Charitable Organizations & Interest (Live Fatwa)

Questions and Answers of a Live Fatwa Session with Dr. Monzer Kahf
MK - Foto

On Monday, July 16, 2012, we managed to run a successful e-mail based Live Fatwa session on “Charitable Organizations & Interest” with Dr. Monzer Kahf—the prominent Muslim economist and counselor.

Interestingly, users reacted positively and sent their questions via the Fatwa section’s e-mail address in and ahead of the session’s time. The honorable guest, Dr. Monzer Kahf answered all the questions.

Below you can review all questions and Dr. Kahf’s replies:


Question 1:

Farooque PP

Charitable Organization

Dear Sir, as-salamu `alaykum. I hereby request you to give me your opinion regarding the following.

We are living in Dubai and we have set up a charitable organization in our country in India to help the poor. This is a trust and it collects the funds from its members in UAE as well as in India and with those funds, we used to help poor people for their living aid, medicines ,educational scholarships etc. and also we build houses for the poor and recently set up a Dialysis unit for the kidney patients. This dialysis unit is a subsidized one which is not a profitable institution. We will charge very nominal charges from those who are able to pay and are giving free to those who could not afford to pay. My question is:

1) Is it permissible for us to accept the interest income which the people are getting against their fixed deposits from the banks, for the above charitable things.

2) Is it permissible for us to accept the Zakah for this trust as we are helping non-Muslims also? (Majority of our beneficiaries are Muslims at the same time, we are not denying any deserved non-Muslims.)

Your immediate response will be highly appreciated. Thanks and regards, Farooque PP.


Dear Br.

In a quick word, yes it is permissible to accept interest because you are distributing it to the poor and needy, Muslims and non-Muslims.

The details is that this money is Haran for those who got it because it is Riba, it is wrong to return to payers because they are professional Riba dealers (conventional banks), it is then treated as property who has no owner which then must be given to the poor and needy rather than wasted.

Details given in your question raise a few points: 1) Zakah payment requires that it must be made owned by the poor, this applies to direct giving in cash or in kind such as medicine and housing. But in education, payment must be given to the poor and once they own the money they may pay it for education or other needs, you cannot give it to teachers (unless you are giving it to them because they are themselves poor) for teaching students or other needs of educational institutions. 2) in India especially Zakah must only be given to Muslims as this is the general rule and Muslim poor in India are usually poorer. I do not say that you stop helping the non-Muslims but I suggest that your accounting system must watch assigning all Zakah collected to Muslims only through implementing the principle of Tamlik (making them own what is given) and give to non-Muslims from other sources such as interest.

Allah Almighty knows best.


Question 2:

Khaled Sultan

Jazakum Allah khair.

One follow up question regarding when I donate the compensation generated from questionable trades to Muslim organizations: am I able to acquire a donation receipt to lower the taxes I owe at the end of the year when I make the donation? Thank you, Khaled.


Dear Br. Khaled,

Yes of course. This is a privilege given by the tax system and you are definitely a desiring user of it. It has no Shari`ah implication at all.

Allah Almighty knows best.


Question 3:

Azra Khan

Husband and Wife Inheritance

Salam Dr. Kahf. Please, explain why a husband gets 1/4 from his wife's will and the wife only gets 1/8 from her husband's will? Jazak Allah Khair. Azra Khan.


Dear Sr. Azra

The exact answer is because Allah said so in the Qur’an (4: 11 and 12), just this is the law.

The explanation is: because essentially man ble for expense on females around him, mother, daughter and wife and also sister unless she is rich on her own or married that her husband takes that charge.

Besides, at marriage he has to her an obligatory gift (mahr) and remember mahr is not necessarily symbolic, the mahr of the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) was his 8 years savings, as mentioned in the Qur’an and the mahr of the Prophets (peace be upon them all) was about the earning of a laborer for more than a year. If we are in America, you could say about 50,000 US$.

The woman is not required to spend on any other person than herself if she has no son, husband or father.

Allah Almighty knows best.


Question 4:

Emaan – 33 – Female – India

Promise to Allah – Scholarship

Asalamu `alaykum. I'm a single woman. Last year I had applied for a government scholarship to study in the UK. This scholarship was generous and would have included air fare, visa costs etc. I made a promise to Allah that I would give 100,000 rupees in charity if I got it. But I did not get it. Then I applied for funding in the USA and got a funding for study this year. I have to pay for airfare and visa myself. I will not be able to save much over the next 5 years. I have about 12, 00,000 rupees in savings. I did not make a promise for the US- but am worried that maybe I should still pay the 100,000 along with my zakat this year. What should I do? My mother is also helping me financially to pay for tickets etc as my father is deceased.


Dear Sr. Emaan,

As for the pledge (Nathr) you made it is gone with the Scholarship to UK. You are not required to fulfill it. the door is open for any charity you can make, the more you give the more Allah gives you, angels come down every day to pray to Allah “Our Lord, give the giver recompenses, and give the withholders destruction” as we are told by the Prophet(pbuh).

Allah Almighty knows best.


Question 5:

Tayyab – 23 – Male - Pakistan

Teaching Economics of Interest

I would like to know whether it is allowed to teach economics, or banking in which interest and capitalist form is promoted. Secondly, please advise on what career I can pursue with the degree of economics.


Dear Br. Tayyab,

You can pursue a carrier like mine: Islamic economics and finance, it is great. Of course teaching and studying interest are not Haram and do not a promoter of it rather be a critique.

Allah Almighty knows best.


Question 6:

Ahmed Zamakda

Air-Conditioner Bought Illegally

I am in a university in Malaysia. The UNI I am at has a rule that if you buy an air-conditioner illegally (without permission from the school) and the school finds out- we shall have to pay a heavy fine. The school can provide you with an air-conditioner but every month we are told to pay $50 which is a lot... So because of this, I bought an air-conditioner illegally. Now the thing is that I am being charged with an electricity bill for every month okay. The hostel department checks the rooms to see who has air-conditioners to check if it’s legal or illegal. So in order to save myself from being caught from paying a hefty fine- there is an employee in the hostel department who can make my air-conditioner legal and I have to pay a certain amount and the air-conditioner shall be legal- does this involve corruption in Islam? What I am doing is wrong in Islam? If it’s wrong what should I do? Jazak Allah.


Dear Br. Ahmed,

Yes it is definitely wrong, you are required to follow the rules, protest them if they are not fair but you cannot decide on your own to escape them. it is a worse wrong if you bribe that employee there.

Just sell the privately owned air conditioner and either take one from the U or go to other housing facilities.

Allah Almighty knows best.


Question 7:

Abdullah - Male - 41 - Syria

Sell Handmade Items on Internet

I sell handmade items on the internet. There is an American website that requires that the seller should be the maker of the items being sold. However, I don’t make these items. Am I obliged to adhere to the conditions of this company? The reason I’m asking is that: I live in Syria, and I –as all Syrians- consider the US a direct enemy which is probably as fierce as Israel. Do we, Syrians, have to adhere to the conditions of American companies when they are pausing unfair sanctions on us that are making our lives much more difficult, and the American government is working very hard on destroying our country and leading it into a devastating civil war?


Dear Br. Ahmed,

I am Syrian like you. The American people are not our enemy, the American government is siding with Israel, this makes it an enemy to all Arabs and Muslims. But this does not give you an excuse to steel from any American individual.

Besides, who is destroying our land an economy and steeling ever resource we have, is it America or the Asad regime and family and his sisters and nephews?

Allah Almighty knows best.


Question 8:

Matiullah Amanzai

Giving Property to One's Children

If someone gives a part of his money or property to his small children to save it for their future, even if the property is still in one of the parents’ custody, does he still have to pay Zakah for this money if this part does not reach nisab when separated from the rest? To what extent are parents allowed to make use of this money?


Dear Br. Amanzai,

You can give anything to your children and each person is considered on his/her own independently in regard to Zakah and nisab. If the amount of property of a child is equal or more to nisab the parent/custodian/guardian is required to pay the due Zakah on that money. Amounts below nisab are not subject to Zakah.

Giving to children in order to avoid Zakah does not make any effect. It is a matter of intention and Zakah is with Allah anyway. You cannot cheat Him because He knows the inside intention.

Only you give a property, you are then a custodian on it, you have to invest it to the best and you cannot use it for yourself on course unless in case of necessities then you can revoke the giving.

Allah Almighty knows best.

The editor of OnIslam Live Fatwa service.

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