possible opposition that can be harmful to the entire nation.
The truth of the matter is that any state, no matter how strong it has become, cannot be altogether independent of those political figures who wield enormous amount of influence over different pockets of people for one reason or another. The generous grants that flow from the USA and the USSR to other nations are not altruistic veritably. They intend to secure certain benefits for these countries and the ideology on which they are based. If the USA and the USSR could not help it, how can a true Islamic state, supposing it gets established in this age, avoid incurring some expenditure under this head? Yes, one point will definitely distinguish an Islamic state from other states. It will incur all expenditures for propagating the true religion and elevating the actual word of God as against these states that spearhead the fallacious religions and erroneous ideologies – sheer disbelief, to be more precise.
This is the correct stance on the issue at hand. It is indeed of great comfort to me that many scholars also concur in this stance. Abu 'Ubayd, while criticizing the viewpoint of the Hanafites, has penned the following comments in Kitab al-Amwal:
What Hasan and Ibn Shihab has said basically pertains to the matter at hand, that is to say, they opine that this head will remain available in all times to come. This is exactly what our viewpoint is. The reason is that this verse is a muhkam verse of the Holy Qur'an. As far as our knowledge goes, there is nothing in the Qur'an and Sunnah that abrogates this verse. An Islamic state that gives out grants to people, who are either inclined towards Islam because of some material benefits or who can be a potential threat to Islam because of their power and might when they revert to disbelief or launch armed offensives, actually meets a three pronged agenda. Firstly, it is the directive of the Holy Qur'an to make such grants. Secondly, an evident general benefit of the Muslim citizens is implied. Thirdly, there is a chance that if these people continue to remain within the folds of Islam, albeit ostensibly, they will someday understand its true message and embrace it from the depth of their heart.
This is exactly what the viewpoint of the author of Nayl al-Awtar is on this matter. He observes:
Apparently, the implication is that, if need be, a preacher can use material benefits as a means to lubricate his delivery of message to the audience. When an Islamic government finds itself in a situation where it faces people who crave for material benefits to flow to them from whoever they obey, and who are so powerful that the government finds no way to subdue them by force, it should try to win over their hearts using funds from this head. There can be no effect of the initial supremacy of Islam on this matter since it is evident in the above scenario, where an Islamic state [in the present age] is still in need to make such a payment. This shows that the initial supremacy had no consequent effect whatsoever.
Ibn Hazm also concurs in this viewpoint. He writes:
Some people proclaim that the expenditure under the head mu'allafah al-qulub is suspended now. And I opine that this is needed more now as ever before. Heads like mu'allafah al-qulub and 'amilincan only be suspended when each and every person takes up the responsibility to disburse zakah on his own. In this situation, the 'amilinwould obviously be missing, and the matter of mu'allafah al-qulub pertains to an Islamic state, that has nothing to do with the individual.
These explanations of the great Muslim scholars reveal that expenditure under the head of mu'allafah al-qulub is as imperative as it was ever before and can legally be made with impunity.
One further question arises after agreement on this conclusion. It was previously emphasized that in the absence of an Islamic state, religious institutions should take up the task of zakah collection and spending. Now the question arises whether these religious institutions can legally be allowed to incur any expenditure under the head mu'allafah al-qulub like an Islamic state does in order to achieve some political objectives? In my humble opinion, the answer to this question is in the negative. After all, it is a purely political expenditure. An Islamic state can only be the institution that can aptly decide the requirement of any expenditure to be incurred under this head. Non-governmental organizations should confine their operations to the heads that they have announced so far that they will incur expenditures there under. For these heads alone, public has shown confidence in these organizations that they can most appropriately expend the zakahgiven to them. Only some very obvious exceptions can be made to this policy matter for the non-governmental organizations. For instance, if Muslims of a certain region have come under the influence of disbelievers, and sheer disbelief is now spreading like an epidemic there, and if these organizations assess that by incurring some expenditure under the head of mu'allafah al-qulub they can prevent some Muslims from being used as vehicle for spreading disbelief or that this expenditure can be helpful in putting a check to the invasion of the disbelievers, they can proceed with this plan and use funds from zakah to spend under the head of mu'allafah al-qulub.
4. Fi al-riqab
Fi al-riqabmeans that zakah may be used to emancipate slaves. The problem of slavery is done away with now. However, it was prevalent at the time of the revelation of the Holy Qur'an. This is why fi al-riqab was mentioned as one possible head to help out the slaves so that they could live a free life. This was thus a humanitarian step that Islam took.
There is a difference of opinion whether this head pertains to all slaves or those slaves that are termed mukatib who enter into an agreement with their masters for their freedom in exchange for a certain amount of payment. According to the Hanafites and the Shafiites, this head relates only to the mukatib. Whereas Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hambal, Abu Thawr, Abu 'Ubayd and Imam Bukhari etc opine that this head pertains to both types of slaves. According to them, to use zakah in order to free a non-mukatib slave is not only permissible but also worthier than using zakah to free mukatib slave. On the other hand, the Hanafites and the Shafiites opine that some help may be extended to the slaves using zakah but they cannot be freed completely with the help of this fund.
I have reasons to believe that the viewpoint of Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad Ibn Hambal is more cogent and sound. Firstly, the viewpoint of the Hanafites and the Shafiites is again based primarily on the discussion of lam. But, granting this lam to denote tamlik (exclusive personal possession) for a moment, I still see no reason why this viewpoint has to be adopted. Because this lam is not interacting with fi al-riqab as there is another preposition fi that interacts with this one, and all the other heads that come after it. About this preposition, no one can ever claim that this denotes the sense of tamlik in the subtlest way possible. As pointed out earlier, this preposition conveys a sense of maslahat (benefit), mafad (interest) and bahbud (welfare), of which the evident implication is that zakah can be spent for the welfare of the slaves, and in order to free them regardless of whether tamlik is fulfilled or not. Secondly, supposing that the sense of tamlik is somehow deducible from the preposition fi, the serious question that arises is that why is tamlik considered absent in a case where we free a slave by paying his master the agreed price? Let me ask a question, "in buying a miskin a loaf of bread with zakah money, would tamlik be present or absent? If yes, then why, in God's name, would tamlik be absent if we buy a slave his freedom from his master? This is just an explanation to show that our viewpoint is correct even if we take fi as conveying a sense of tamlik. In our understanding, there is no room for this viewpoint in the first place because fi never denotes the sense of tamlik as far as its usage goes. What it does convey is the benefit, interest and welfare of the recipients as indicated before. This implies that zakah can legally be spent on any arrangement that aims at the benefit and welfare of the slaves. When a mukatib slave is in need of financial support to pay the agreed amount, he can be helped from the zakah fund. Similarly, a proactive initiative may be taken to buy freedom for the salves. I would even go to this extent to clarify that if the curse of slavery again haunts mankind because of some warfare, and some institutions are established to help free the slaves and work for their welfare and that of their children on a mass level, no one should feel loath to pay their zakah to them considering it an illegal expenditure.
Some people may find themselves a bit confused about the matter of proactively freeing the slaves because it involves a sort of intifa' (benefit) for the payer in that he would be acting as a legal representative of the slave, which is actually taking a benefit from the zakah of oneself. This is why proactive freeing of slaves should not be allowed, they may perceive. The first point to note is that this confusion does not arise when an Islamic state or a religious institution in the absence of an Islamic state, spends zakah to free a slave because in that case, the legal representation will be conferred upon the state or the institution, which is obviously not the original zakah payer. The second point is that intifa' of any kind from zakah is prohibited inasmuch as it is for self interest, if it is aimed at while paying zakah or charity. Where there is no such intention as to extract personal gains, and zakah is paid entirely for the purpose of discharging the duty, any benefit that incidentally accrue to the payer will not call into question the legitimacy of the act because he has not targeted this benefit and it has only accrued to him incidentally. For instance, the hajj of that pilgrim is definitely spoiled who sets off to Makkah primarily for sight seeing and not to perform the hajj but what about the pilgrim who leaves his homeland and goes to Makkah for the purpose of hajj originally but also visits places of historical importance? I see no reason why the hajj of the latter should be spoiled in spite of the other benefits that he has drawn from his visit to Makkah.
Zakahcan also be spent in helping out the people who fall within the definition of gharimin. This word encompasses all people who have come under the burden of debt because of the critical setback in their business or any other unfavourable circumstances that have caused unbearable loss to them or because he pledged some financial obligation to settle a dispute among Muslims which thereafter became impossible for him to discharge. Mankind has to face many adversities both caused by God and themselves. In all circumstances, when a community suffers a loss of major proportions in the form of loss of lives, cultivations, gardens, livestock, houses, or other assets, they should be helped with the funds of zakah under the head of gharimin.
The help extended toward these people is based on the presumption that they are actually the pillars of economy. Although they are presently in the whirlpool of crisis, once rescued, they will again contribute towards the improvement of the economy. For a flourishing economy, they are thus indispensable and should be given a helping hand in times of crisis. This means that their help is not based on the depression they are currently undergoing through. Their help is based on forward looking. Because if they were to be helped for being poverty stricken, they would not have been mentioned as a separate head for zakah as two heads were already covering them. This is why the assessment of their needs shall be based on a different parameter than that of the faqirs and miskins. To adduce this view of mine, I quote:
'Umar Ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz wrote to his governors that the debts of the gharimin should be repaid. He was informed by them thus: "The people you asked us to help include such people who own a house, and have servants, horses, good furniture and other assets in their houses. What should we do about them? Need we repay their debts as well?" 'Umar Ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz wrote them back: "A Muslim needs a house for his residence, and a servant for help in his work, and a horse for fighting the enemy, and furniture and other things are indispensable for household. This is why I call upon you to repay their debts."
Apparently, it seems that the governors of 'Umar Ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz thought that the gharimin can only be helped when they have disposed of all their assets and have reached the status of a faqir. As long as they possess some assets, it was illegitimate to provide any help from the funds of zakah in order to relieve them of their debt burden. The response of 'Umar Ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz made clear that the aim of this help is not only to redress the crisis they are facing but to support them to resume their function so that they could again become a healthy organ of the economy as they previously were. To assess their needs on the parameter of faqirs is therefore not appropriate. Their assessment is based on their prospective contribution to the economy in particular and society in general.
Likewise, 'Umar (rta) commanded his governors during his golden reign of justice:
With the funds of zakah, provide help to those people who have been left with only one horde of goat after the drought. No need to provide any support who have been left with two hordes.
In this narrative, the word ghanam has been used, which signifies a horde of goats consisting of almost one hundred goats. Obviously, one hundred goats are much above the poverty line whereby a person deserves help by virtue of his status as a faqir. He who has this number of goats is, on the contrary, held liable to pay zakah. But if famine or flood has struck his business and caused heavy losses to him by destroying his sheep and cattle, and he is left with a horde of one hundred, he should be given help from the funds of zakah under the head ofgharimin so that he could survive the losses and bring his business in a take off position again.
About the person who pledges some financial obligation to settle a dispute among the Muslims and thereafter finds it difficult to discharge as he pledged, there can be no question about providing help to him; we simply cannot wait that he should first reach the status of faqir before he deserves any help from the zakah fund. He is indeed one from among the gharmin in spite of his status as a well to do man because he is not able to discharge an obligation he took over to settle a dispute among the Muslims for which he needs some help to be provided from the zakah fund. Imam Shawkani writes:
Many a time, a conflict would only end, among the Arabs, that was primarily based on some financial dispute, like blood money etc, when a person from among them would rise and pledge that he, only for the sake of Allah, would pay off the requisite amount. This was one good deed from among the acts that people of high ethical standing were supposed to do. When people would come to know that someone has taken on such a pledge, they would vie each other to lend support to him in this noble cause. Such was the extent of this help that he would soon be relieved of this obligation that he pledged. He himself would not feel shy to ask people to provide help to him in this matter. This was not considered an act of disgrace but honour and pride, instead.7
One thing that needs to be assessed carefully, however, is that only that person will be considered a possible candidate for help under the head of gharimin who has suffered a loss because of some external reasons having nothing to do with his insatiable appetite for risk for excessive returns or his overspending upon luxurious living. Otherwise, no help should be provided at least from the funds of zakah in order to discourage such an attitude that leads to a wrong way of life.
6. Fi Sabilillah
This head has a very wide scope that includes all virtuous and good acts to which Allah and the Holy Prophet (sws) has guided us. In contrast to the term of fi sabilillah, fi sabil-i al-taghut is used, which has the contrary connotation, that is, all the evil system, based on falsehood, laid mischievously by Satan. Thus, when fi sabilillah is considered in contrast to the sabil of taghut, it becomes evident that sabil of Allah is the entire arrangement of divine guidance revealed for mankind in its collective capacity as well in its separate elements. Inasmuch as it is legitimate to spend zakah in order to protect the collective arrangement of this divine guidance, it is legally correct to spend zakah in order to safeguard a particular element of this divine guidance. No objection can be raised to either of these as both are fi sabilillah.
I present some examples from the Holy Qur'an regarding infaq (spending) and jihad bi al-mal (struggle with the help of wealth), which the Holy Qur'an includes within the definition of fi sabilillah, so that a firm understanding may be achieved as to what is included in this term.
وَأَنفِقُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ وَلاَ تُلْقُواْ بِأَيْدِيكُمْإِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ وَأَحْسِنُوَاْ إِنَّ اللّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ (195:2)
And spend in the way of Allah and do not expose yourself by your own hand to destruction. (2:195)
Here, the term fi sabilillah indicates jihad bi al-sayf (armed offensive) launched to protect and safeguard the Muslims and free the House of the Lord from the clutches of disbelievers.
مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِكَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنبَتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ (261:2)
The likeness of those who spend their wealth in Allah's way is as the likeness of a grain which grows seven ears. (2:261)
Here the term fi sabilillah means good deeds in general that include all kinds of virtuous and good acts.
الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ ثُمَّ لاَيُتْبِعُونَ مَا أَنفَقُواُ مَنًّا وَلاَ أَذًى (262:2)
Those who spend their wealth in way of Allah and thereafter make not reproach and injury to follow that which they have spent. (2:262)
In this verse, fi sabilillah means spending for the sake of faqirs, miskins and other deserving people.
لِلْفُقَرَاء الَّذِينَ أُحصِرُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ لاَيَسْتَطِيعُونَ ضَرْبًا فِي الأَرْضِ (273:2)
[Zakahis] for the poor who are straitened for the cause of Allah, and who cannot travel in the land for trade. (2:273)
The context of this verse reveals that fi sabilillah here means religion and the religious sciences.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ لِيَصُدُّواْعَن سَبِيلِ اللّه (36:8)
Lo! those who disbelieve spend their wealth in order that they may debar men from the way of Allah. (8:36)
Here it is evident that sabil implies the religion of Islam in its entirety.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَهَاجَرُواْ وَجَاهَدُواْبِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ (72:8)
Lo! those who believed and left their homes and strove with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah. (8:72)
Evident is the implication of fi sabilillah and jihad fi sabilillah in this verse as being the struggle to provide strong footings to the religion of Islam. Similarly, a tradition has been narrated by Abu Da'ud that tells us that hajj is also included in fi sabilillah.
Consequently, it is clear now that fi sabilillah encompasses all virtuous acts and good deeds. However, when this term is spoken alone, it may indicate a specific deed provided the occasion of speech restricts the meaning to this deed only. No doubt that this term may also mean the religion of Islam in its entirety for the wide scope that it covers provided the occasion of speech gives an indication of such meaning. Likewise, when this term is uttered after a mention of a good list of certain obvious virtuous deeds, the implication is that this term indicates all the remaining good deeds described by the religion which did not find mention in words. In all the points that I have maintained, a good number of Muslim academics concur as well.
The following note may be found in Tafsir Kabir:
The apparent meaning of fi sabilillah does not make it imperative to confine it to the mujahidin alone. This is why Qaffal has narrated in his exegesis about certain jurists that zakah can be spent on all good deeds like funeral rites of the poor, construction of castles, and construction of mosques etc for the scope of fi sabilillah includes all these deeds and many others.
Ibn Hazm has explained the term fi sabilillah as follows:
We say "yes" whatever deed is good is included in the implication of fi sabilillah.
The famous salafi scholar of the present age, Rashid Rada, explains fi sabilillah in the following words:
Fi sabilillahcomprises everything, religious in nature and/or beneficial for people, on which the edifice of religion and the state is dependent. However, the primary and foremost importance is that of the expenditure incurred on the preparation for war by acquiring arsenal, providing food for the troops, making arrangements for transportation, and equipping them with requisite ammunition. A similar viewpoint is also attributed to Muhammad Ibn Hakam.
After having a look on all these statements, one should have a clear view that the head of fi sabilillah is very wide in its scope. It encompasses all good deeds and virtuous acts. Nothing good in nature prescribed by Islam eludes this term! It is an unfathomable ocean that contains all types of goodness and righteousness. No question of tamlik arises from any angle whatsoever insofar as this head is under discussion. Firstly, there is nothing here that may be adduced to support the so-called tamlik viewpoint. When all is said and done, there is only lam that one may resort to. What we find here is that instead of lam, fi precedes fi sabilillah, a preposition entirely devoid of the sense of tamlik in the slightest manner possible. Secondly, after accepting that all good deeds are contained in fi sabilillah, as pointed out by great Muslim scholars, it is simply not possible to fulfil the requirement of tamlik in all these forms in which a good deed is done. However, if the condition of tamlik were to be fulfilled in a collective form, this could have been done in all these cases. To this, neither would we have disagreed. Rather, I would say to the dissidents who still do not agree with our viewpoint that any good deed that they think should be done but they leave it only because tamlik cannot be fulfilled, they should bring it under the head of fi sabilillah since there is no objection as to the propriety of any deed of general goodness coming under this head.
7. Ibn al-Sabil
By ibn al-sabil is meant a traveller. Travelling and need for help go hand in hand. As long as a traveller treks his path, he is always in need of help. This is true for people of all classes. Even a man who is considered affluent in his own community as sets off on a journey may not be in a position to fulfil all his needs by his own. Only a select few members of the elite class can afford to have all their needs met without any trouble no matter where they go; they stay in five star hotels, travel in state-of-the-art vehicles, and call upon doctors to come to their place to check them whenever they fall ill no matter where in the world they are. A common man when leaves his home for a far away destination, albeit not a poor person by definition, cannot dare to have his needs met from his own pocket despite his wishes. Of necessity, he would look for some place to spend his night over there, and he would need to go to a free medical dispensary to get medical treatment if he falls ill, and he would try to travel on a subsidized transportation if he finds one because if he does not proceed with his travelling as described, he cannot reach his destination because of his constrained means. This is why the shari'ah has directed us to spend zakah for his sake in order to make his travelling as much comfortable as possible in spite of the fact that he is not poor by definition. Ibn Kathir has quoted a tradition from Abu Da'ud:
The Holy Prophet (sws) said that no rich man is permitted to receive help from zakah except in three situations. The first is when they are in the way of Allah, or travelling, or they are given a gift or invited to a meal by a poor neighbour who arranges both things from the zakah received by him.
This is why it does not seem appropriate that only the travellers that are short of ticket money or whose conveyance has broken down should be considered deserving of help from zakah funds. Quite conversely, the correct view is that all Muslims deserve help during travelling. Rather, since exclusive personal possession is not a mandatory requirement to fulfil, the befitting way to provide help to the travellers is to construct inns, resting places and other facilities at such points in cities and towns where people have to stay for a while during their journey for one reason or another in addition to setting up an information desk where the queries of the travellers may be addressed appropriately; a system for postal service, telegraph and medical treatment may also be set up. I also find it imperative to emphasize that inasmuch as there is a need to provide for such facilities in Makkah, Madinah, Mina and Jaddah, there is need to configure an arrangement for the same in places like Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and other cities. Is it not a harsh reality that whenever we travel we have to go through unbearable troubles to find anything, no matter how petty, that we are in need of and sometimes our efforts go entirely in vain? Quite sadly, there is no institution in our cities that could attend to the needs of the travellers responsibly.
Abu 'Ubayd has attributed a saying to Anas Ibn Malik and Hasan Basri which explains that amount spent on the construction of facilities for the travellers is a valid payment of zakah. It is possible that these two great scholars included this payment under the head of fi sabilillah. But it is equally possible that they might have considered it as coming under the head of ibn al-sabil.
(Translated from Islahi's Tawdihat by Jhangeer Hanif)