Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
It is not permissible to spend Zakah money on iftar tables in Ramadan because this money has its specific channels, first of which is giving it to the poor and the needy. But both the rich and the poor sit at these iftar tables, so the Muslim should spend on these tables from charity money, not from Zakah money.
In responding to your question, Dr. Ahmad Yusuf Sulaiman, Professor of Shariah at the Faculty of Darul al-Ulum, Cairo University, states:
There are various ways of charity other than Zakah, which Allah Almighty summarizes in this verse,
“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the Prophets; and give his wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observe proper worship and pay the poor due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the God-fearing.” (Al-Baqarah 2:177)
In addition, Allah Almighty praises the people who “give food, in spite of their love for it (or for the love of Him), to the poor, the orphan, and the captive” (Al-Insan 76:8)
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also mentioned that among the best acts of a Muslim is that he feeds people, spreads greetings, and performs prayer at night while people are asleep.
This applies to Ramadan or any other month, but the reward of charity and providing iftar to fasting people in Ramadan is multiplied, as the reward of good deeds is greatly multiplied in Ramadan.
Prophet Muhammad said, “Whoever offers the fasting person iftar shall receive the same reward without diminishing his (the fasting person’s) reward at all” (At-Tirmidhi)
The Prophet said, “Angels remain praying for the fasting person when people come and eat iftar at his house until they finish,” or perhaps he said, “… until they are full” (At-Tirmidhi)
It is also taken after the Prophet to say an invocation to the giver of food, as he said after eating an iftar meal of bread and oil at Sad ibn Muadh’s house, “May fasting people eat iftar at your house; may pious people eat your food; and may angels pray for you” (Abu Dawud)
The preparation of iftar tables, which people in countries like Egypt call “Mawa’id Ar-Rahman” (Meals of the Compassionate, which are meals prepared by the rich in streets for fasting people), should be from charity and donations.
It is impermissible to spend Zakah money on them because the channels of Zakah are specified in this verse, “The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free the captives and the debtors, and for the cause of Allah, and (for) the wayfarers.” (At-Tawbah 9:60)
Zakah is considered a right for the poor, the needy, and others. But food is given to the needy as well as to others. We have explained that there is money to be paid other than Zakah, and the preparation of iftar tables should be from this money.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.