Fatwa from The Fatwa Council of Tareem

TareemThe Fatwa Council of Tareem is located in Hadramaut, Yemen. Hadramaut has been a major center for scholarship for over a millennium and has produced many of the world’s leading Shāfiʿī scholars.

The Council’s fatwa is the most thorough fatwa received to date. It is the only one to flesh out details related to how UNHCR should collect and distribute zakat and to support its contents by citing legal references. The fatwa begins by asserting that zakat must be given to the categories mentioned in Quran 9:60, and that non-Muslims are not eligible recipients of zakat.

The fatwa then clarified that zakat is distributed by the regional Muslim authorities or their representative, the individual responsible for the property subject to zakat, or that individual’s agent. An organization that distributes zakat it is considered a type of agency and is subject to conditions that apply to agents. A principal who has a non-Muslim agent must identify the recipient for the zakat, make an intention that it be given to that recipient, and know that the intended recipient was eligible when taking possession of the zakat. These conditions are not required when using a Muslim agent. Therefore, the Council recommends that UNHCR appoint Muslims for receiving and distributing zakat. These additional conditions are not required for other stages of the operation.

The fatwa then states that UNHCR cannot use any of the zakat funds to cover its operating expenses or wages, as the category of zakat collectors is limited to workers who have been appointed by Muslim authorities. Even then, it is only for appointed collectors and distributors who are Muslim, morally upright, and knowledgeable in zakat laws. Thus, neither the agency nor its zakat collectors are entitled to take a portion of their intake. Instead, operating expenses and wages must be covered by other sources of funding or by volunteering.

The fatwa closes with pointing out that there is a variance amongst scholars whether zakat funds must be distributed locally or can be sent to other regions.

Fatwa - Tareem