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THE RECIPIENTS OF ZAKÂH

According to Islamic Law, the basic lawful material necessities of life are: sufficiency in food, clothing, shelter, basic education and medical care. These are the minimum standards of material well being recognized by Islam. Sufficiency in food, clothing and shelter constitute the first stage of what, in Islamic terminology, is called “GHINA” i.e. the state in which one can dispense with material help from others. Until a Muslim has reached this stage, he remains a rightful claimant to Zakâh.

  1. The Poor of Limited Means (Al-Fuqarâ)
  2. These include all Muslims whose means are insufficient to adequately provide for the basic lawful material necessities of life, in spite of their trying their best or because of some physical disability.

  3. The Poor / Destitute (Al-Masâkin)
  4. These include all Muslim whose means are totally lacking or are so deficient as to deny them the basic lawful necessities of life in spite of their best efforts or due to some physical disability.

  5. The Zakâh Officials (Al-Âmilûn)
  6. As a principle, all authorized Zakâh officials are entitled to receive remuneration payable out of the Zakâh funds. It is generally accepted that such persons comprise:

    • The collectors (Al-Su-'ât), whose duty it is to collect the Zakâh dues.
    • The distributors (Al-Qassâmûn), whose duty it is to apportion the Zakâh funds.
    • The custodians (Al-Hâfizûn), whose duty it is to keep safe the Zakâh funds. The custodians include; the treasurer, the caretakers of Zakâh granaries and storehouses, the caretakers of the domestic animals levied as Zakâh.
    • The measurers (Al-Kayyâlûn), whose duty it is to measure, or weigh, the cereals and other kinds of agricultural produce levied as Zakâh.
    • The scribes or clerks (Al-Kâtibûn), whose duty it is to keep the Zakâh files and records.
    • The accountants (Al-Hâsibûn), whose duty it is to keep the Zakâh revenue and expenditure
    • The officers in charge (Ru-asâ Al-Âmilîn), whose duty it is to direct and manage the various Zakâh centres.

    The Prophet (SAW) laid special stress on the exalted status of those who devote their services to the furtherance of the cause of Zakâh:

    It is related on the authority of Rafia Ibn Khadij, who said: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: In truth, the Zakâh official is like unto him who fights in the Way of Allah, until he returns to his own home! (Imam Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi)

    It is related on the authority of Rafia Ibn Khadij, who said: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: In truth, the Zakâh official is like unto him who fights in the Way of Allah, until he returns to his own home! (Imam Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi)

    Thus to serve the cause of Zakâh must never be considered in the light of a lucrative career. Such service is, in itself, a pious act and must be performed with a spirit and in a manner befitting the nature of the task. Indeed it was in perfect harmony with the spirit and the letter of verse 6 Surah 4 of the Qur'an that the second Caliph 'Umar Ibn al-Khattâb declared to the people upon assuming office:

    “Verily my right on your wealth is only that of a guardian of an orphan. If I am well-to-do, I shall abstain, and if I am in straitened circumstances, I shall take therefrom what is lawful (i.e. a living wage).”

  7. Those Whose Hearts Are Reconciled (to Islam) (Al-Mu-allafati Qulubuhum)
  8. These are new converts to Islam. The Qur'an included new converts in the category of lawful beneficiaries of Zakâh if their impoverished condition justifies such provision and not at all as a boon for having embraced the Islamic faith.

  9. The Slaves And Captives (Al-Riqâb)
  10. One of the paramount principles set forth in the Qur'an is that the Muslim, the “servant of Allah” may never live in bondage to any created power. Thus, the possibility of a Muslim remaining or becoming the legal property of another human being is not only abhorrent to, but definitely not tolerated by Islam. Indeed, the Qur'anic precept, which dedicates a portion of the Zakâh funds to the emancipation of slaves, faithfully reflects this principle.

  11. The Debtors (Al-Ghârimûn)
  12. All debtors who find themselves unable to repay their debts without suffering undue distress or destitution, or who are absolutely unable to do so being devoid of all means of subsistence, may lawfully seek relief from their burden through the agency of Zakâh. As laid down by the law, the circumstances which entitle a debtor to avail himself/herself of Zakâh funds are:

    • the debt in question must be one incurred for a perfectly lawful purpose, whether the purpose served be purely personal or altruistic.
    • before availing himself/herself of Zakâh funds, the debtor must make every possible effort to discharge the debt by his/her own lawful means.
  13. For The Cause Of Allah (Fi-Sabil-Allah)
  14. Both Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Abu Yusuf understand the “Way of Allah” as specifically meaning “Al-Ghazwa” i.e. lawful warfare for the defence of Islam and of the Muslim peoples and territories. Hence, these two eminent jurists hold that Zakâh may be given to a fighter (Al-Ghazi), but only on condition that he be poor. Other jurists interpret the term “Ghani” in the sense of materially well-to-do and maintain the Zakâh may be given to a fighter even if he is wealthy in terms of the following hadith:

    Abd'ur-Razzâq has related on the authority of Ma'amar, (who said) on the authority of Zabd bin Islam (who said) on the authority of Ata bin Yasâr, (who said) on the authority of Abu Sa-id al-Khudri, who said: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “The Zakâh is unlawful for one who is self sufficient, except in five cases: if a person be a Zakâh official or a fighter in the Way of Allah; or if a person who is self-sufficient purchases it with his wealth; or if a poor deserving beneficiary gives thereof as a personal gift to a person who is self-sufficient, or in the case of a debtor.” (Abu Dawud)

    More in keeping with the true spirit of Islam is the widely accepted view that “The Way of Allah” includes all activities undertaken solely for the service of Islam and that which accrues to the greater glory and benefit of the Muslim people.

  15. The Wayfarer (Ibnus Sabîl)
  16. The wayfarer (the traveller who is not poor, but finds himself stranded abroad without funds). Wayfarer means any traveller who finds himself in financial difficulties. Example:

    • A person away from home whose money is lost or stolen, and who thus finds himself penniless in a country where he is unknown.
    • A person on whom Haj was obligatory and he sets out on pilgrimage with sufficient money to cover all his expenses, but through unforeseen and unexpected increases in the cost of commodities, fares, etc. or through any other reason, he finds his funds exhausted, and he does not now possess money even for his return fare.

    Zakâh could be given to people who find themselves in such temporary plights. given to a fighter (Al-Ghazi), but only on condition that he be poor. Other jurists interpret the term “Ghani” in the sense of materially well-to-do and maintain the Zakâh may be given to a fighter even if he is wealthy in terms of the following hadith:

    Abd'ur-Razzâq has related on the authority of Ma'amar, (who said) on the authority of Zabd bin Islam (who said) on the authority of Ata bin Yasâr, (who said) on the authority of Abu Sa-id al-Khudri, who said: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “The Zakâh is unlawful for one who is self sufficient, except in five cases: if a person be a Zakâh official or a fighter in the Way of Allah; or if a person who is self-sufficient purchases it with his wealth; or if a poor deserving beneficiary gives thereof as a personal gift to a person who is self-sufficient, or in the case of a debtor.” (Abu Dawud)

    More in keeping with the true spirit of Islam is the widely accepted view that “The Way of Allah” includes all activities undertaken solely for the service of Islam and that which accrues to the greater glory and benefit of the Muslim people.

  17. The Wayfarer (Ibnus Sabîl)
  18. The wayfarer (the traveller who is not poor, but finds himself stranded abroad without funds). Wayfarer means any traveller who finds himself in financial difficulties. Example:

    • A person away from home whose money is lost or stolen, and who thus finds himself penniless in a country where he is unknown.
    • A person on whom Haj was obligatory and he sets out on pilgrimage with sufficient money to cover all his expenses, but through unforeseen and unexpected increases in the cost of commodities, fares, etc. or through any other reason, he finds his funds exhausted, and he does not now possess money even for his return fare.

    Zakâh could be given to people who find themselves in such temporary plights.