Tamlik, the Transfer of Zakat Ownership

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is with regards tamlik, transfer of ownership, pertaining to zakat.  The majority of fuqaha’ agree that, even in the fixed eight aswnaf, the condition for a valid payment of zakat is that someone deserving should be given possession of the zakat as its owner.  The following is ijma’.

If money was spent for the benefit of these very people without having given them possession of it, that zakat is considered to still be unpaid.  It is for this reason the four a’immah al-madzahib and the majority of the fuqaha’ agree that it is impermissible to spend zakat funds either on the construction of masajid, madaris, hospitals, orphanages, or any infrastructure related to them.  While there is no doubt that the benefit of such projects does reach the zakat recipients, the fact that the zakat has not passed on into their possession as owners makes zakat invalid.

However, in orphanages where meals and clothes are given to orphans as being owned by them, then, it is possible to spend zakat funds to the extent of this specific expenditure.  In such a case, the orphans fall under one of the eight aswnaf since being an orphan is not one of them.  Similarly, the cost of the medicine supplied to the poor, in their possession, could be charged to the zakat fund.  On the other hand, the coffin of an heirless deceased cannot be provided from zakat, because the deceased is not capable of taking possession of anything.  It is possible, however, that zakat is given to an eligible recipient and he, out of his free will, spends this amount on the coffin of the heirless deceased.  In the same manner, if this deceased is in debt, this debt cannot be paid off from zakat directly.


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