Thursday, November 23, 2017 - 4 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439

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Home » Fatwas » Worship » Zakat

Taking a percentage from the money of charity donors as a salary

I work as the director of a charity organization and receive a salary of 800 dinars. Now the administration wants to change its agreement with me, and instead of giving me a salary, it wants to give me a percentage of the money that I collect from donors. Is this permissible from a religious point of view? Is it permissible to use some of this money for some administrative expenses such as for the rent of the organization’s premises, coffee, tea and food for the family of a deceased person such as the son of the organization`s vice president?

Answer

The channels of zakat are defined in the chapter of Al-Tawbah where God the Almighty says: “Zakat expenditures are only for the poor, for the needy, for those employed to collect [zakat], and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam), and for freeing captives [or slaves], and for those in debt, and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler---an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise” [9: 60].

The workers “employed to collect zakat” mentioned in the verse are those who are authorized by the state to collect and distribute zakat if they do not receive a salary from the state for this task. They cannot take from the zakat funds except for their salary which must be authorized by the state. Otherwise, any money they take is unlawful.

Charities act as agents for the donors. The donations are deposited in banks according to the donors’ terms. The charities are not allowed to take anything from the zakat funds because they are not workers employed to collect zakat but rather volunteers. Imam Al-Nawawi (may God have mercy on him) said in Al-Majmu’: "Imam Al-Shafi'i and scholars (may God have mercy on them) said, ‘If the one who distributes zakat is himself the payer or his agent, then he is not considered a worker, and the money must be distributed to the other seven categories defined in the verse or to any existing one of them."

If the donors did not define one or more recipients of the donations, then zakat is treated like waqf [an endowment] and its funds are managed with care and according to needs and benefits. Imam Shurbini (may God have mercy on him) said in Mughni Al-Muhtaj: “The administrator has no right to dispose of the funds except for a need; he must be cautious because he is in charge of the well-being of others — he is thus similar to a custodian of orphans.”

Accordingly, it is not permissible for the manager to take a percentage of the collected funds because the money is donated to charity. It is permissible for him to receive a determined salary in accordance with the regulations of charity organizations and not from the zakat funds. It is not permissible for charity organizations to take anything from the zakat money they collect. They can neither pay for salaries nor for any other expenses such as for constructing an office for the organization, buying tea and coffee or the like.

The organization can, however, use money from donations other than for zakat with the permission of the donors. It is not permissible to buy food for the family of the deceased relatives of officials. This is considered consuming the property of others unjustly and unlawfully and the money must therefore be returned. The organization’s administrators must act for the common benefit and in the best interests of the donors, the poor and the needy. They must be mindful of God as they will be asked about these donations and how they were spent. God the Almighty says: “And stop them; indeed, they are to be questioned" [37:24].
And God the Almighty knows best.
 

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