Dar al-Ifta al-Missriyyah
Dar al-Ifta al-Missriyyah is one of Egypt’s centers for Islamic legal research. It was established in 1895 CE and is considered one of the earliest modern fatwa producing institutes. Dar al-Ifta’s fatwa begins by covering several preparatory issues – giving definitions, arguments for various opinions, and their preferences. During the preparatory points, Dar al-Ifta affirms their preferences that it is permissible to transport Zakat to another land and to give Zakat to a single individual. They observe that Islamic law sometimes makes distinctions between natural persons and legal persons. They argue that UNHCR is a legal person and that the opinions that place additional restrictions on distributing Zakat through non-Muslims apply to natural persons – not legal persons. Dar al-Ifta considers it permissible to give Zakat to refugees provided that they fall within one of the eight categories. Dar al-Ifta concludes that it is permissible for an individual to appoint UNHCR as his/ her agent for distributing and delivering Zakat to refugees and displaced persons – provided that the recipients fulfill the necessary conditions. UNHCR cannot take any portion of the Zakat in exchange for the services they provide. Additionally, safeguards must be put in place to ensure that UNHCR complies with all of the above.
The Senior Scholars’ Council of Morocco
The Senior Scholars’ Council of Morocco is the highest official religious authority in Morocco, which includes a fatwa council. Their fatwa mentions the basic obligations related to giving Zakat to particular individuals similar to what was mentioned in the other fatwas. It mentions that the default is that the person owing Zakat distribute it personally and that it be distributed to eligible recipients in its locality. It then mentions that it is permissible to distribute it through an intermediary, and that it is permitted to send the Zakat to another locale – especially when that other locale has greater need. Their conclusion was that the refugees are eligible for Zakat, and that it is permissible to distribute one’s Zakat to them through UNHCR.
The Fatwa Council of Tareem
The 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 begins by asserting that Zakat must be given to the categories mentioned in Quran 9:60. The fatwa states that UNHCR cannot use any of the Zakat funds to cover its operating expenses or wages. 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.
Dr Sheikh Ali Gomaa
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 senior scholars council.8 In his fatwa, Sheikh Ali states it is permissible according to Islamic law for non-Muslims to distribute Zakat to its eligible recipients. They are not themselves considered as eligible to receive Zakat under the category of Zakat workers that is mentioned in Quran 9:60, so their wages and other operational costs must come from outside the Zakat funds.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayya
Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayya is the chairman of the UAE’s Fatwa Council, and an instructor at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah. He was the deputy head of the Union of Muslim Scholars. Before this, he served as a judge at the High Court of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and was the Head of Shariah Affairs at its Ministry of Justice. He currently serves as the president of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies. In his fatwa, Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah states that UNHCR would be considered the agent for the individuals donating their Zakat.