Can Zakat be used to pay for Hajj?-Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali

In the school of Imam Malik, can funds of zakat be utilized to fund a person’s trip to Hajj? Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali of Zaytuna College responds to this question.
Question :

Can Zakat money be used to fund a person’s trip to Hajj if the person cannot afford it?

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Answer :

As for using Zakat money for the purpose of paying for one to go to Hajj, this is somewhat of a problematic issue since only people who can afford to go must do so. As for Zakat, it generally is to be given to those in need. Similarly, a “trip for Hajj” is not a form of Zakatable wealth.

In the Maliki School, a Hajj trip would not fulfill the obligation nor conditions for a valid Zakat. The only way that such monies might be valid as Zakat would be if we consider the person either a debtor in a case when the person still owes money to someone who facilitated the Hajj for him/her; a wayfarer who needs money to continue one’s journey to Hajj or return home in light of being cut off from continuing that journey, or if we consider the pilgrim to be “in the way of Allah” (fi sabilillah): an expression that classical Malikis applied exclusively to Jihad preparations.
There are those who have reinterpreted or generalized this final category of recipients: justifying the use of Zakat money to build mosques or to pay the expenses of students of knowledge. But I’m not sure if a person performing Hajj would be included under that general category. And Allah knows best.

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