Can an organization or group claim to have the only right of collecting zakaah in our country, Trinidad? Who is authorized to collect zakaah?
In an Islamic state it is the duty of the Islamic Government to put a system in place which would be responsible for the collection and distribution of zakaah to the deserving ones. In doing so, they may create offices or departments for this purpose or may grant approval to any existing group or organization to do the same. In this case (where the state is an Islamic one), an official proclamation can be made to the Muslims of that country that zakaah should be paid only to the Islamic state, which will be totally in charge of its just and fair distribution to the deserving ones of the entire Muslim population. This is possible in an Islamic country since it is the Islamic Government who is responsible for looking after the needs of the poor and needy of that country. However this is not possible in a state which is not run under Islamic law. The reason is that in an un-Islamic state there is no sole authority over the body of Muslims. In such an environment Muslims form themselves into organizations and groups and try their best to practice the teachings of Islam as far as possible.
Each group or organization may implement different systems to look after the welfare of their Muslim brothers/sisters. As such Marriage/Divorce Councils, Funeral Services, Fund and Trust etc are all set up. These are developed for the welfare of the Muslims. In this way each Masjid, group or organization may also collect zakaah and other charities to help the poor, needy and deserving ones of that same locality/city. Since there is no sole authority governing the Muslims in an un-Islamic state, they are at liberty to distribute their zakaah/charity to whomsoever they wish from among the deserving ones. They may give it directly to the poor and needy or may deliver it to their organization, group or Masjid for re-distribution to the poor and needy. There is absolutely no force upon them to do any one thing. In a like manner, no group or organization can demand that zakaah be paid to them alone.
In fact, no group or organization has any authority in Islam to make such a claim nor can they claim that they are the only lawful recipients of zakaah. Zakaah is a person’s obligation to Allah and hence, he/she cannot be forced to give it to any one specific person/group.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan
This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.