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Who is qualified to receive Zakah?

The Quran describes eight categories of people who are to receive Zakah in Surah 9, verse 60. “As-Sadaqat (here it means Zakat) are only for the Fuqara and Al-Masakin and those employed to collect the (funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s Cause, and for the wayfarer; a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.”

Ahmad Sakr elaborated on these categories:

1. The poor (Fuqara)-this refers to someone who has no income
2. The needy (Masakin)-this is someone who for instance, may have a job, a house and a car, but their income is below the minimum requirement.
3. Employees of the Zakah. This category is sub-divided into the following:

  • the group of people who are social services workers who go into the community to evaluate who is Faqeer and Miskeen.
  • those who collect the Zakah money
  • the accountant of the Zakah money
  • investors who increase the share of the Zakah
  • the clerical worker or secretary who puts the files in order
  • those who will deliver Zakah to the ones who need it
  • the outside auditor.

4. Sympathizers
These are those people who might enter or who have already entered Islam. Anyone we feel are good friends or ours (non-Muslim or new Muslims) we give them a gift from the Zakah money.

5. To free slaves
Riqab is the term used to describe the group of people who are slaves. The Zakah money is used to free the slaves. Sakr stresses that Islam did not invent slavery, but it gradually abolished it.

6. For the Gharimeen-those who are in debt
Zakah money is used to pay off debts but these people are not living in luxury, they are living a normal life. For example, someone who has gone bankrupt because of job loss and is overloaded with debt.

7. Fee Sabeelillah (for the Cause of Allah)
This can be anything for the love of Allah. Sakr gave the following examples:

a. for the employment of a Daiyah, Imam, or religious teachers to do Dawa
b. building Islamic schools
c. building Muslim clinics and hospitals
d. providing money to young men who want to marry but cannot afford Mahr
e. to assist poor travelers
f. to establish water springs on streets for those walking or travelers
(please note, these last three things were done by Khalifa Umar ibn Abdul Aziz)
g. to defend Muslims who are under attack
h. For television, radio or newspaper project aimed at doing Dawa
i. to help someone publish a book for Dawa
j. to pay for the studies of a student..

8. Ibn as Sabeel
This refers to a traveler, for instance who has lost his wallet and has to get back to his home.

Sakr stresses that this has to be verified to see if this person is really telling the truth, since there has been at least one case of a man claiming to be a lost traveler in North America who has stolen thousands from Muslims claiming to be a traveler of this type.