answer your questions, some basic premises about zakāt need to be understood.
Zakāt is the
only tax an Islamic government can impose upon its Muslim citizens. It is not
merely a charity fund but can be spent on the collective needs of the people
as well: The zakāt money can be used to pay the salaries of government
officials including that of the head of state, to build all works of public
interest, to cater for defence requirements and to establish an Islamic system
of Insurance. In short, the system of zakāt envisaged by the Qur’ān and Sunnah
totally meets the requirements of running a welfare state. Unfortunately, the
true concept of zakāt has, over the years, altogether vanished from our
following Qur’ānic verse spells out the heads under which the zakāt fund can
only for the poor and the needy, and for those who are ‘āmils over it, and for
those whose hearts are to be reconciled [to the truth], and for the
emancipation of the slaves and for those who have been inflicted with losses
and for the way of Allah and for the wayfarers. (9:60)
explanation of these heads follows:
1) The Poor
and Needy (Fuqarā and Masākīn): The poor and the needy are the foremost
recipients of zakāt because they are the primary responsibility of the state.
It must cater for their basic needs like food, clothing, shelter, health and
‘A^mils over Zakāt(`amilīna `alayhā): Under this head, the salaries of all
employees of the government including the head of the state can be paid.
whose hearts are to be reconciled (Muallafatu’l Qulūb): Under this head come
all forms of political expenditure in the interest of Islam. There are may be
many instances, when the affection of certain influential people must be
obtained, particularly in border areas where their role can be decisive in the
safety of a country. During the time of the Prophet (sws) many tribes were
given money under this head to deter them from harming the newly founded
(Riqāb): The institution of slavery was totally eliminated by Islam fourteen
centuries ago. From this particular head money was given to free slaves.
Today, by analogy, this head can be extended to include other recipients. For
example, prisoners of war and other prisoners who are unable to pay the fine
imposed by the courts can be freed by giving money through this head.
inflicted with losses (Ghārimīn): Under this head, an Islamic system of
Insurance can be established and all those who are inflicted with economic
losses can be compensated. Whether rich or poor the real criterion is that
their means of living and its role in the national economy have been
destroyed. People who have acquired a loan and are unable to pay it back may
also be helped from this money so that they may start afresh and the society
can benefit from their abilities.
6) In the
Way of Allah (Fī Sabīlillāh): Under this head, all kinds of expenditures which
serve the cause of Islam like defence requirements, religious propagation,
educational institutions, mosques, libraries and hospitals can be built.
Wayfarer (Ibnu’l sabīl): This implies the welfare of the wayfarer.
Circumstances often make a traveller a needy person, in which case, his needs
can be fulfilled from this head. Also roads and bridges can be constructed.
these details in consideration, the answers to your first three questions is
in the affirmative.
It is also
evident from the verse quoted above that the Qur’ān does not discriminate
between the recipients of zakāt on the basis of their beliefs or religion.
Consequently, the answer to your fourth question is that you can give your
zakāt money to Christians.