Praise be to Allaah.
The fuqahaa differed as to whether it is
permissible to give charity to a kaafir. The reason for the difference of opinion is that
charity means giving something in the hope of earning reward, so will a person be rewarded
for spending on a kaafir? The Hanbalis said and it is the well known view of the
Shaafais and was also reported from Muhammad in al-Siyar al-Kabeer
that it is permissible to give charity to kaafirs in general. This is because of the
general applicability of the aayah (interpretation of the meaning): And they give
food, in spite of their love for it (or: for the love of Him) to the poor, the orphan and
the captive [al-Insaan 76:8]. Ibn Qudaamah said: At that time, captives
could only have been kaafirs. The Prophet SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) said: In (the kind treatment of) every living being there is a
reward. Asma bint Abi Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with them both) said:
My mother came to visit me and she was a mushrik at the time of the Messenger of
Allaah SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). I asked the Messenger of Allaah
SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), My mother has come to visit me,
and she does not want to become Muslim. Should I uphold the ties of kinship with my
mother? He said, Yes, uphold the ties of kinship with your mother.
Because upholding the ties of kinship is praiseworthy in all religions, and giving to
others is a noble characteristic. Al-Mawsooah al-Fiqhiyyah, part 26.
If a non-Muslim person is asking, it is either of the
He has an urgent need, such as food, and if he does not receive food he
will die. In this case you should feed him, unless he is openly hostile towards Islam, in
which case you should refrain. In cases like this, what is given to him should be charity
(sadaqah), not zakaah.
His need is not urgent as in the first case, but something may be given
to a person like this for the purpose of opening his heart and calling him to Islam,
because this serves the overall purpose of shareeah.
And Allaah knows best.