Subscribing to a Death Committee; Permissible or not?

20th April 2020

السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

Question: Death\Funeral committees which are run in many local Muslim communities. From a sharia perspective are they sharia compliant? Are they generally permissible in Islām?  From what I can gather is that each member pays a fixed amount each year say £100, after 1yr you can then make a claim to cover full funeral costs irrespective of whether one’s contributions were sufficient to cover the cost of a funeral.  Not sure of what happens to over payments. When contributing to such a committee who owns each contribution in the fund; is it the member or trustees? Is Zakaat payable if so who is liable each member or the trustees? How does this differ from standard insurance? Does any special intention have to be made at the outset by each member? If setting up a community death committee, what is one’s sharia obligations?


الجواب حامداً و مصلياً

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful



In reference to your query, for the sake of clarity, there are multiple Death Committees operating in the UK, each one functioning under specific conditions. The earliest Death Committee was founded around during the 1980s by a group of elders back home in Pakistan who recognised the need for generating funds to fulfil funeral expenses for the local villagers due to poverty. This concept was then transposed to the UK with some modifications of its terms and conditions over time. Many Masajids, funeral directories and local people connected with funeral services offer this scheme to their local people, each one operating differently from others with specific set of conditions. To address each of those conditions in light of its Islamic ruling is not possible lest it complicates the discussion unless the legal ruling of a specific clause from the condition is specified in the query. After obtaining information about its model and terms and conditions from websites, acquaintances who are members of the scheme and speaking to reliable funeral committees running the committee as well as scholars who have dealt with its legal stance, we conclude with the following answer.[1] To begin with, first understand the scheme itself. Death Committee was founded under the pretext of assisting the Muslim community to help cover all funeral costs at the time of someone’s death. It operates by people contributing funds on a yearly basis (or monthly charges by certain committees) in exchange of funeral services. Initially, an application form is filled out along with a joining fee payment as an initial subscription and then followed with a yearly payment of a fixed amount. The amount varies depending on the funeral costs as it tends to rise occasionally. Different committees charge different amount nevertheless, it averages between £30-£100 yearly. By paying the joining fee (varying between different committees) you become a member of this scheme which means that you are eligible to the benefits of the funeral package (which again varies between different committees). The annual contribution is paid by one member of the family. This single membership includes spouse and children below the age of 18. After reaching the age of 18, he or she is now responsible for renewing their own membership by paying the applicable fee. Anyone failing to pay the fee after its due date is issued a reminder and respite to pay the amount. Failing to pay will automatically remove them from the membership and all contributions made are non-refundable. In order to rejoin, a joining fee must be paid in addition to the yearly membership fee. In the advent of the death of a member, the next of kin or spouse continues with the existing membership without any additional charges. In the case when an individual remarries then they either continue with their existing membership or pay the new membership fee depending on the specific requirements set by the committee. All annual contributions are placed in a mutual pot that subsidises all funeral expenses. Occasionally, certain committees may request extra contributions from its members when they run short of funds. The operators of this scheme – trustees – set up a bank account and deposit all of the funds into it and take charge over these funds by discharging all funeral expenditures for its deceased beneficiary from this pot. The funding covers funeral directories, cemeteries costs, transportation if buried abroad including one person’s return ticket and in some cases catering costs. If a member dies abroad and buried there then a certain amount is paid to the family members to cover all local costs. Some committees cover repatriation costs as well whilst other may not necessarily cover it.

Most trustees, as some have informed me, do not take personal wages from the funds except that the initial joining fee is used to cover all admin costs. The information and as confirmed by the trustees, this contribution is not like a family kittee bank; a collective funding of savings by members to financially support each other and then reimbursed through monthly payments. Contrarily, the Death Committee, as some have mentioned to me, is a charitable contribution and not a loan-based system. Meaning that all members contribute as a form of charity to become recipients of all funeral benefits. This thus dismisses the question of underpayment or overpayment as all funds are treated as a charity contribution in return of funeral benefits for themselves, their families and for other contributing members.

The foregoing was a basic outline of the scheme across the board. They however differ in the details; each one operating with specific requirements and conditions dissimilar from the other. This being the dilemma, it is difficult to make a generic statement whether every committee comply fully with the Islamic ethical codes or not. Hence, all committees must be judged respectively by their own merit based on their terms and conditions.

In our understanding, no such model pre-existed our time during the prophetic time nor the generation of the companions or in the subsequent generation. Tracing such scheme in search of a similitude precedence from the Sunnah so to seek a clear legal stance is difficult, which means that this scheme is an unprecedented one. This scheme will therefore be judged according the general principles outlined in Islām. As far as the concept itself is concerned, it is not a reprehensible one but rather a beneficial concept for the welfare of Muslims. It in of itself concurs with the general Sharī῾ah objectives of Maslaha namely, public interest of procuring benefit and deferring harm. The rationale behind the Death Committee is to relieve individuals from the exorbitant costs of funeral expenses at the time of one’s death through a mutual funding in a pool affordable to everyone. The committee then uses the funds to cover all funeral costs. Essentially, to create ease for people and remove the financial constrains they inevitably incur. It can therefore be treated as a charitable contribution, as was pointed out earlier, with the aim of Muslims supporting one another. What is necessary is that the terms and conditions must not infringe the Islamic principles. It is to primarily serve the interest of the members and not the trustees themselves. No such clause should be included that lead to further harm for the members or entail any form of compulsion. For example, as a charity-based operation it is not permissible to fine members for delay in payment as this is force. It is however permissible to exclude members from the committee if they fail to make any further contributions. Likewise, no additional charges can be imposed on members like for instance, charging new members the overall costs of the past years as this goes against the principles of equity and fairness.

From the Sharī῾ah perspective, the Death Committee can represent somewhat a takaful or waqf model or alternatively a simple tabarru model.  A takaful or a waqf model means that all participants agree to pay a certain premium in a pool.[2] Each participant in return becomes a recipient of a type of cover they require for their personal circumstances – which in this case, funeral services. All risks are specified and all participants share the risks mutually. Takaful is a mutual co-operation system used as an alternative model to conventional insurance.[3] Albeit takaful and waqf operate differently, the end result is not much different. Whilst in the takaful model, the participants are considered the owners of the funds, the waqf model is somewhat a charity model where participants are not the owners but are the beneficiaries.  In the waqf model for instance, the operators can choose to invest in the money if need be to benefit the waqf funds only – e.g. to increase the funds to cover all funeral costs. The operators are not considered the owners of the waqf funding as a whole but act as guardians over it. They can however take a reasonable wage if necessary but only when the participants are aware of it and does not affect the waqf funding to cover funeral costs. [4] Each model requires a details discussion in respect to its application to the Death Committee with certain conditions which is beyond the scope of our answer. Suffice to say, it is important to remember that the participants are the primary beneficiaries and not the trustees. Should it be the case where the trustees use the funds to procure profit from it or based on a risk model whereby if during the year someone dies then they are paid out otherwise the operators take full possession over the funding pool, then this resembles conventional insurance that is prohibited. The primary distinction between insurance and the takaful/waqf model is that in the latter, the participants are the primary beneficiaries and (as in the takaful model) the owners of the funds, whereas in the former case – insurance – the company takes complete ownership over the funds for profit procurement and for private investors to invest in.

Another alternative model is a tabarru model which simply means charity. In other words, that members voluntarily contribute an amount to support one another to cover all expenses. In this model, there is no formal structure nor any conditions or a specific amount to be paid annually, unlike a waqf or takaful model that is structured with an agreed amount paid annually. It is merely to benefit people financially during urgent times. So, any Death Committee following either of these models whilst complying to their respective conditions makes it a valid scheme otherwise not.

The question of Zakāt on the funds depends on which respective model is adopted. If it resembles a takaful model then the participants are liable to pay Zakat on it as they are considered the owners. Other than that, in the tabarru’ or waqf model the participants are not liable to pay Zakāt on it as they do not own it. The trustees in this case however are encouraged to pay Zakāt on it so that it is not left without Zakat being paid on it although it is not essential as waqf and tabarru are both a form of charity in of themselves.


[Allãh Knows Best]


Written and researched by Mufti Abdul Waheed

Answer attested by Shaykh Mufti Saiful Islam

JKN Fatawa Department


[1] See the following links for more information on Death Committee, [accessed 30th March 2020]

Information was also obtained from personal interview with senior members for instance, Maulana Zaffar from Pakistan Muslim Welfare Society on Tue 7th April 2020 who have been running the service for 30 plus years with 100 plus members.


[2] Waqf is permitted in all moveable assets including Janaziz preparations.

Fatawa Hindiyyah, Kitāb al-Waqf, vol 2, p. 361

وَأَمَّا وَقْفُ الْمَنْقُولِ مَقْصُودًا فَإِنْ كَانَ كُرَاعًا أَوْ سِلَاحًا يَجُوزُ فِيمَا سِوَى ذَلِكَ إنْ كَانَ شَيْئًا لَمْ يَجْرِ التَّعَارُفُ بِوَقْفِهِ كَالثِّيَابِ وَالْحَيَوَانِ لَا يَجُوزُ عِنْدَنَا وَإِنْ كَانَ مُتَعَارَفًا كَالْفَأْسِ وَالْقُدُومِ وَالْجِنَازَةِ وَثِيَابِهَا وَمَا يُحْتَاجُ إلَيْهِ مِنْ الْأَوَانِي وَالْقُدُورِ فِي غَسْلِ الْمَوْتَى وَالْمَصَاحِفِ لِقِرَاءَةِ الْقُرْآنِ قَالَ أَبُو يُوسُفَ – رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى -: إنَّهُ لَا يَجُوزُ، وَقَالَ مُحَمَّدٌ – رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى -: يَجُوزُ، وَإِلَيْهِ ذَهَبَ عَامَّةُ الْمَشَايِخِ رَحِمَهُمْ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى مِنْهُمْ الْإِمَامُ السَّرَخْسِيُّ كَذَا فِي الْخُلَاصَةِ وَهُوَ الْمُخْتَارُ وَالْفَتْوَى عَلَى قَوْلِ مُحَمَّدٍ – رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى -، كَذَا قَالَ شَمْسُ الْأَئِمَّةِ الْحَلْوَانِيُّ كَذَا فِي مُخْتَارِ الْفَتَاوَى وَلَوْ جَعَلَ جِنَازَةً وَمُلَاءَةً وَمُغْتَسَلًا يُقَالُ بِالْفَارِسِيَّةِ حَوْضُ مَسِّينِ وَقْفًا فِي مَحِلِّهِ فَمَاتَ أَهْلُهَا كُلُّهُمْ لَا يُرَدُّ إلَى الْوَرَثَةِ بَلْ يُحْمَلُ إلَى مَكَان آخَرَ أَقْرَبَ إلَى هَذِهِ الْمَحَلَّةِ كَذَا فِي الْخُلَاصَةِ

Durrul Mukhtār wa hashiyah Ibn Ābideen Shāmi, Kitāb  al-waqf, vol 4 p. 340

(وَمَحَلُّهُ الْمَالُ الْمُتَقَوِّمُ)

[3] Institute of Islamic Banking and Insurance,, [accessed 30th March 2020]


[4] For more details on the Islamic waqf system, see Shaykh Khalid Sayfullah Rahmani, Qamūs al-Fiqh, Ch. Waqf, vol 5, pp. 293-309