Q. I have already disbursed my zakah for this year. However, there is a situation where someone needs help and I was wondering if I could give him some money, and deduct it from next year's zakah distribution. Is this permissible?

Also, can Muslims accept money from non-Muslims for the construction of an Islamic school?

A. The rule in Islam is that "necessity brings permissibility." Assuming that your income is steady, and you can reasonably predict your amount of zakatable income for the next fiscal year, then certainly there is no problem if you advanced the amount.

Regarding money from non-Muslims, it is acceptable for several reasons, and not necessarily restricted to those mentioned here, or in that order.

  1. The Muslims benefit.
  2. The school is for the public good, and good deeds are not restricted to Muslims only.
  3. The Islamic school cannot be restricted to Muslims only, and it creates more community interest when the non-Muslims partake.
  4. It creates a bridge of communication between Muslims and non-Muslims.
  5. In a so-called Islamic state, the jizya (tax) taken from them would be spent on the public good, which includes schools. Therefore, the issue is not one of the source of the money as far as Islam and non-Islam are concerned.

The only problem would be when a non-Muslim wants to place conditions on his/her donation, and on close scrutiny of these conditions, they appear to be detrimental to Muslim interests. And Allah knows best.

Posted March 9, 1999