Chapter two: Recipients of Zakat Money
1. Categories of Recipients
All different types of zakat , including zakatual fitr,
is spent in eight different avenues, as determined by shari'a law. The
avenues of expenditure are designed to tackling a number of essential
matters and acute problems facing man. On top of these, is poverty; among
which also was the emancipation of slaves, even if they are non-Muslims,
hence the importance of the role of this blessed obligation in social
bonding and economic progress.
These avenues are:
i. &. ii. Needy and the Poor
a needy person is one who is unable to meet his family's annual
expenditure either due to lack of funds as a lump sum or by way of a
regular daily of monthly income, depending on status.
A poor person is one who lives below this level.
"Annual expenditure" cover all those needs necessary for his living,
which may include wedding expenses, a house, a means of transport,
clothes for the different seasons, scientific books (for those engaged in
that field), medical expenses and hospitality expenses, commensurate with
30. He who can earn a living, yet does not do so out of laziness and
apathy is not entitled to receive zakat money. It is obligatory on him to
seek employment and earn a living. Should he embark on a training course
with a view to getting work that is in line with his status, he can
receive zakat money during the training period.
Theology students, who cannot work because of their dedication to full
time study, are exempt. This is dictated by the need for the services of
such people for preaching, upholding the principle of enjoining good and
forbidding evil, as well as propagating Islam.
31. Should the would-be recipient of zakat have capital assets of any
kind, yet they are hardly sufficient to maintain him, it is not
obligatory on him to sell such assets to subsidize his annual provisions
in order to be eligible for zakat. He may retain his status quo and
replenish the shortfall from zakat money.
32. The person who is capable of earning a living, yet the work he may be
engaged in is out of kilter with his social standing is treated as though
he is unable to get work. The same should apply to a tradesman who does
not possess the tools of his trade. These people can receive zakat.
33. Some theology students may be able to earn a decent living without
this constituting any strain neither on their study nor their religious
activities. Yet, they choose not to tread this path. Thus, it is not
permissible for them to receive zakat from the share of the "needy".
However, they can be paid from the share dedicated to the work "in the
cause of Allah", provided that they are active in promoting Islam and not
seeking the limelight. This could extend to those in their class, i.e.
activist in the social arena and that of jihad and other similar avenues,
whose work can benefit the faith and strengthen it, which comes under the
definition of "the cause of Allah".
34. It has to be made absolutely certain that the recipient is really
needy. This could be achieved by either firsthand information or by the
testimony of a trustworthy person. If at the outset the claimant is among
those who can be trusted, his word has to be accepted for it. The same
applies to a person whose background in unknown and it is not possible to
investigate it, and nothing is known as to whether or not he was well to
do. Such a person can be given of zakat money. However, should we be in a
position to know that he used to be wealthy, we have to bar him from
receiving zakat money unless we be confident of his truthfulness and take
his word that he is now in need of financial help.
The same ruling applies to other categories of people, apart form the
needy and the poor, such as those in debt (gharimeen), the wayfarer, the
slave, and those working in collecting the zakat; That is, it is not
permissible to give them of zakat money except after exhausting all
avenues to check their backgrounds with a view to concluding whether or
not they are eligible to receiving it.
iii. The officials Appointed to Administer it (al amiloon alayha)
Administering the zakat involves its collection, distribution,
book-keeping… etc. Appointing such officials is the prerogative of the
just government. However, it could be assumed by the Marji' who is
capable of shouldering such a responsibility. It could also be done
through the initiative of the faithful. In all these cases, the appointed
person has a right in receiving a share from zakat money as remuneration.
iv. Those Whose Hearts Are Made to Incline to Truth (al mu'alafat
Those are Muslims whose belief in Islamic tenets has been
shaken. So they are given a share of zakat to solidify their faith, lest
they should go astray.
Under this banner too comes non-Muslims who may be inclined to embrace
Islam, and their help is enlisted to safeguard the interests of the ummah,
such as defending the homeland, spread of peace and tranquility,
materialization of peaceful co-existence…etc.
v. The Ransoming of Captives (ar riqaab)
This duty can be discharged by the state, as well as
individuals. The aim being that making funds available to those slaves
who bought themselves out from their masters, to escape their clutches
and maltreatment, but could not pay for it.
Indeed, zakat money should be made available to all slaves wanting to be
set free. Since, bondage is very rare these days, this share may be spent
in any of the other avenues of zakat. We have mentioned it just to show
how Islam has catered for the emancipation of slaves and ridding humanity
of slavery once and for all.
vi. Those in Debt (algharimoon)
Those are insolvent persons who, although can spend on their annual
provisions, find it difficult to pay their debs. That is, provided that
such debts have not been incurred in going against what Allah has
vii. The Way of Allah (Sbilil Lah)
"The way of Allah" is a wide banner under which comes any work directed
to the general good, such as building of mosques, schools, hospitals,
strengthening the defense forces, settling of conflicts, fighting
corruption and forbidding evil… etc.
viii. The Wayfarer (ibinis sabil)
This is the traveler who is left stranded. He can be given of zakat money
to ensure his return to his homeland. The payment should include the fare
and personal expenses as is customary. That is, on condition that his
travel was not of the sort, which is unlawful, that he is unable to
borrow money, and that he is not in a position to sell of his own
property back home, as a matter of obligatory precaution.
2. The Criteria the Recipients Should Meet
It is sufficient for the payment or zakat money to be made to
any would-be recipient in any of the preceding categories because they
may satisfy the general headline of that particular category. There are
however other requirements that must be fulfilled:
i. Faith. Those entitled for receiving zakat money, especially
among the needy and the poor, have to be devout Muslims, in that zakat
should not be paid to either the poor among non-Muslims or non-devout
Muslims. As for those in the remaining categories, i.e. al gharimoon,
ibinsih sabil, etc., being Muslims and devout is not a must.
ii. The recipient should not be a sworn sinner.
This is particularly so in "the needy and the poor". However, it is not
meant that the recipient should be free from all kinds of sin. What is
important is that one should be sure he is not going to spend zakat money
in gambling or drinking alcohol, for example. As a matter of obligatory
precaution, the recipient should not be one who took drinking alcohol, or
is an avowed morally depraved person, or is among those who turned their
back to prayer.
We have already ruled that "the one in debt –al gharim" should have
incurred such debt in that which is bound to displease Allah, the
Exalted, and that the "wayfarer – inbinis salil" should not have embarked
on un lawful travel. Yet, it is permissible to give them of zakat money,
even if they were or the people who took to sinning. Likewise, it is
permissible to give it to the recipients in the other categories.
iii. The recipient should not be among the dependents of the giver of
This is a general requirement for all the categories. It is not
permissible for the mukallaf to pay the zakat on his property to his
paternal/maternal parents, grandparents; neither is it permissible to pay
it to one's sons and daughters and their offspring; wife/wives through
permanent marriage cannot receive of zakat money.
The ban on giving those of zakat money is confined to their personal
needs only, because it falls within the responsibility of the mukallaf.
Any need, which falls outside this remit, i.e. the personal level, it is
permissible to cater for it with zakat money. For example, the mukallaf's
father may have a debt that may be paid off with zakat money, his son may
have a wife whose needs may be met from zakat money and so on.
This should be the case if the mukallaf was financially solvent and could
meet the expenses of members of his family. If not, he is entitled to pay
them his zakat. That said, it is preferable not to resort to this on the
basis of voluntary precaution.
35. In fixed-term marriage, the husband is not obligated to spend on his
wife. Thus, she is entitled to receive zakat money from him. The wife, be
she permanent or temporary, is allowed to pay her husband her zakat, even
if the husband may use it on maintaining her.
36. Those entitled to maintenance money should not be confined to that
source of support so long as they do not have enough to live of for a
whole year. Accordingly, they should not be deprived of zakat money from
other sources, particularly when the person responsible for making
available the funds for maintenance is hard pressed, or they may be
paying but not willingly, or they may not be paying at all. Should this
be the case, the person responsible for paying for maintenance should be
absolved of the responsibility of paying, but partially, i.e. for that
portion which is being met with zakat money.
This ruling applies to cases than that of a wife, who should not be paid
of zakat money, especially when her husband is well to do; moreover, it
should be the case, even by forcing him to pay for her maintenance,
should he withhold payment.
37. The Marji' should not feel reluctant to paying zakat to the father if
his son's property was mixed with other people's property, save when it's
known, in which case it should not be paid; the opposite is ture.
iv. The recipient must not be Hashimite, when the payer of zakat is a
non-Hashimite. This too is a general requirement in all the categories. A
Hashimite is he whose paternal lineage is traced to Hashim, one of the
forefathers of the Prophet (p.). This covers all Hashim's sons and their
sons till the Day of Judgment. Accordingly, an eligible Hashimite can
receive zakat paid by another Hashimite, but not from non-Hashimite.
This ruling applies only to zakat on property and zakatul fitr. Thus, it
is not harram for a Hashimite to receive sadaqah from a non-Hahimite.
Likewise, he can receive money of kaffarah, find, expiation, property
anonymous (majhoolil malik), sadaqah that became obligatory to pay as a
result of nadhr, and property left in a will for the poor. The Hashimite
can also make use of all public amenities and charitable institutions,
such bridges, schools, and hospitals, which were built with zakat money.
38. In an emergency, it is permissible for the Hashimite to take zakat
money. However, as a matter of obligatory precaution, it is essential to
define such an emergency by way of non-availability of sufficient funds
from other sources, such as Zakat and other alms he is allowed to
receive. Where possible, this has to be assessed on a day to day basis.
That is, he should not be paid more, unless where daily payment is not
forthcoming because of absence on travel or the sort.
39. Any one's claim that he is a Hashimite should not be taken at face
value. That is he should be vetted. The payer of zakat should not to be
absolved of the responsibility without proper background check into the