Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat
Can we host an iftar in Ramadan with zakat money?
No, this is not permissible. One of the conditions for the valid payment of zakat is to make the recipient the owner of the money. In this situation, you would be merely allowing him to eat the food you serve at the Iftar, so it won’t be valid as payment of zakat. [Maydani, al-Lubab]
Attaining the Love of Allah
Don’t let that put you off feeding people. One means of getting closer to Allah is through such acts. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) quoted Allah Most High said, “My love is incumbent on those who love each other for My sake, and those who sit with each other for My sake, and those who visit each other for My sake, and those who spend on each other for My Sake.” [Imam Malik, Muwatta]
Inviting someone, preparing food, and sitting with them each will fulfill scenarios in this hadith if you intend to do all this and love them for Allah Most High.
May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.
[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani