To whom zakat can be given in islam?
Concerning the matter of to whom or where zakat can be given is ordered in the Qur’an:
“The offerings given for the sake of God are [meant]only for the poor and the needy, and those who are in charge thereof, and those whose hearts are to be won over, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage, and [for]those who are over burdened with debts, and [for every struggle]in God’s cause, and [for]the wayfarer: [this is]an ordinance from God – and God is all-knowing, wise.”
This verse points out the necessity to distribute zakat among eight classes of people. The eight classes of people mentioned in this verse are partners in zakat. According to the Shafii School, if it is possible to find people from each one of these categories, the collected zakat should be given to three people from each one of these categories. According to the Hanafi, the Maliki and the Hanbali Schools, it is not necessary to distribute zakat equally among these eight classes. It is permissible to give it to only one of the eight classes. According to the latter jurists, it is permissible to give all of the zakat to one person or distribute it among a couple of eligible recipients.
According to this verse, the following are the people to whom zakat can be given:
- The Poor: These are people, who do not have enough property and earning to maintain their lives. Such people lack sufficient food, clothes, and dwelling for themselves and they may not have any relatives that can provide them with a livelihood.
- The Needy: These are people, who do not have enough wealth or earning to take care of their necessities, or their incomes do not meet their expenses. The old who need care, the ill who do not have enough money for their surgery, the disabled who do not have enough money to buy wheelchair, and the needy are considered in this category.
One should give the poor and the needy enough to meet their needs. If they are strong enough to work, they can be given the necessary zakat so that they can buy tools and merchandise. It is permissible to give money out of the zakat to the person who would like to get married but do not have enough money to pay the dowry, So the zakat is given in order to help him get married. It is even permissible to give zakat to a poor person in order to help him buy a house to save him from the payment of rent.
- Those employed to collect zakat: They are zakat collectors appointed by the Muslim state to fulfill every task concerning the collection and distribution of zakat. It is stated that the Muslim state pays their salary out of zakat, but is not allowed to give them a certain amount out of zakat that they have collected.
- To those whose hearts are to be won over: (muallafat al-qulub): They are divided into four groups:
- a) Newly converted Muslims whose faith is weak and who are given zakat in order to strengthen their faith.
- b) Muslim converts who hold positions of honor among their people such that, by giving them zakat, it is hoped that other non-Muslims will embrace Islam as well. In fact, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) gave an amount out of the zakat to Abu Sufyan b. Harb, Zibrikan b. Badr, Adi b. Hatim and others.
- c) Muslims whose faith is strong and who, if they receive zakat, it is hoped will protect the Muslim community from harm by non-Muslims who are under their influence, and
- d) Those who can protect the Muslim community from harm that might be done to them by those who prevent others from paying zakat.
The reason to give this group an amount out of the zakat is to strengthen the faith of those whose faith is weak and to prevent the evil of some others. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) gave shares from zakat to such people when he conquered Mecca.
Muslims can give zakat to the last three groups, when Muslims are not very strong militarily. In fact, ‘Umar (r.a.) did not give zakat to muallafat al-qulub. He argued that Muslims had become strong enough and did not need such people any more.
- Slaves (Captives): One may give his zakat to a Muslim slave to help him gain his freedom. Muslim slaves can be given an amount from the zakat when they make contracts of manumission with their masters, but they do not have enough money pay the installments entailed by their debts of manumission in order to free themselves from slavery. According to some scholars, Muslim captives caught by the enemy can be considered as part of this group.
- Those who are over burdened with debts: These are people who cannot pay their debts at their due dates. They are divided into the following three groups:
- a) Those who went into debt for their own personal benefit, in order to spend the money either on some legitimate pursuit, or on an illegitimate pursuit of which they have repented.
- b) Those who are in debt due to having underwritten someone else with the latter’s permission and who, together with the underwritten party, are impoverished.
- c) Those who have gone into debt in order to bring about reconciliation among parties in dispute, and who are to be given zakat even if they themselves are wealthy.
- Those who are struggling in Allah’s cause: They are the Muslim combatants and should be given what they need to cover the expenses of those they support, clothing, and the value of a weapon and a horse. Even if they are wealthy, such fighters are to be provided with living quarters and with whatever they need in order to make the journey to and from the battlefield.
Those who would like to go to pilgrimage but do not have enough money to perform the pilgrimage are also considered to be a part of this group.
According to some Muslim jurists, a share can be separated for those who travel to other countries to deliver the message of Islam and to invite people to Islam as well as to the poor students who study for the sake of Allah.
- Travelers (the wayfarer): These are the people whose money runs out of during their journey and cannot return to their hometowns. Those who are on a journey for a legitimate purpose are to be given sufficient zakat to enable them to reach their destination. Those who leave and migrate to another country for the sake of Allah in order to save their chastity, religion, and faith are also considered in this group.
 Al-Tawba, 9: 60.