Q: Is the Zakat given to pay the wages of administrators a wage or Zakat?

A: In Bada’i al-Sana’i, Imam al-Kasani (d.587 H) states that the Zakat paid to the Amil is not purely Zakat, rather, it is an `imalah (commission) with a quasi-status; it is like Zakat from one angle and ‘Ujrah (wage) from another angle. In al-Jawharah al-Nayyirah, Imam al-Zabidi (d.800 H) has reiterated the same understanding. Due to the wages (‘Imalah) having a legal (hukmi) angle of Zakat in it, Imam al-Shurunbulali states that a Hashimi (family member of
the dear Prophet) cannot take this directly. Likewise, from the other angle of it being like a wage, it is permissible for a wealthy person to receive it. The commission was not entirely a wage nor a salary as the hours and amount received were unknown and thus could not be a valid Ijarah contract. The pay was dependent on what was collected and the services rendered. The payment was a commission from the Fuqara’ to Al-‘Amilina ‘Alayha. Upon the Amil taking
possession, Zakat was paid and discharged from the payers’ liability. Thereafter, the ‘Amil took his commission as an ‘Imalah and not directly as pure Zakat as mentioned by Imam al-Shurunbulali. Hence, Imam al-Kharkhi (d.340 H), Imam al-Tahawi (d.321 H) and Imam al-Jassas (d.370 H) state that the commission has an element (shubhah) of Zakat as the
commission is taken from the Zakat funds, and the shubhah is only treated as reality (haqiqah) in respect to a Hashimi.
The ‘Amilina ‘Alayha were paid from the Zakat funds because they occupied themselves to serve the Fuqara’, hence, they deserved to be paid for the service they are providing. It was a payment from the wealth collected for the Fuqara’ to the ‘Amilina ‘Alayha as they provided them this core and vital service.
The above demonstrates that the real relationship exists between the ‘Amilina ‘Alayha and the Fuqara’ they represent and serve. If an organisation can construct a similar relationship in today’s context without an Imam, the service providers can potentially be ‘Amilina ‘Alayha.