Can We Pay Zakah Early to Help People Affected by Coronavirus?

29 March, 2020
Q The safety precautions to curb Coronavirus forced some workers not to go out to earn their daily living. Is it permissible to give the obligatory zakah in advance to help those workers or poor families which depend on donations?


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 permissible to pay zakah in advance to help workers or poor families affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Answering your question about paying zakah to help workers or poor families influenced by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Dr. Jasser Auda, Professor and Al-Shatibi Chair of Maqasid Studies at the International Peace College South Africa, states:

Of course, giving zakah to people in need is one of the objectives of Zakah. People in need are not only poor people in the sense of not having something to eat but also people in debt.

Allah says in the Quran what means:

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah . And Allah is Knowing and Wise. (At-Tawbah 9:60)

Allah mentioned in the verse Al-gharmeen (those who are in debt). Those who lose their jobs or are influenced by the coronavirus situation are similar to those who are in debt. This is because they will need help to in order to sustain themselves and their families.

Other than the debt article of the zakah, there is also the general article of fi sabil Allah (in the way of Allah).

If you assess that there is any category that you can help in the way of Allah in the sense of helping them out of their difficulty, then this is also part of the obligatory zakah.

It is recommended in that sense to bring out the obligatory zakah even earlier that its time in order to help the workers or poor families influenced by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

We ask Almighty Allah to alleviate the difficulty soon.

Almighty Allah knows best.

About Dr. Jasser Auda
Jasser Auda is a Professor and Al-Shatibi Chair of Maqasid Studies at the International Peace College South Africa, the Executive Director of the Maqasid Institute, a global think tank based in London, and a Visiting Professor of Islamic Law at Carleton University in Canada. He is a Founding and Board Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, Fellow of the Islamic Fiqh Academy of India, and General Secretary of Yaqazat Feker, a popular youth organization in Egypt. He has a PhD in the philosophy of Islamic law from University of Wales in the UK, and a PhD in systems analysis from University of Waterloo in Canada. Early in his life, he memorized the Quran and studied Fiqh, Usul and Hadith in the halaqas of Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo. He previously worked as: Founding Director of the Maqasid Center in the Philosophy of Islamic Law in London; Founding Deputy Director of the Center for Islamic Ethics in Doha; professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, Alexandria University in Egypt, Islamic University of Novi Pazar in Sanjaq, Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, and the American University of Sharjah. He lectured and trained on Islam, its law, spirituality and ethics in dozens of other universities and organizations around the world. He wrote 25 books in Arabic and English, some of which were translated to 25 languages.