Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
I was wondering about Zakat, can it be given to Non-Muslims? And is the category of “those whose hearts are inclined” no longer applicable or is that only when is Islam has some power?
There is scholarly consensus (ijma`), as mentioned by Ibn Mundhir, Kasani, and others, that it is not permitted to give zakat to a non-Muslim.
This is understood directly from many primary texts, including the hadith of Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) told Sayyiduna Mu`adh ibn Jabal (Allah be pleased with him) when he was being sent to Yemen, “ Then inform them that Allah has made zakat obligatory upon them. [It is taken] from their wealth, and given to their poor ” [Bukhari 1365, Muslim 26-27, and elsewhere]
The hadith commentators mention that their above refers to the Muslims,’ in both cases. This is how Imam Kasani explained it in his Bada’i` al-Sana’i` in Hanafi fiqh, too.
As for those whose hearts are to be inclined,’ this category has been abrogated according to the Hanafi scholars. [Hidaya]
Imam Abu Bakr al-Jassas, the 4th century AH Hanafi mujtahid imam, explains in his brilliant commentary on the Qur’anic verses containing legal rulings that other charity, however, may be given to needy non-Muslims because it is considered to fall under the general instruction that, “Allah forbids you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that you should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loves the just dealers.” (Qur’an, 60: 8) [Jassas, Ahkam al-Qur’an, 1.629-630]
Abu al-Darda’ (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) said, “Nothing more weighty than good character is placed on the Scales [on the Day of Judgement].” [Tirmidhi 1936, Abu Dawud 4166, Ahmad 26224, and others]