The Disposal of ZakÁt
1942.ZakÁt may be given to eight types of people:
1. A poor person (faqÐr), and he is defined as a person who does not possess his own expenses for one year and that of his dependants. Therefore, a person who owns a trade, property or capital with which he can pay for a year’s expenses is not a poor person.
2. A needy person(miskÐn), and he is a person whose living conditions are worse than that of apoor person.
3. A person who has been appointed by the Imam (Peace be upon him) or his representative to collect and store zakÁt, maintain its accounts, and deliver it to the Imam (Peace be upon him), his representative or the poor.
4. Muslims who have testified to the oneness of Allah and the prophethood of the holy prophet (May Allah’s Blessings be upon him and his progeny), but do not have firm faith in Islam, with the purpose of strengthening their faith by giving zakÁt to them. However, in the event that the poor are present in the area, and the matter revolves between giving it to a poor person or to such persons, then the obligatory precaution is that it should be given to the poor persons. This precaution should also be observed with respect to the seventh case.
5. To buy a Muslim slave who is undergoing hardship and to free him. Similarly, zakÁt may be spent on buying a slave and freeing him, even though he may not be undergoing hardship, in the event that no zakÁt deserving person can be located.
6. A debtor who is unable to repay his debt, given that he has not spent it in a sinful manner.
7. In the way of Allah, referring to acts of charity which can be performed with the intention of attaining proximity to Allah. Obligatory precaution dictates that they should be acts which are of benefit to the general public, such as constructing mosques, religious schools, hospitals, seniors housing and any similar projects.
8. A traveler who is stranded.
The rulings pertaining to each of these cases will be elaborated in subsequent articles.
1943.The obligatory precaution is that a poor or needy person should not take more than his year’s expenses and that of his dependants from the zakÁt. If he possesses some fund or owns some property, he should only take the balance of what he needs to meet one year’s expenses for himself and his dependants.
1944.If a person possessed enough prperty that meets his year’s expenses, and spent some of it, then doubted as to whether the remaining amount is sufficient to meet his year’s expenses or not, he may not partake of zakÁt.
1945. Anartisan, an owner, or a businessman whose income is less than his year’s expenses, may take zakÁt to meet his shortfall, and it is not necessary for him to sell his tools or property, or utilize his capital to meet his expenses.
1946. If a poor person who does not have enough to pay for the year’s expenses for himself and his dependants, owns a house in which he lives, or owns a means of transportation, he may still partake of zakÁt if he is unable to lead his life without them, or is unable to upholding his dignity without them. The same applies to household furniture, dishes, summer and winter clothing, and other items which are necessary. Hence, if a poor person who does not possess these items develops a need for them, he may use zakÁt to buy them.
1947. If it is not difficult for a poor person to learn a trade, he must learn it, and should not live his life off zakÁt. However, he may partake of zakÁtfor as long as he is engaged in learning the trade.
1948. If a person who was previously poor, states that he is (currently) poor, and one doubts whether he is still afflicted with poverty or not, he may still give zakÁtto him even if he does not attain satisfaction in his statement. As for a person for whom it is not known whether he was poor or not, and he states that he is poor, obligatory precaution dictates that one cannot give zakÁtto him unless he attains certainty or satisfaction in his statement.
1949. If a person claims to be poor, but was not previously poor, one may not give zakÁtto him if he does not attain satisfaction in his claim.
1950. If a person who must pay zakÁtis owed by a poor person, he may count the amount that he is owed towards his zakÁt. However, if he knows that the money that he is owed was spent in a sinful manner, he may not count it towards the zakÁtthat is given to repay adebt.
1951.If a poor person dies and his estate is insufficient for paying off his debts, one may count the amount that he is owed by the poor person towards his zakÁt. However, if he knows that the money that he is owed was spent in a sinful manner, he may not count it towards the zakÁtthat is given to repay a debt.
If the estate of a deceased person is equivalent to his debts, but the inheritors fail to pay off his debt, or one is unable to reclaim the debt for any other reason, based on obligatory precaution he should not count the amount that he is owed towards his zakÁt.
1952.If one gives an item to a poor person with the intention of zakÁt, he does not have to disclose to him that it is zakÁt. In fact, if the poor person is embarrassed by it, it is recommended that he give it to him—with the intention of zakÁt—without disclosing it.
1953.If a person gives zakÁtto an individual thinking that he is poor, but later realizes that he was not poor, or owing to his ignorance of the ruling gives it to a person whom he knows is not poor, then given that the property continues to exist, he must retake it and give it to a deserving person. If he is unable to retake it, he should replace the zakÁtfrom his own wealth. If it has ceased to exist, then if the recipient knew that it was being given as zakÁt, a person may claim its replacement from the recipient and give it to a deserving person. However, if the recipient did not know it was zakÁt, the giver cannot take anything from him. He will have to replace it from his own wealth and give it to a deserving person.
1954. If a person is indebted and is unable to repay his debt, he may partake of zakÁtto pay off his debt, even if he possess enough income that meets his year’s expenses, with the condition that the asset that he loaned was not spent in a sinful manner.
1955.If a person gives zakÁtto a person who is indebted and unable to pay off his debt, but later realizes that the loan was spent in a sinful manner, then if the debtor is a poor person, the giver may count thezakÁtthat he paid as one that is given to the poor.
1956.A person may count the asset that he is owed by a person towards his zakÁt, if the debtor is unable to pay off his debt, regardless of whether the debtor is poor or not. However, if he is not poor, then in the event that he knows that the loaned asset was utilized in a sinful manner, the creditor may not count ittowards his own ZakÁt.
1957. If a traveler runs out of his funds, or his means of transportation gets damaged, he may partake of zakÁtgiven that his journey was not a sinful one, and he is unable to reach his destination by getting a loan or selling the items that he has, even though he may not be a poor person in his hometown. However, if he is able to procure the funds for his journey at another location by getting a loan or selling something that he has, then he may only partake of zakÁtto the extent that is required to reach that location.
1958. If a traveler who is stranded in his journey, partakes of zakÁt, and after reaching his destination realizes that an amount of the zakÁthas remained, then in the event that he is not able to return it to the giver, or returning it entails a lot of hardship, he must give it to the ÎÁkim al-sharÞÐyy and inform him that it is a part of zakÁt.