A heated cultural and religious debate endures in the Muslim world around the question of whether Islamic theology allows for giving religious philanthropy to non-Muslims, as individuals or nonprofit organizations. The debate pertains especially to the practice of zakat, which considered to be a religious practice of giving to Muslim compatriots. Yet in the context of contemporary times, with a global pandemic and growing interactions between Muslims and non-Muslim, the exclusivity of giving zakat to Muslim beneficiaries is being questioned in theological debates and in practice. Muftis are central in shaping the contours of this debate, since a growing number of fatwas (juristic decrees) are addressing the issue at stake. This calls for a focus on Muftis’ attitudes towards giving zakat to non-Muslims through content analysis of fatwas. Our analysis reveals that Muftis in Arab countries tend to allow giving zakat only to non-Muslims residing in the same country. Muftis in non-Arab countries, as well as those who engage in preaching Islam to an English-speaking audience, tend to allow giving zakat to non-Muslims who live in non-Muslim countries. However, some Muftis in both Arab and non-Arab countries have conditioned that non-Muslim recipients of zakat must belong to the category of zakat recipients of Al-Muallafatu Qulūbuhum “those whose hearts are inclined towards Islam”. Discussion on the implications of these findings is offered.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 Marwan Abu-Ghazaleh Mahajneh, Itay Greenspan, and Muhammad M. Haj-Yahia.
- Al-Muallafatu Qulūbuhum
- Zakat to non-Muslims