Q: Is the category of 'Winning Hearts' still applicable?

A: According to the Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali schools, this meta-category is a valid avenue for
Zakat distribution.
Among the Hanafi scholars, there is a difference of opinion in respect to this meta-category. Some Hanafi jurists have suggested this category has been abrogated whilst others have clearly stated that this meta-category is not abrogated, but that it is dependent on the existence of an ‘illa (effective legal cause) . Imam al-Zayla’i (d.743 AH) states that it is not abrogated, rather it is not practised if the circumstances do not require it . Ibn Nujaym (d.970 AH) states in al-‘Inayah that
the preferred opinion is that it is not abrogated . In Kashf al-Asrar, it is also stated that the ‘illa was absent as opposed to being abrogated . Maulana Abdul Hayy al-Laknawi (d.1304 AH) states that
this category is not abrogated, rather, the ‘illa was not present . This can obviously be understood
in the context of these jurists who wrote, researched and lived in a polity of Muslims where
Islam was well-established. In respect to the Ijtihad of Sayyiduna ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased
with him) regarding this meta-category, Ibn Abidin (d.1252 AH) and others state the underlying
reason for this meta-category was no longer there in his time. The meta-category existed to
serve Islam in a certain context. That context ceased to exist and, as a result, he abandoned the
use of this meta-category. Islam had reached a height whereby people were drawn to Islam by
its grandeur and reputation . This appealed and reconciled hearts more than any wealth could.
There was no need to soften the stance towards Islam. Thus, there was no longer a need to apply
this meta-category to appeal to converts or those of other faiths and none. People themselves
were positive about Islam and the Muslims without having to fund such initiatives.
According to the majority of scholars, this meta-category is still functional and not limited to a
specific context; rather, it can be used to support the flourishing of Islam when required.

And Allah knows best!

Mufti Faraz Adam