Q: I am one of the chieftains of
district where (Part No. 8; Page No. 355) there are many subordinate chieftains and deputies who directly follow us. You are rightfully aware that Zakah (obligatory charity) is one of the five pillars of Islam. When the government determines the time of collecting it, the chieftain would send a delegate on his behalf to take a tenth of Zakah from subordinate tribes. Officially, 20% of the Zakah is given to the chieftain and 10% is given to his deputy. We noticed that this only takes place in the Southern Province. We are greatly concerned and fearful of Allah (Exalted be He) for this share which we take for free and without any effort, while the government offers sufficient dues for the chieftains. Therefore, I doubt the permissibility of taking these portions and I resorted to you to illustrate the matter, because I am greatly concerned about it.After referring an inquiry to His Excellency, Minister of Finance, concerning the opinion of the Ministry in this regard, His Eminence stated the following:We refer to you letter no. 46 s 2, dated 1/12/1420 A.H, which states that you receive questions from some of the chieftains of
district about the ruling on sending a delegate on behalf of one of them to collect the Zakah (obligatory charity) of his subordinate tribes. The delegated person takes a tenth of the Zakah, the chieftain takes a fifth and his deputy takes (Part No. 8; Page No. 356) a tenth. This is defined by the government for them when they collect Zakah, and you want to know about the permissibility of that.I would like to state that, since the time of King
(may Allah confer mercy upon him), the government has been sending civil servants to collect Zakah of livestock from all parts of the kingdom with the aim of making it easy for Muslims to give Zakah of their cattle. The Southern Province and part of the Western Province are very rugged and are not properly trodden. So it is difficult for our workers to reach all the areas there. Thus, the government used to
give a tenth of the Zakah to the chieftains and their deputies who would collect the Zakah of their people
and submit it to the representative of the government. It continued to pay out these tenths according to the noble order no. 7 B 5650 dated 14/4/1408 AH. However, after the development of means of transportation, roads and services, civil servants are now able to reach these areas and districts, count the number of Zakah payers and collect it directly from them. Also, they would get the name of the chieftain or his deputy and record it in the Zakah document. Then, after finishing their work, the chieftains or their deputies would come to take the tenth of the Zakah, though they did (Part No. 8; Page No. 357) nothing in collecting it from those who paid it, contrary to what they used to do in the past. A chieftain would take a tenth if he did not have a deputy. If there is a deputy, he would take a quarter of the tenth, the deputy would take half of the tenth and the chieftain of Shimal would take the remaining quarter of the tenth. The instructions given to government officials provided for giving out these shares, because the government gave no orders about that but only instructed them to give a tenth to the chieftains and their deputies. This is all that the Ministry has in this regard.The Ministry of Finance believes that those chieftains and their deputies are not included in the category of Zakah collectors. However, the legal opinion on the permissibility of taking this tenth by them is determined by the bodies that issue Fatwa (legal opinion issued by qualified Muslim scholar). We hope you will read this and inform us with your opinion.
Since the government officials can now reach any area and take Zakah from those who are obliged to pay it, and that chieftains, their deputies and delegates do nothing in the process of Zakah collection, they do not deserve anything from it. This is because they used to take that in the past in return for their work which, now they do not do.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.