Soldier of Allah 

5. The Eight Channels of Distributing Zakah

The Poor
The Needy
Those Employed to Administer Zakah
Those Whose Hearts are Made to Embrace Islam
To Emancipate Slaves
The Debtors
In the Cause of Allah
The Wayfarer

The Poor

The poor are those in need and cannot afford their basic needs.

According to the majority of jurists, the poor are those who do not have any assets and have no means through which they can earn their living. However, the Hanafi juristic school defined the poor as those who have money lesser than the amount on which Zakah is payable . The poor are worse than the needy as regards satisfying their basic needs. However, some scholars held the opposite view.
Actually, this dispute in categorization has no effect, since both the poor and the needy are among the categories entitled to receive Zakah.

b. The amount of Zakah given to the poor should be sufficient for covering their basic needs, including eating, clothing and housing for one year. The basic needs are to be determined according to the prevalent customs in the time and place in which Zakah is paid.

c. Among the categories appended to the poor deserving Zakah, after ascertaining that they have no sustainer, determined either by legislation or by a juridical verdict, are orphans, foundlings, widows, divorced women, the aged and decrepit people, the sick, the crippled, those receiving low incomes, the students, the unemployed and the families of the jailed, and prisoners of war, as stipulated in the regulations of Zakah distribution channels of Kuwaiti Zakah House (article 4).

The Needy

According to the majority of jurists, the needy are the people whose earnings do not cover their basic needs. However, Abu Hanifah defined them as 'those who have no earnings at all.' They assume the same status of the poor as regards Zakah. The Hanafi and Maliki jurists consider them as deserving Zakah more than the poor. However, the Hanbali and Shafi`i jurists put forward the poor as more deserving Zakah.

Those Employed to Administer Zakah

This term stands for all those serving in the field of collecting, storing, guarding, registering and distributing Zakah. They are appointed by the official bodies or Islamic societies.‏ They shoulder all Zakah related activities including introducing the regulations of Zakah as stipulated in the third recommendation of the symposium held under the auspices of the Kuwaiti Zakah House.

The existing societies and commissions responsible for collecting Zakah represent the old charity houses known in early Islamic era. Therefore, such societies should meet the conditions required for those commissioned to administer Zakah.

a. The tasks entitled on the administrators of Zakah may be authorized to them by the State. The administrators of Zakah should be male Muslims, honest, and familiar with the juristic rulings pertaining to Zakah. Other subsidiary tasks may be performed by other persons such as computer works, stores, maintenance of fixed assets ... etc .

b. The administrators of Zakah are to be paid from the portion of Zakah dedicated to this purpose even though they were not poor, keeping in mind that all salaries and managerial costs should not exceed one-eighth (12%) of the whole collected amount of Zakah.

c. There should be no tendency to increase employment, unless it is necessary. It is preferable that the employees in the field of administering Zakah are paid by the state, so that the other channels of Zakah may benefit from the funds of Zakah.

d. Administrators of Zakah are not allowed to receive presents or gifts (given to them because of their post), whether in kind or in cash.

e. The headquarters of the Zakah institutions and administrations should be equipped with all necessary tools, equipment and furniture, which will be financed from the funds of Zakah, unless these are financed from sources such as the public treasury, gifts or donations. Also, they may be financed from the portion dedicated to the administrators of Zakah, provided that this equipment is necessary for the process of collecting and distributing Zakah, or leading to increase in the resources of Zakah.

f. The committees of Zakah should be monitored by the bodies that appointed or licensed them, in a way which follows the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him). An administrator of Zakah is regarded as a trustee over Zakah and, thus, is held accountable for any damage or loss that may result from misuse or negligence.

g. The workers in the field of administering Zakah should foster the good manners encouraged by Islam when dealing with the payers and recipients of Zakah, propagate the noble aims of Zakah, and hasten to distribute it.

Those Whose Hearts are Made to Embrace Islam

a. This is one of the eight channels of distributing Zakah, which finds a solid proof to support it in Islamic legislation. The majority of jurists held that this category has the right to receive Zakah, even though they are not in need.

b. Among the most important fields to which this portion of Zakah is dedicated are the following:

- People expected to be Muslims who adopt the Islamic moralities, but they are not yet Muslims, or those who have the ability to convince other people to embrace Islam.

- The influential bodies or individuals such as leaders or presidents who can contribute to improving the conditions of Muslim communities and minorities abroad and support their claims, or who can urge the intellectuals to defend their cause. The same applies to funds dedicated to improving the image of Islam and Muslims through assisting the afflicted non-Muslim areas.

- Those who have been Muslims for a period less than a year and are in need of support, not only financially but also morally, to cope with their new conditions of life. This can be realized through establishing social and scientific institutions to provide them with the appropriate climate.

c. There are some key points that regulate spending from this portion of Zakah, which must be taken into consideration:

- The spending in this channel should be concomitant with and leading to the aims for which Zakah is ordained.

- The spending in this channel should not affect spending in the other channels of distribution.

- Spending in this channel of distribution should be undertaken cautiously to avoid the negative aspects that may be disadvantageous to the cause of Islam or badly affect the emotions of the people who have recently embraced Islam.

d) Effective modern technologies and methods should be applied in collecting and distributing Zakah in a way to guarantee achieving the aims of Shari`ah in the best way possible.

To Emancipate Slaves

Since there are no slaves any more, the portion of Zakah dedicated to setting slaves free is to be shifted to the other channels of distribution. However, some jurists maintained that such funds should be allocated for the Muslim prisoners of war.

The Debtors

This channel of distributing Zakah includes the following:

a) A debt incurred to bring an indispensable requirement, provided that:

1. The debt is not incurred to be spent in committing sins.

2. The debtor is liable to imprisonment in case he does not repay his debt.

3. The inability of the debtor to repay.

4. The debt falls due or is payable at the time of receiving Zakah.

b). A debt incurred to achieve social reform, such as the amounts paid as blood money or compensation for damages shouldered by a person to bring about reconciliation between two or more contesting parties. Such debtors would receive Zakah, even though they are not in need.

c) A debt incurred as a result of guaranteeing the repayment of a debt owed by others, in case both the guarantor and the debtor are incapable to repay.

The indemnity incurred as a result of manslaughter, provided that neither the family of the accused nor the public treasury is able to afford it.

However, no Zakah is paid for indemnity incurred as a result of premeditated murder. It is recommended to establish special funds other than Zakah that aid those required to pay indemnities resulting from traffic accidents.

In the Cause of Allah

In the wider sense, this channel of distribution covers all methods of promoting the Islamic faith, whether through Jihad, propagating the enactment of the Islamic legislation or defending Islam through the intellectual confrontation against its opposing hostile trends.

This channel of distribution includes the following:

a. Financing Jihad activities to spread Islam and repel enemies attacks against Muslim countries.

b. Supporting fruitful individual and collective efforts aiming at spreading Islamic rule, establishing Islamic law, and resisting plans to marginalize Islam and its law.

c. Financing the Islamic centers and mosques established in non-Muslim countries, directed by faithful men with the aim of adopting valid methods to spread Islam in these countries.

d. Financing the serious efforts exerted to support the Muslim minorities under non-Muslim rule.

The Wayfarer

A wayfarer is a traveler who has not enough money to return home. He has a right to receive Zakah on the following conditions:

a. He should be in a country other than his homeland. In case he is in need inside his homeland, he will be treated as poor or needy, but not a wayfarer.

b. He should have left his homeland for a lawful purpose; otherwise giving him money will support evil-doing.

c) He should suffer the lack of money while traveling, even though he is counted among the rich in his country. In case he has money in the form of a deferred debt, or a debt owed by someone who is not there at the time of need, or an insolvent person, or even by a person who denies the debt, this wayfarer is entitled to receive Zakah.

Go to top