Why CAIR qualifies for Zakat

CAIR tracks all zakat-designated donations using professional accounting software technology. Our accounting department oversees this process and maintains a master list of donations designated as zakat. CAIR gives anyone who donates directly to us online, through a fundraising mailer, or over the phone, an opportunity to designate their donation as zakat. 

Although all of CAIR’s activities ultimately go towards fulfilling our faith-based mission, we do not treat all of our activities or expenditures—such as honorariums for speakers—as  zakat-eligible.  

Based on the advice of respected scholars, we currently designate  zakat-eligible funds for the services provided by the following CAIR departments: 

  • Legal Department, which represents Muslim Americans victimized by anti-Muslim discrimination, including Muslim students, workers, travelers and incarcerated individuals. 
  • Government Affairs Department, which is dedicated to advocating for policies and laws that benefit the Muslim community by–for example–protecting their right to practice their religion, advocate for causes of justice, and travel freely and safely, among other things. 
  • Research & Advocacy Department, which is dedicated to monitoring, exposing and countering Islamophobia and other forms of bigotry. 

The esteemed Islamic scholar, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, has reviewed and approved CAIR’s zakat policy. Dr. Siddiqi, the chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America, graduated from the Islamic University of Madina in Saudi Arabia in 1965 with a higher degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies. He received an M.A. in Theology from Birmingham University in England and a Ph.D. in Comparative Religion from Harvard University in the USA. 

Other Muslim scholars have also confirmed that Zakat is payable to organizations that exist to serve the Muslim community by protecting their rights. This is because the work done by CAIR (and other such organizations) can be classified as fi-sabilillah, which is one of the eight categories of Zakat recipients detailed in the Quran (Chapter 9, Verse 60).

Islamic scholar Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: 

“I think it is not only permissible, rather it is also imperative that we do give our zakah to organizations like CAIR and CAIR-CAN, since they are fulfilling a most timely and essential service for the healthy survival of the community. Supporting such institutions clearly falls under the legitimate objectives of zakah as expounded by authentic scholars and jurists of Islam, both of the past and the present. 

“The categories of recipients of zakah are stated in the following verse: “Charities are (meant) only for the poor and the needy, and those who are charged with collecting them, and those whose hearts are to be won over, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage, and (for) those who are overburdened with debts, and (for those who strive) in Allah’s cause (fi sabili-llah), and (for) the way-farer: (this is) an ordinance from Allah””and Allah is All-Knowing and All-Wise” (At-Tawbah: 60). 

“As is clear from the above verse, one of the categories is fi sabili-llah.” Among the commentators of the Qur’an (mufassirun) as well as the jurists (fuqaha’), [are those] who have used the term fi sabili-llah in a far wider sense, thus extending it to include all beneficial works and projects that are of common benefit to the Ummah. They have thus included in this category such services as funeral arrangements, building and taking care of schools and mosques, establishing hospitals, building bridges, etc. In short, they definitely include institutions that provide educational or social services under this category and thus eligible to receive funds from zakah. 

“A principle of jurisprudence states: if a thing which has been considered as obligatory cannot be fulfilled without fulfilling another, then fulfilling the latter also becomes obligatory. Thus since protecting the rights of Muslims and empowering Muslims cannot be achieved without such institutions, it is imperative that Muslims support and maintain such institutions. 

“Muslims should have no hesitation in giving part of their Zakah to CAIR, which is providing a most timely and essential service for the cause of Islam and Muslims. They both have a reputation for professionalism, efficiency, commitment, and integrity, which in my mind are the most valuable assets of any Islamic organization worthy of the name. 

“May Allah give us all the honor of serving His cause efficiently and professionally, and may He also accept our humble efforts in His cause. Ameen.” 

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty is a well-known Islamic Scholar, a regular commentator on Islamic issues and makes fatwas on issues of importance to Muslims. 

Shiekh Ahmad Kutty’s Biography: Born in Kerala State, India (1946) Nationality: Canadian 

Educational background 

  • 1975-1980: McGill University, Montreal: Doctoral Studies; Specialized in Shari’ah Thought. 
  • 1972-1973: University of Toronto: Masters in Islamic Studies. 
  • 1968-1972: Islamic University of Madinah, Saudi Arabia: Licentiate in Usul al-Ddeen (first rank). 
  • 1957-1967: Islamiyya College: Graduated in the Traditional Islamic Sciences and received the ‘Ijazah (title) of al-Faqih fi al-deen (first rank).

Scholarly papers/works/publications, etc. 

  • Shah Waliullah’s Concept of Harmony (tatbiq) of Reason, Revelation and Intuition in the Light of Hujjat Allah al-Balighah (Under Preparation). 
  • Human Rights: The Western & Islamic Perspectives (Work in progress) 
  • Translation of al-‘Aqeedah al-tahawiyyah (2002) 
  • An analytical study of Ibn Taymiyyah’s al-‘Aqidat al-Wasitiyyah (1978) 
  • Translation of al-Insaf fi bayan asbab al-ikhtilaf (1981) 
  • An analytical study of Ibn Khaldun’s Shifa’ al-sa’il fi tahdhib al-masaail (1976) 
  • Al-Nass wa al-ikhtiyaar fi al-khilafah: A Comparative Study of the Sunni and the Shi’ah Theories of Khilafah/Imamah (1982) 
  • Kitab al-Tawhid of Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (d. 944): A report on his work with reference to his role in the development of Kalam (1978) 
  • Abolition of Khilafah and the reaction of the Muslim world (1976) 
  • Muhammad b. Abd al-Wahhab: His life & Reformist Ideas (1976) 
  • Shah Waliullah’s Concept of Shari’ah (1979) 
  • Ibn Taymiyyah’s Attitude towards Sufism (1979) 
  • Ramadan: Blessings and Rules (1990) 
  • 14 Islamic Funeral Rites (1991) 
  • Social Justice in Islam: A translation of Sayyid Qutb’s al-adalatul ijtima’iyyah fi al-islam into Malayalam (4th edition, 1987) 
  • Miscellaneous articles published in various newspapers/magazines 

Courses taught 

  • Evolution of Fiqh and the Emergence of the Schools of Jurisprudence 
  • Fiqh al-Hadith: A Study of Bulugh al-Maraam 
  • Readings in Sahih al-Bukhari 
  • Islamic Ethics: Readings in Riyad al-Saliheen 
  • Fiqh of Priorities 
  • Islamic Ethics and Morals 
  • Studies in Islamic Spirituality based on Imam Ghazzali’s Ihya ulum al-Ddeen 
  • Islamic ‘Aqeedah Level One 
  • Islamic ‘Aqeedah Level Two 
  • Marriage and Family in Islam 
  • Comparative Religions 
  • Sects and Sectarianism in Islam 
  • Fiqh al-Zakah 
  • Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh) 

Career/experience 

  • Presently: Senior Lecturer/Imam at the Islamic Institute of Toronto & and a non-resident Imam/Khatib (orator) at the following centers/mosques in Toronto: Islamic Center of Canada, Islamic Center of Canada, Bosnian Islamic Center, and Ansar Mosque 
  • 1984-1994: Director/Imam Islamic Foundation of Toronto 
  • 1979-1982: Director/Imam: Islamic Center of Toronto 
  • 1973-1975: Assistant Director: Islamic Center of Toronto 

Participation in Seminars/Symposia, etc. 

  • Participated as a presenter in numerous seminars, conferences, and symposiums (from 1975 onwards). 
  • Participated on a regular basis in the ISNA conferences as a speaker & as a participant in Fiqh Sessions (1975 onwards). 
  • Presentations on Islam in various churches/ inter-faith gatherings/hospitals, etc. 
  • Gave numerous interviews to newspapers/ television (both local and national) on various issues affecting Islam and Muslims. 

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