Who are the 8 recipients of zakat in islam? Where are the places where zakat can be given? Where can you give zakat in islam?
The people to whom zakāt can be given are stated in the Qur’an and they are listed as follows in surah al-Tawba, which was revealed in the 9th year of the Hijra, “Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the funds; for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.” The verse was revealed when some people who were fond of wealth coveted the collected zakāt and made unjust demands from the Prophet, and their behavior was condemned in the previous two verses. Thus, the public is prevented from using the zakāt fund as it wishes.
According to a narration from Abdullah Ibn Abbas (r. anhuma), when the Prophet (saw) sent Muadh ibn Jabal to Yemen, he ordered him as follows: “… teach them that Allah has made it obligatory for them to pay the zakāt from their property and it is to be taken from the wealthy among them and given to the poor.” This hadith is proof that zakāt will be taken from the rich Muslims by the Muslim government and spent on the poor. On the other hand, the Prophet gave Muadh b. Jabal the authority to rule according to his independent judgment on issues that were not found in the Qur’an, Sunnah, and these two sources. Considering that financial and economic autonomy was also given, it can be said that the Yemen region was given a federative status by the Messenger of Allah (saw).
Eight Classes Of People To Whom Zakāt Can Be Given
The rightful recipients of zakāt are eight categories of people as listed in the 60th verse of surah al-Tawba, which are the poor Muslims, the needy, those who work in the administration of zakāt, those whose hearts are wished to be warmed to Islam, slaves, debtors, those who strive in the way of Allah and the wayfarer.
1-2) The Poor And The Needy
These are the first two groups mentioned in the Qur’an. The poor (faqīr pl. fuqarā) is the person who even if he or she has goods that meet his or her basic needs such as house and household goods, his or her income does not meet his or her usual needs, and when his or her debts are deducted he has less than the niṣāb amount of wealth. A person whose income level does not meet his or her basic needs even though he or she works at a job is also included in this category.
A needy (miskīn pl. masākīn) is a person who has no income or property. When the meaning of “climbing a steep slope” is defined in the Qur’an, it is stated that it means “to feed a needy person (miskīn) covered in dust”. This expression indicates that a needy person is someone who is in extreme poverty and distress. Accordingly, the needy (miskīn) is needier than the poor (faqīr).
According to Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad from the Hanafis and Ibn al-Qasim from the Malikis, the poor and the needy refer to the same classes, and there is no difference between them.
According to the Shafiʿis and the Ḥanbalis, the poor (faqīr) is a person who does not have sufficient income and property to meet the needs of himself and his dependents. On the other hand, the needy (miskīn) is a person who can barely live with the income and goods he has.
According to Umar, the poor (faqīr) refers to the poor of the Muslims; while the needy (miskīn), on the other hand, refers to the poor of the non-Muslims. In fact, it is narrated that Umar asked the officer working at the state treasury to pay a salary to a poor Jew, and said that “the poor of the people of the book” was meant by “the poor (faqīr) people” in the verse stating the classes to whom zakāt can be given. However, none of the Muslim jurists agreed with this view, except for Ikrima, who was one of the jurists of the generation of the Successors, and Zufar from the Ḥanafis, rather the majority adopted the view that only voluntary charity can be given to the poor of non-Muslims.
The Ḥanafis took the “niṣāb” as the basis for the maximum amount of zakāt that can be given to the poor and the needy at once, while the majority of jurists took “kifāya amount (sufficient amount)” as their basis. According to the latter, a sufficient amount of zakāt can be given to the poor even if it exceeds the niṣāb amount.
According to the Shafiʿis, it is permissible to give zakāt in the amount enough to eliminate the poverty of the poor, to last his lifetime, and not to need zakāt again. According to the Malikis and the Ḥanbalis, zakāt may be in the amount sufficient to take care of the needs of the poor and needy for one year. This amount is determined according to the situation of the person, his social conditions, and his family.
3) Those Working In The Administration Of Zakat
These are the officials employed in the collection and distribution of zakāt funds. The word “ʿamil” in the verse literally refers to various meanings such as a worker, or a craftsman. As an Islamic legal term, it refers to the person appointed to collect the zakāt revenues and distribute them to the beneficiaries. This term is used in the hadiths to mean the administrator in general, the official who collects and distributes all kinds of state revenues and especially zakāt. Moreover, terms such as “ārif, āshir, jābī, amīn, hāzin, sāī, and muṣaddiq” are also used as its synonyms. The mention of “āmilīn” in the Qur’an as one of the eight categories of people that deserve a share in zakāt funds indicates that this duty can be performed for a fee. Accordingly, even if the worker is wealthy, he or she can get a fee for the labor.
It is also possible to hire specialized individuals or organizations for the zakāt collection in return for a certain percentage of the zakāt fund. Accordingly, a large social assistance institution such as zakāt will be able to run without imposing any financial burden on the Islamic state, and a significant part of the expenditures that the state should spend from its budget will be covered by this fund.
It is necessary for the zakāt officer to be just and to know the provisions regarding zakāt. These requirements are also applicable to the officials who collect tithes, experts, clerks, those who distribute zakāt, those who protect the collected goods, and the like.
4) Muallafa Al-Qulub
This category, which is mentioned as the fourth group in the above-mentioned verse, includes people whose hearts should be fond of Islam. The Prophet (saw) gave a share of the zakāt fund to some people who had newly converted to Islam during the conquest of Mecca. Among them were also those who had not yet converted to Islam. The purpose of giving zakāt to this class is to strengthen the faith of those whose faith is weak or to be safe from their harm or to guide them to good. Today, it is possible to pay some from this fund to prevent their harm to Islam, to ensure that they work in favor of Islam, or to direct international lobbying activities.
The Prophet (saw) gave shares from state revenues such as zakāt and fay’ and booty to people whose hearts were wanted to be warmed to Islam. Safwan ibn Umayya, Uyayna Ibn Ḥiṣn and al-Aqrā’ ibn Hābis were among them. He even issued for some of them documents stating that they could benefit from this fund. The owners of this document came to Abu Bakr (ra) after the death of the Prophet (saw) and asked for their share and Abu Bakr (ra) sent these people to Umar (ra) to get his opinion. Umar (ra) said to them: “The Prophet was giving you a share of zakāt to warm your hearts to Islam. Today, Allah has strengthened his religion. If you continue to be a Muslim, you can, otherwise, we will fight you.” Upon this reasoning of Umar, it has been claimed that zakāt was not given to this class during the period of the four caliphs, and even a consensus of the Companions was formed on this issue.
According to the Ḥanafi and Maliki jurists, after the death of the Prophet, the share of the muallafa al-qulūb from the zakāt revenues decreased. According to Imam Shafiʿi, this fund can be operated again if needed in times of trouble such as war conditions.
It cannot be thought that a Qur’anic provision could be abrogated or abolished by independent reasoning after the death of the Prophet. However, the practice was stopped during the caliphate of Abu Bakr, as the effective cause (ʿillah) of the verse’s ruling disappeared due to the strength of the Muslims and the weakening of the enemy. Later, if the conditions change and the effective cause existing during the time of the Prophet (saw) emerges, there will be no harm in giving a share of zakāt to the muallafa al-qulūb.
Zakāt is also given to those who want to save themselves from slavery and buy their freedom with money. The liberation of slaves by making use of the zakāt fund shows the importance Islam attaches to human freedom. At the time of the birth of Islam, slavery was widespread throughout the world. People were forcibly abducted and enslaved, made into slaves due to their debts, and the crimes that they had committed. Islam forbids all these forms of enslavement and commands that the captives taken in a just and legitimate war first be released in return for a ransom or free of charge. Only if the practice of enslaving prisoners of war exists internationally, does it authorizes the head of state to enslave the captured prisoners, in accordance with the principle of “reciprocity”. While the existence of this very limited permission for enslavement, the religion of Islam has recognized the right to a humane life for slaves and taken a series of measures to liberate them.
After deducting their debt, the people who do not have the niṣāb amount of property are included in this class. A person who has property or receivables from someone else but cannot receive them is also considered a debtor. In this way, it is more virtuous to give zakāt to a person who is in a difficult situation because of his debt, than to a poor person without debt. For in a way, the freedom of the debtor is restricted, and it becomes necessary to save him from this trouble.
Even if a person who borrows money for reasons such as saving someone else’s property or life or solving the resentment between two angry people is wealthy, she or he can benefit from being in the class of the debtors.
According to the majority of jurists, there are two types of debtors. The first is the one who borrows for his own needs. A person who is in debt for reasons such as living expenses for himself and his family members, housing, medical treatment expenses, and getting his child married falls into this group. The second is the person who borrows for the benefit of society. People who are under the burden of debt to find a solution to the problems between two hostile communities, who are in debt as a guarantor for someone else, or who get into debt while serving charitable works and are in trouble because of this, fall into this group.
According to what is narrated from Abu Said al-Khudri (ra), the Prophet (saw) said, “Zakāt is not permissible for a rich man except in five cases: One who is appointed to collect it, a warrior fighting in the cause of Allah, a rich man who buys it with his own money, a poor man who receives the zakāt and gives it as a gift to a rich man, and a debtor.”
The permissibility to give zakāt to a debtor for his own needs depends on the following conditions:
- a) This person does not have any property to pay his debts other than the niṣāb,
- b) Borrower must not be in debt due to committing a ḥarām such as alcohol, gambling, adultery or clearly acting in extravagance in his expenses,
- c) The payment of debt should be in due,
- d) The debt will be a real debt to be paid to a person or institution, and it will not be an unwanted debt such as the debt of zakāt or atonement.
Today when we go through an industrial and technological revolution, the biggest debts belong to the biggest capital owners. It is not possible to consider the owners of debts whose maturities can extend up to twenty years to be poor as long as there are trade goods, movable and immovable securities, and industrial facilities corresponding to these debts. This is because, when necessary, debts are liquidated by selling such properties, which are out of basic needs. For this reason, economic values that are kept for the payment of a debt or shown as a warrant for debt are not subject to zakāt. For instance, if a person has ten kg of gold bullion worth of trade goods over which one year has passed, but he owes twelve kg of gold bullion because his business has been going through hard times, and he does not have any other property in return for this debt, even if this person gives all his trade goods to pay his debts, he will still be faced with a debt worth two kg of gold bullions. Therefore, this person can be supported from the zakāt fund.
If a person who has been in debt for committing sins or for bad purposes later regrets and repents, he may also be given a share of the zakāt fund.
7) Those Who Are In The Way Of Allah
The phrase “fi sabilillāh”, which means “in the way of Allah”, has been used in two different senses in Islamic terminology. First, it means actually fighting to glorify Islam. Accordingly, zakāt is given to mujahids who take part in a battle. In fact, according to Imam Shafiʿi and Imam Malik, there is no distinction between the rich and the poor among those who participated in a war. This is because even if the warriors are wealthy in their homelands; they are far away from their own property in a war zone.
The second meaning of “fi sabilillāh” is any good deed done in accordance with the consent of Allah and to approach Him. Accordingly, individuals and institutions that work for the sake of Allah Almighty and perform works that have the quality of charity and obedience will be eligible to receive a share from the zakāt fund.
Due to this different meaning, while some jurists said that zakāt can only be given to those who participate in the war, those who perform major and minor pilgrimages, or those who try to acquire knowledge, some jurists stated that money could be allocated from this fund for charity works such as the construction of mosques, schools, hospitals, and bridges. As a matter of fact, Anas and Ḥasan al-Baṣrī are of the opinion, that zakāt can be given to places that are considered charity, such as the construction of bridges and roads.
The evidence showing that the worship of pilgrimage falls within the scope of “fi sabilillāh” is as follows: According to a narration from Ibn Abbas (r. anhuma), a man donated his camel to the path of Allah, and his wife wanted to perform the pilgrimage. The Prophet (saw) said to the woman, “Perform pilgrimage on that camel because pilgrimage is considered “fi sabilillāh (in the way of Allah).’” However, zakāt cannot be given for supererogatory pilgrimage because there is flexibility in the application of supererogatory acts.
On the other hand, the great Ḥanafi jurist al-Kasanī (d. 587/1191) in his work al-Badāyī interpreted the term “fi sabilillāh (in the way of Allah)” as “all works that bring the person closer to Allah”. Therefore, everyone who is on the path of obedience to Allah Almighty and goodness falls into this category when they are in need. In this way, those who strive to spread the message of Islam and work for charitable purposes can be supported by the zakāt fund. Some Ḥanafis took the expression “in the way of Allah” to mean “acquiring knowledge”. A person who is learning, even if he is wealthy, falls into this category.
Imam Malik said that Allah’s ways are many. However, I don’t know if there is a difference of opinion on understanding the meaning of the expression “in the way of Allah” as “fighting in the way of Allah”.
A person who travels for good and beneficial work and cannot reach his destination without getting financial support is included in this class. Examples include pilgrimage, war, recommended visits, or journeys done to conduct trade.
Even if such a person is wealthy in his homeland, if he becomes needy during the journey, he can be assisted by a zakāt fund to reach his destination. However, it is better for such a traveler, if possible, to borrow money instead of receiving zakāt.
A person who becomes needy by losing his property or not being able to get his other receivables in his hometown is like a traveler. He can receive zakāt as much as he or she needs, then when she or he gets his property back, he or she can keep the remaining amount of the zakāt that she or he has received. This does not have to be returned as charity to other people.
A person can give his zakāt to any of the above-mentioned classes, as well as distribute it to two, three, or all of them. This is because the above-mentioned verse made zakāt explicit only to these eight categories, but did not specify a preference among these classes.
On the other hand, it is also permissible to give the zakāt that does not reach the niṣāb amount to a single person among the above-mentioned classes. This is because making the word “al-fuqarā (the poor)” in the verse definite by attaching the prefix “alif lam (definite article)” before it indicates a genus in the metaphorical sense. Thus, giving to one person from that genus is like giving to the genus itself. Moreover, if the prefix “alif lam” is taken in the sense of scope (istighrāq), which is its actual meaning, it covers the whole genus. In this case, every poor person in a town has a right to zakāt. This creates great difficulties in practice and is not reasonable.
According to the Shafiʿis, zakāt should be spent on eight classes in a town. The evidence they rely on: The reason is that the Qur’anic verse “Zakāt is for the poor and the needy…”, allocates zakāt to these classes by the letter lām meaning the transfer of ownership, and includes all of these classes by the conjunction letter wāw. If zakāt is distributed by the Muslim government, it should be divided among these eight classes. One of them is the officers who work in the administration of zakāt. If the owner of the zakāt property or his representative distributes the zakāt, not the state, then there is no share in the zakāt for the officers. It is mustaḥab to distribute zakāt to all classes as much as possible. It is not appropriate to distribute zakāt in the form of giving it to at least three people from each class. Some of the Shafiʿis considered it permissible to give zakāt al-fiṭr to three poor or needy people.
Today, it is common to find four of these eight classes. These are the poor, the needy, the debtors, and travelers.
According to the majority of mujtahids of the four schools, it is not permissible to give zakāt to anyone other than the categories that Allah has mentioned in the Qur’an. That is why giving the zakāt for the purposes of acts of worship that do not transfer the ownership of the property to the other party, such as building mosques, building roads, bridges, fountains, opening river channels, shrouding the dead, paying the debt of the deceased, building walls and castles, preparing war materials, building warships, and buying weapons, is not permissible. It is not permissible either to spend it on ways that will bring the person closer to Allah because, the Arabic word “innamā” mentioned in the verse “Zakāt is for the poor and the needy…” means “ḥaṣr (limitation) and ithbāt (affirmation)”. In other words, it is to make what is mentioned affirmed and to exclude the rest from the ruling. Therefore, it is not permissible to give zakāt to any classes other than these categories. For in such cases, there is the question of tamlik, that is, making someone own the zakāt property, or transferring the zakāt property to the other party’s ownership.
 Al-Tawba, 9: 60. See al-Tawba, 9: 58, 59. Al-Bukhari, Zakāt, 1; Muslim, İman, 29; Abū Dawūd, Zakāh, 5; al-Nasā’ī, Zakāt, 46; Ibn Maja, Zakāt, 1;Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, I, 233. See al-Shafiʿi, Umm, Egypt, 1329. H. VII, 273; Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, V, 230, 236, 242. See al-Kāsānī, ibid, II, 43-46; Ibn al-Humām, ibid, II, 14-20; Ibn Abidīn, ibid, II, 79-84; Ibn Rushd (Averroes), ibid, I, 266-269; Ibn Qudāmah, ibid, II, 665 ff.; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 866 ff. See al-Balad, 90:11, 14, 16. Abū Yusuf, Kharāj, p. 136. See Jaṣṣāṣ, Aḥkām al-Qur’ān, III, 124; al-Shawkanī, Nayl al-Awṭār, IV, 166. Ibn Rushd (Averroes), ibid, I, 233; Döndüren, Delilleriyle İslam Hukuku, p. 42, 43; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 871, 872. Muḥammad, 47: 4. Ibn Maja, Zakāt, I, 590. Al-Mawṣilī, Ikhtiyār, I, 119; Ibn Qudāmah, al-Mughnī, II, 527. Komisyon, İlmihal, I, 488. Abū Dawūd, Manāsik, 79; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 874. Al-Kāsānī, ibid, II, 45. Al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 876. Al-Kāsānī, ibid, II, 46; Ibn al-Humām, ibid, II, 14; al-Maydanī, ibid, I, 156; Ibn Abidīn, ibid, I, 84; Ibn Rushd(Averroes), ibid, I, 267; Ibn Qudāmah, ibid, II, 668. Al-Shirazī, Muhadhdhab, I, 170 ff.; al-Shirbinī, Mughni al-Muḥtāj, III, 106 ff.; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 867, 868. See al-Kāsānī, ibid, II, 45; Ibn Abidīn, ibid, II, 81, 83, 85; al-Shirazī, ibid, I, 170-173; Ibn Qudāmah, ibid, II, 667; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 875.
Source: Basic Islamic Principles (ilmiḥal) According to the Four Sunni Schools With Evidence From The Sources of Islamic Law, Prof. Hamdi Döndüren, Erkam Publications