Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Can zakah be paid to students of Islamic knowledge who want to study the deen for several years but do not have the funds sufficient to last for the period of study? Is this classed as “In the way of Allah”?
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.
It is permitted (and praiseworthy) to give zakat to students of Islamic knowledge if they are poor or needy; otherwise, it would not be permitted. [ Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Fatawa Hindiyya ] All categories of zakat recepients (except state-appointed zakat collectors) must be poor or needy in order to be eligible. [ibid.; Kasani, Bada’i`]
And Allah alone gives success.