The principle aim of this paper will look at the concept of tamlīk (or possession of zakat-money) from two dimensions: tamlīk by the recipient of zakat and tamlīk by the plenipotentiary, to wit, the organisation deputised to distribute the zakat-money. Hence there are two aspects pertaining to this: firstly how the legal institution of tamlīk has been adapted to fit a particular method of distribution in a British context. This is in particular reference to two methods: 1- providing victims of domestic violence refuge, the cost of which will be picked up by the British zakat-payer. 2- the distribution of zakat in the form of foodstuff or other identical necessities without rendering any cash. Further to this, the notion of tamlīk will be compared with social enterprise ideas, that is to say, using zakat funds to finance socioeconomic infrastructures and religious propagation.
The second aspect is to identify the legal status of Gift Aid in relation to zakat donations using the juristic maxim ‘the subordinate follows the principle’. With regards to the former, the problem is that the money is not given direct to the deserving recipients but paid directly to providers of the service, thus begging the question has ‘tamlīk’ taken place. Also the conversion of zakat-money to foodstuff and the like begs the question of with what authority does the zakat-distributor do this and does it suffice as tamlīk by the recipient? With regards to the latter, is Gift Aid a part of zakat or is it a separate entity and nothing to do with zakat. In both cases the body deputised to distribute has a religio-ethical duty of distributing the zakat-money it has taken possession of, in order to meet the allocative function outlined in the Qur’an. This paper will hopefully exhibit a nuanced commonsensical and rational approach towards balancing the different juristic interpretations with a meticulous care to present as objectively as possible the views of opposing legal doctrines before embarking to refute weaker claims and to argue for the strongest view. I personally find this blending of traditional and rational argument (al-istidlāl wa’l ihtijāj bi’l manqūl wa’l ma‘qūl) the best approach to understanding classical issues in a contemporary context.
Dr Shahrul Hussain
Lecturer in Islamic Studies
Markfield Institute for Higher Education