Q: How might we interpret fi sabeelillah in the modern context? Could this include campaigning or advocacy activities – for example, raising awareness about Islamic teachings on poverty issues, dispelling misperceptions about Islam, speaking out on international justice issues etc.
الجواب حامدا ومصليا ومسلما ومنه الصدق والصواب
A: Whilst the literal meaning of fi sabilillah has wide connotations and includes all acts that earn the pleasure of Allah, jurists of all the mainstream schools have restricted its purport here to members of the armed forces with a little difference in detail whilst some have also extended it to Ḥajj. Again, see the following link for further details: http://alqalam.org.uk/research-papers/utilising-zakat-for-welfare-projects/
According to the preponderant and correct position the category of fi sabilillah cannot be extended to include raising awareness about Islamic teachings on poverty issues, dispelling misperceptions about Islam, or speaking out on international justice issues, etc. Whilst such issues need to be addressed their expenditure should be met from other funding streams besides zakat.