Several scholars, including Sheikh Ahmad Kutty and Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, agree that CAIR-CA’s work is zakat-eligible because it collectively advances the services that are provided to the community, fi Sabilillah. However, there are other scholars with a more restrictive definition of zakat eligibility. To accommodate the vast range of religious opinions on this matter, CAIR-CA adheres to specific guidelines to ensure the strictest allocation of zakat funds.

Donors may designate their zakat funds to be allocated towards a specific area of work (e.g., Civic Engagement, Legal Services, and Youth Empowerment). Where a donor does not restrict their zakat donation, CAIR-CA will allocate those funds to programs and services which directly help protect the rights of Muslims. They will be allocated as follows:

  • Funds will be allocated to the Legal Department (Civil Rights & Immigration) and the Policy, Advocacy, Government Relations work. This consists of all expenses related to the departments (i.e., program costs, communications, salaries, benefits, management, etc.)
    • Justification:
      • Legal work provides direct services and programs to the community, especially for those with no financial means to receive it otherwise.
      • Policy, Advocacy, Government Relations work leads to the creation of laws that protect the rights of Muslims to freely practice their religion in America.
  • Funds will not be allocated toward:
    • Fundraising expenses (i.e. banquets, direct mail, etc.)
    • Administrative expenses (i.e. office rent, utilities, etc.)
  • Funds received between January 1st to December 31st will be allocated in the same year.

Islamic scholar Sheikh Ahmad Kutty a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

“I think it is not only permissible, rather it is also imperative that we do give our zakah to organizations like CAIR and CAIR-CAN, since they are fulfilling a most timely and essential service for the healthy survival of the community. Supporting such institutions clearly falls under the legitimate objectives of zakah as expounded by authentic scholars and jurists of Islam, both of the past and the present.

The categories of recipients of zakah are stated in the following verse: “Charities are (meant) only for the poor and the needy, and those who are charged with collecting them, and those whose hearts are to be won over, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage, and (for) those who are overburdened with debts, and (for those who strive) in Allah’s cause (fi sabili-llah), and (for) the way-farer: (this is) an ordinance from Allah””and Allah is All-Knowing and All-Wise” (At-Tawbah: 60).

As is clear from the above verse, one of the categories is fi sabili-llah. ”¦ among the commentators of the Qur’an (mufassirun) as well as the jurists (fuqaha’), who have used the term fi sabili-llah in a far wider sense, thus extending it to include all beneficial works and projects that are of common benefit to the Ummah. They have thus included in this category such services as funeral arrangements, building and taking care of schools and mosques, establishing hospitals, building bridges, etc. In short, they definitely include institutions that provide educational or social services under this category and thus eligible to receive funds from zakah.

A principle of jurisprudence states: if a thing which has been considered as obligatory cannot be fulfilled without fulfilling another, then fulfilling the latter also becomes obligatory. Thus since protecting the rights of Muslims and empowering Muslims cannot be achieved without such institutions, it is imperative that Muslims support and maintain such institutions.

Muslims should have no hesitation in giving part of their Zakah to CAIR, which is providing a most timely and essential service for the cause of Islam and Muslims. They both have a reputation for professionalism, efficiency, commitment, and integrity, which in my mind are the most valuable assets of any Islamic organization worthy of the name.

May Allah give us all the honor of serving His cause efficiently and professionally, and may He also accept our humble efforts in His cause. Ameen.”

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty is a well known Islamic Scholar, a regular commentator on Islamic issues and makes fatwas on issues of importance to Muslims.

Shiekh Ahmad Kutty’s Biography: Born in Kerala State, India (1946) Nationality: Canadian

The Qur’an says about the expenditure of Zakat funds:

“Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.” (Al-Tawbah 9:60)

Thus there are eight areas mentioned where Zakat money can be used:

The poor, the needy, those employed for zakat collection, those whose hearts are to be reconciled to Islam, those who want to free the slaves, debtors, those in the path of Allah, and travelers (rendered helpless).

CAIR is a well-known Muslim organization in America. Its mission statement says that its purpose is “to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.” CAIR has been working for many years with this mission. It is dedicated to serve the cause of Islam and defend the rights of Muslim Americans. Therefore, its work comes in the category of ‘fi sabil Allah’ or the Path of Allah. This is a Qur’anic term that primarily means ‘the struggle to defend Islam and Muslims.’

As a dedicated organization to defend the rights of Muslims and to promote better understanding of Islam, CAIR is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. We urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. We pray that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala continues to guide its workers to carry on CAIR’s mission with sincerity, patience, and prudence.

Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi
Fiqh Council of North America