Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
An integral condition for the validity of zakat payments is that they be made to a NEEDY INDIVIDUAL (except for the appointed zakat collector, who may take zakat even if not 'needy'). [This is mentioned in all Hanafi texts, including al-Ikhtiyar, al-Hidaya, and Ibn Abidin's Radd al-Muhtar.]
Note that a common false quote that some modernist scholars make is that some Hanafi texts say that the category of "in the way of Allah (fi sabili 'Llah)" includes, "all acts of good through which one draws closer to Allah. They claim is backed by the (true) assertion that Imam al-Kasani says this in his monumental Bada'i` al-Sana'i`, one of the standard references of the Hanafi school. While this is true, it is also true that the texts of a madhhab explain each other: other texts when they quote Imam al-Kasani's position, which is not the relied upon in the school anyways, they explain what is meant by saying, "that is, those needy persons involved in any act of good through which one draws closer to Allah." [Mentioned, for example, by Ibn Abidin in his Radd al-Muhtar.] This is backed by the fact that Imam al-Kasani HIMSELF makes it a condition that the zakat be paid to a needy individual.
This is why it is not enough to quote texts; one has to understand them, and present them as understood by the scholars of that school.
Modernists and others, unfortunately, always misquote texts. One famous modernist scholar, trying to "prove" that chess is permitted even in the Hanafi school, quotes leading Hanafi texts from the chapter on court procedure and witnesses to prove that because a person who plays chess is not legally corrupt (fasiq), then this means chess is permitted in the Hanafi school. Unfortunately, he does not mention that ALL the same texts mention explicitly in the chapter on halal and haram that chess is prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) according to the relied opinion, which is the position of Imam Abu Hanifa and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan (Allah have mercy on them). They mention, however, that Abu Yusuf permitted it, as did the Shafi`is, with strict conditions. All the texts the modernist scholar quoted indicate is that playing chess is not a major sin...
Sayyidna Ali (may Allah ennoble his countenance) said, "This matter is your deen, so be careful whom you take your deen from."
Shaykh Abu Usamah: An essential condition for the validity of Zakah is tamlik. i.e. ownership must transfer from the person giving zakah to an eligible recipient. Hence Zakah cannot be given to a mosque as it is not a (real) person eligible to receive zakah.
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