Assalamu‘alaikum SS Dato’ Mufti. Is intention obligatory when paying zakat?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Intention is obligatory when paying zakat for it is what differs zakat with kaffarah or other types of charity. This is in accordance with a renown hadith:
إِنَّمَا الْأَعْمَالُ بِالِّنيَّاتِ
“(The value of) an action depends on the intention.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (1) and Sahih Muslim (1907)
Whereas, the owner of the property who uses a proxy to pay his zakat, it is obligatory for him to set the intention when handing the zakat to the proxy and it is not obligatory for the proxy to set the intention when he is distributing the zakat to the rightful recipients, but it is prioritized for him to set the intention. Furthermore, if the owner of the property did not set the intention, then even if the proxy set the intention for zakat it is not enough.
It is enough for the owner of the property to set the intention when handing the zakat to religious bodies of authority, for they act as a representative in distributing the zakat to the rightful recipients and it is the same as though he is distributing it to the rightful recipients himself.
Whereas, if the owner of the property did not set the intention when handing the zakat to the body of authorities, it is not enough. Hence, it will not be considered as zakat. The same as the case of paying zakat through proxy stated above.