Using Zakah in Building Institutes of Al-Azhar

Answered according to Maliki Fiqh by

Is it permissible to spend Zakah money to build Azhari institutes? Bear in mind that students in our country are in a dire need of this type of education, which is not financially supported by the state. Please answer us, may Allah reward you!

Scholars differ as to this point. Some believe that the category of “for Allah’s Cause” – mentioned in the Qur’an as one of the eight categories on which Zakah may be spent – may cover building Azhari institutes. It also covers paying for tuition, paving roads and building hospitals. All of these things are “for Allah’s Cause”, as they believe. Yet, the majority of scholars believe that the category of “for Allah’s Cause” covers only those going to Jihad or to Hajj.
So there are two groups of scholars. One group thinks that the category of “for Allah’s Cause” may include any act done for Allah’s Sake. This opinion is held by the Shafi`i Imam Al-Qaffal and Sheikh Muhammad Abdu and his student Muhammad Rashid Rida, in addition to some contemporary scholars. Thus, it is permissible to build Azhari institutes from Zakah money, according to their view. However, the widely known opinion is that of the majority of scholar which prefers giving Zakah to the poor or fighters in the cause of Allah, or according to Malik, to buy weapons. Scholars of this opinion further believe that this category does not include such things in question. So, Azhari institutes should be built with money from charity or endowments. And Allah knows best.