Not every person who extends his hand for Zakah is Deserving of it

Zakah_recipient

Not every person who extends his hand for Zakah is deserving of it, because there are those among mankind who extend their hands for money while they are wealthy. This type of person will come on the Day of Resurrection while his face will not have a bit of flesh on it, [Reported by Muslim in the Book of Zakah, in the Chapter: The Disapproval of Begging From the People (1040)] may Allaah protect us from that. He will come on the Day of Resurrection, on the Day when the witnesses will stand and the bones of his face will be visible, may Allaah protect us from that, and the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said:

“He who begs the riches of others to increase his own wealth is asking only for burning coals (in the Hereafter), so let him ask a little or much.” [Reported by Muslim in the Book of Zakah, in the Chapter: The Disapproval of Begging From the People ( 1041 )]

I would like to take this opportunity to warn those people who ask people in an importune manner when they are in possession of wealth. Indeed, I warn everyone who accepts Zakah when he is not entitled to receive it. I say to him: If you took Zakah to which you are not entitled, you are only consuming ill-gotten gains, may Allaah protect us from that, and a person should fear Allaah, for the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said:

“Whoever tries to make himself self-sufficient, Allaah will make him self-sufficient; and whoever abstains from asking others, Allaah will make him content” [Reported by Al-Bukhari in the Book of Zakah, in the Chapter: There is no Obligation to Give Charity Except Upon One Who is Wealthy (1427); and by Muslim in the Book of Zakah, in the Chapter: The Virtue of Contentment and Patience (1053).]

But if a man extends his hand to you, and you believe it is most likely that he is entitled to it, and you gave him, then the Zakah will be counted, and you will have discharged your obligation, even if it became apparent after that that he was not entitled to it. There is no need to think that you have to pay the Zakah again (to someone else).

The evidence for this is the story of the man who gave money in charity, and he gave charity first to a prostitute and the people began to talk, saying:

“Have you given money tonight to a prostitute?” He said: “All praise and thanks are to Allaah.”

Then he gave charity on the second night and it fell into the hands of a thief and the people began to talk, saying: “Have you given money tonight to a thief?”

Then he gave charity on the third night to a rich man and the people began to talk, saying: “Have you given money tonight to a rich man?” He said: “All praise and thanks are to Allaah for the prostitute, the thief and the rich man.”

Then it was said to him (by an angel):

“Your charity has been accepted; as for the prostitute, haply (i.e perhaps) she may content herself with what you have given her and it may prevent her from committing illegal sexual intercourse, while as for the thief, haply he may content himself with what you have given him and he may refrain from stealing, while as for the rich man, haply, he may reflect and give charity.” [Reported by Al-Bukhari in the Book of Zakah, in the Chapter: If One Unwittingly Gave Charity to a Rich Person ( 1421 ); and by Muslim in the Book of Zakah, in the Chapter: Confirmation of the Reward of One Who Gives Charity, Even if the Charity Fell into the Hands of One Who is not Entitled to it (1022).]

So, my brother, look at the honest intention, what is its effect: Therefore, if you gave the person who asked you, and then it became apparent that he was wealthy and you had given him something, believing that he was poor, it is not necessary for you to repay the Zakah.

Those who are entitled to receive the Zakah

The people entitled to Zakah are those places we can direct our Zakah to. Allaah took charge of explaining for Himself what these places are, saying:

“The charity (Zakah) is only for the poor, the needy, those employed to collect (the Zakah), those whose hearts will be inclined (towards Islam, by giving them Zakah), for slaves, for those in debt, for (Jihaad in) the Cause of Allaah, and for the wayfarer (i.e. destitute traveler). It is an obligation imposed by Allaah, and Allaah is the All-Knower, the All-Wise.” [Surah At-Tawbah: 60]

1. The Poor (Fuqaraa): They are those who are not able to support themselves with sufficient means, except for very little, which is less than half (a year). So if a person cannot find that which will support himself and his family for at least half a year, he is considered poor (faqeer) and he should be given what will suffice him and his family for a year.

2. The Needy (Masaakeen): They are those who are able to support themselves with sufficient means for half of the year or more, but not enough for the entire year. So they should receive support that will complete the year for them. If a person does not have any cash on him, but yet has some other source of income, such as a profession, a salary or investment profits that will support him financially, he should not be given Zakah. This is based on the Prophet’s statement: “There is no share in it (i.e. the Zakah) for a wealthy person or for a strong able-bodied person who can earn a living.”

3. Those employed to collect the Zakah: They are the ones put in charge by the ruler of a country to collect the Zakah from those who owe it, distribute it to those who are entitled to it, guard the funds and all other types of duties involved with the supervision of Zakah. So they should be given a portion of the Zakah in accordance with the work they put in, even if they may already be wealthy.

4. Those whose hearts will be inclined: This refers to tribal and clan leaders, who do not have strong Faith. They should be given Zakah so as to strengthen their Faith, which will make them callers to Islam and good role models. But what if a person is weak in his Islam, and he is not from the leaders who are followed and obeyed, but rather from the common folk, should he be given some Zakah in order to strengthen his Faith?

Some scholars hold that it should be given to him since benefiting one’s religion is better than benefiting one’s body. Look at the example of a poor person. He is given Zakah in order to nourish his body. So nourishing someone’s heart with Faith is greater and of more benefit. However some scholars hold that he should not be given the Zakah since the benefit of strengthening his Faith is a personal benefit that is specific to him alone.

5. Slaves: What falls under this is buying slaves using Zakah funds in order to free them, as well as assisting in the liberation of Muslim war captives.

6. Those in debt: They are the ones who owe debts. This is on the condition that they do not possess that which will enable them to remove their debts. So these people should be given enough (Zakah) that will relieve them of their debt, whether it is a small or large amount, even if they may be wealthy due to their livelihood. So in the case where there is a man who has some income that is enough for the livelihood of himself and his family, but he has some debt that he cannot repay, he may be given sufficient Zakah that will remove his debt from him. However, it is not permissible for a person who is owed money by a poor person to cancel that person’s debt, intending to give his share of Zakah by that.

The scholars have differed regarding the case where the one in debt is someone’s father or son. Can he be given Zakah in order to remove his debt? The correct opinion is that it is permissible. It is permissible for a person who owes Zakah to go to the creditor (person owed the debt) and pay him back the loan of the indebted without the latter being aware of it. This is on the condition that the person owing Zakah knows that the indebted one is unable to repay his debt.

7. In the Cause of Allaah: This refers to Jihaad in the Cause of Allaah. So those who fight in Jihaad should be given a portion of the Zakah that will suffice them for their Jihaad and enable them to buy the necessary tools for Jihaad in the Cause of Allaah.

What also falls under “the Cause of Allaah” is religious knowledge. So a student of Islamic knowledge should be given that which will enable him to seek knowledge, such as books and so on. This is unless he already has money of his own that will enable him to achieve that.

8. The Wayfarer: This refers to a traveler that has been cut off from his journey. So he should be given enough Zakah that will enable him to return to his homeland.

These are the people who are entitled to receive Zakah, the ones whom Allaah has mentioned in His Book and informed us that this is an obligation that He mandated, which stems from His knowledge and wisdom. And Allaah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

It is not permissible to direct the Zakah to any other place, such as towards building masaajid or fixing roads. This is because Allaah has told us those who are entitled to receive the Zakah for the purpose of limiting them to just those mentioned. So this limitation indicates that we are to negate all other potential recipients that due not fall under this limitation.

If we were to reflect on those individuals that we may give Zakah to, we would come to realize that among them are those who are in need of the Zakah for personal use as well as those who are in need of it for the Muslims generally. So by this, we can see the extent of wisdom behind the requirement of Zakah. And we would come to know that the wisdom behind Zakah is to build a complete and upright society, as best as possible. And that Islam does not disregard money or the benefits that can be generated from wealth, nor does it leave greedy and stingy souls to go about freely an unchecked with their stinginess and vain desires. On the contrary, it is the greatest guiding force towards the good and betterment of nations. And all praise is due to Allaah, Lord of the universe.

Source:

  • Fatawa Arkanul-Islam – Islamic Verdicts on the Pillars of Islam (Volume Two) – Prayer, Zakah, Fasting, Hajj
  • Fusool fis-Siyaam wat-Taraaweeh waz-Zakaat [E-Book]

By: Honorable Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-Uthaymeen

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