Islamic scholar Sheikh Ahmad Kutty a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
The categories of recipients of zakah are stated in the following verse: “Charities are (meant) only for the poor and the needy, and those who are charged with collecting them, and those whose hearts are to be won over, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage, and (for) those who are overburdened with debts, and (for those who strive) in Allah’s cause (fi sabili-llah), and (for) the way-farer: (this is) an ordinance from Allah—and Allah is All-Knowing and All-Wise” (At-Tawbah: 60).
As is clear from the above verse, one of the categories is fi sabili-llah. … among the commentators of the Qur’an (mufassirun) as well as the jurists (fuqaha’), who have used the term fi sabili-llah in a far wider sense, thus extending it to include all beneficial works and projects that are of common benefit to the Ummah. They have thus included in this category such services as funeral arrangements, building and taking care of schools and mosques, establishing hospitals, building bridges, etc. In short, they definitely include institutions that provide educational or social services under this category and thus eligible to receive funds from zakah.
A principle of jurisprudence states: if a thing which has been considered as obligatory cannot be fulfilled without fulfilling another, then fulfilling the latter also becomes obligatory. Thus since protecting the rights of Muslims and empowering Muslims cannot be achieved without such institutions, it is imperative that Muslims support and maintain such institutions.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty is a well known Islamic Scholar, a regular commentator on Islamic issues and makes fatwas on issues of importance to Muslims.