First of all, I am not a muslim and thus do not know much about Islam, but I am reading a book from Tayeb CHOUIREF, L'Islam expliqué (Islam Explained, march 2022) and reached the part about zakât.

Somewhere in the book, the author says that there is no official authority in Islam. By that, I mean any official, like the Pope for the christians, that gives orientation on how Islam should be practiced (not the corrects words, but I think you'll get the idea).

This absence of authority is for all Islamic orientations but Shiite, if I remember well.

However, when explaining what zakât is, the author says that it is given to poor people, or to those responsible for collecting donations.

  • Who is in charge of collecting it ?
  • How are these people selected ?
  • How do you make sure the collected donations are actually distributed to those needing it ?

2 Answers 2


In Islam there is supposed to be a leader of the Muslim, called the caliph. Among other duties, the caliph is also responsible for collecting and distributing Zakat. He may also delegate the task to others.

The Prophet ﷺ collected Zakat and also appointed various people to collect it:

خذ من أموالهم صدقة

Take, [O, Muhammad], from their wealth a charity

Quran 9:103

والعاملين عليها

for those employed to collect [zakah]

Quran 9:60

استعمل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم رجلا من الأسد على صدقات بني سليم يدعى ابن اللتبية

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) appointed a man called Ibn Al-Lutabiyya to collect the Zakat from Bani Sulaim's tribe.


After his death the caliphs collected Zakat, for example Abu Bakr (the first caliph) said the following when some tribes refused to pay it:

والله لو منعوني عقالا كانوا يؤدونه إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لقاتلتهم على منعه

By Allah, if they refuse to give me even a tying rope which they use to give to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ), I would fight them for withholding it.


Note that according to various madhabs certain types of Zakat can also be distributed by the owners themselves in certain conditions. For example:

  • When the caliph allows the people to do so. This is permissible for the caliph when he trusts that they will do it honestly.

  • When the caliphate is not present or is corrupt.

  • When the property on which zakat is due is of a private nature such as cash, as opposed to one which is publicly known such as agricultural produce, cattle and trade goods.

In present times people either distribute Zakat themselves, and also governments collect it in certain places.


Our practice in the diaspora community is that nobody controls the amount of Zakat payment. We have a community collection for members of our community and initiatives run or supported by members of the community. Many of us have origins in states where the economy is down and a lot of projects need financial help from abroad. We agreed to give the Zakât on our official tax income as traditional rulings are too far off from the economic reality. The collection need not cover the entire amount. Every believer is in charge of his contribution from his faith, before God.

P.S. The situation of a Muslim in a non Muslim state is quite similar to non-Muslim in an (ancient) Muslim state paying Jiziyah: We pay the official tax plus Zakât, as those paid Jiziah and teethe.

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