Fruits for the Week

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 Eight categories of people, according to the Qur’an, are entitled to receive zakah:

  1. Fuqara’ (the poor)

Fuqara’ are those who do have some money but not sufficient to meet their essential needs. They live under great hardship and difficulties but do not beg from anybody. Fuqara’ have been so defined by Zuhri, Abu Hanifah, Abdullah Ibn Abbas, Hasan Basri and many other eminent jurists.

  1. Masakin (the destitute and needy)

Masakin are totally destitute, they have nothing to meet their needs with. Umar also includes among them those are fit to works but are employed.

  1. ‘Amilina alaiha (who administer zakah)

People who are appointed by an Islamic government to collect zakah will be paid their salaries from zakah funds.

  1. Mu’allafatul qulub (who need to be reconciled)

These are the people who require to be given money to seek their support for Islam or to prevent them from opposition. Muslim converts are also included in this category. Those of them who may lose their jobs or homes upon becoming Muslims deserve every help, but even wealthy converts may be given zakah to reconcile them by showing at first hand the caring nature of Islam.    

After the Battle of Hunayn, the Prophet (saw) gave so much of the booty to Muslim converts that some Ansar complained about it. He replied: “These people have just entered Islam after giving up kufr, and I want to please their hearts.” On this basis, Zuhri has defined muallafatul qulub thus: “Any Christian or Jew or non-Muslim who has entered Islam, though he may be a wealthy man.”

  1. Fir-Riqab (freeing from bondage)

A slave who wants to free himself from slavery should be given zakah so that he can pay the necessary money to his master. Today, as slavery no longer exists, this category can be extended, in my opinion, to other such people like those who have been imprisoned for their inability to pay fines imposed upon them, they can be helped with zakah money to secure their release.

  1. Al-Gharimin (overburdened debtors)

People who are so overburdened with debt that they cannot pay it on their own. But zakah should not be given to debtors whose wealth exceeds their debts. It can be given to people whose debts are so large that, after paying them off, their remaining wealth falls below the minimum amount on which zakah is levy-able. Some jurists have said that it is undesirable to give zakah to people who have fallen into debt due to extravagant habits, because the expectation of continuing help from zakah will encourage them to continue their extravagance.

  1. Fi sabilillah (in the way of Allah)

This is a general term used for all good deeds. But, in particular, it means giving help to a struggle for making Islamic supreme on earth. The Prophet (saw) once said that it was not normally permissible for a wealthy person to take zakah but if such a person required help for the sake of jihad, he should be given.

  1. Ibnus-Sabil (travelers)

A traveler may have any amount of wealth in his home, but if he is in need of money while traveling, he may be given zakah.

Other important principles

  1. All schools of law are agreed that parents and children cannot give zakah to each other, nor can husbands and wives. A distant relative is beyond doubt entitled to it, in fact more entitled than others, though Auza’i says: “Do not go about searching your own relatives after taking out zakah.
  2. Only Muslims are entitled to receive zakah. The definition of zakah, as given in Hadith is: “It will be taken from the wealthy among you and distributed to the poor among you.” (Bukhari and Muslim). Non-Muslims, however, have a share in all other general charities, or social security payments, where it is wrong to discriminate against them.
  3. Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad say that the zakah raised in locality should be spent on the poor inhabitants of the same locality. It is not proper to send zakah from one locality to another unless there is no one entitled to receive it, or some calamity such as flood or famine necessitates urgent dispatch. But this does not mean that sending zakah from one place to another is prohibited.

by Maulana Abul A’la Mawdudi