Dr. Sheikh Ali Gomaa is the former Grand Mufti of the Arab Republic of Egypt and professor of Islamic jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University. He is currently a member of Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars.
As his fatwa is concise, we decided to put the full text as follows:
“We would like to let you know that it is allowed in the Shari’ah to have non-Muslims distribute Zakat provided that they are not considered as those employed to collect Zakat who are entitled to receive salaries from Zakat (Al ‘Amileen ‘Aleyha) and that they do not take any compensation from Zakat to distribute these funds. If it is necessary to take a salary or a fee, then this will be taken from another source than Zakat. And Allah Almighty is Higher and knows more.”
UNHCR is a non-religious organization. It includes people from all beliefs. The fatwa stresses that being Muslim is not a condition to be a legitimate agent of Zakat. It is therefore allowed for UNHCR to be an agent for collecting and distributing Zakat. However Zakat cannot be used to pay salaries. That is why UNHCR has a strict 100% Zakat distribution policy, whereby all Zakat collected is distributed to beneficiaries. Salaries and other overhead costs are covered by other sources, as requested by the fatwa.