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Alms Tax (Zakat) » Criteria for being entitled to receive (mustaḥiqq) zakat → ← Alms Tax (Zakat) » Zakat on business goods

Alms Tax (Zakat) » Distribution of zakat

Ruling 1940. Zakat can be distributed in eight ways.

1.
It can be given to a poor person (faqīr). A poor person is defined as someone who does not possess the means to meet his and his family’s expenses for one year. Therefore, someone who has a trade, or property, or capital by means of which he can meet these expenses for a year, is not a poor person.
2. It can be given to a needy person (miskīn). A needy person is defined as someone whose living conditions are worse than that of a poor person.
3. It can be given to a person who has been appointed by the Imam (ʿA) or his representative (nāʾib) to collect and safeguard zakat, maintain its accounts, and deliver it to the Imam (ʿA), his representative, or to the poor (fuqarāʾ).
4. It can be given to disbelievers (kuffār) who will be inclined to the religion of Islam if zakat is given to them, or who will assist Muslims in battle or in some other matter. Zakat can also be given to Muslims whose faith in some of the noble Messenger’s (Ṣ) teachings is weak but which will be strengthened as a result of giving zakat to them. Furthermore, zakat can be given to a Muslim who does not believe in the vicegerency (wilāyah) of the Commander of the Faithful [Imam ʿAlī] (ʿA) but who will be inclined to believe in it if zakat is given to him.
5. To buy and free slaves, the details of which are mentioned in their appropriate place.
6. It can be given to a person who is in debt but is unable to repay his debt.
7. In the way of Allah (fī sabīl allāh), i.e. acts that benefit the general Muslim public, such as building mosques and religious schools, keeping the town clean, tarmacking and expanding roads, and suchlike.
8. It can be given to a stranded traveller (ibn al-sabīl).

These are the ways in which zakat can be spent; however, in the third and fourth cases, the owner cannot spend zakat without the permission of the Imam (ʿA) or his representative. And based on obligatory precaution, in the seventh case, the owner must obtain permission from a fully qualified jurist. The laws (aḥkām) concerning these ways will be explained in the following rulings (masāʾil).

Ruling 1941. The obligatory precaution is that a poor or needy person must not receive zakat that is more than his and his family’s expenses for one year. If he has some money or goods, he must only receive an amount of zakat that makes up the shortfall for what he needs in order to meet his expenses for a year.

Ruling 1942. If a person has sufficient means to meet his expenses for a year and spends part of it, and then he doubts whether or not the remaining amount will be sufficient to meet his expenses for one year, he cannot receive zakat.

Ruling 1943. A craftsman, proprietor, or a businessman whose income is less than his expenses for one year can receive zakat to meet his shortfall, and it is not necessary for him to sell his tools or property or to spend his capital in order to meet his expenses.

Ruling 1944. A poor person who does not possess the means to meet his and his family’s expenses for one year can receive zakat even if he owns a house in which he lives, or he possesses a vehicle without which he cannot lead his life or uphold his respect. The same applies to household furniture, utensils, summer and winter clothes, and other things needed by him. And if a poor person does not have such things but needs them, he can purchase them from zakat.

Ruling 1945. A poor person who can work and thereby meet his and his family’s expenses but does not do so due to laziness is not permitted to receive zakat. A poor student for whom working will be an obstacle to him continuing with his studies cannot in any case receive the portion of zakat that is for poor people unless studying for him is an individual obligation (al-wājib al-ʿaynī).(1) As for receiving it from the ‘in the way of Allah’ portion of zakat, it is permitted if his education will benefit the general public and, based on obligatory precaution, it is given with the authorisation of a fully qualified jurist. A poor person for whom it is not difficult to learn a trade cannot, based on obligatory precaution, live on zakat, although he can receive zakat while he is learning the trade.

Ruling 1946. One can give zakat to a person who was previously poor and who says he is poor now even if he does not attain confidence (iṭmiʾnān) in his statement. However, based on obligatory precaution, one cannot give zakat to a person about whom it is not known whether or not he was previously poor [and who says he continues to be poor] until he attains confidence about him being poor.

Ruling 1947. If a person that was not poor previously says he is poor now, in the event that confidence cannot be derived from what he says, zakat cannot be given to him.

Ruling 1948. If a person who must give zakat is owed some amount by a poor person, he can count the amount he is owed by the poor person towards his zakat.

Ruling 1949. If a poor person dies and his estate is insufficient to repay his debt, one may count the amount he is owed by the deceased towards his zakat. In fact, if his property is sufficient to repay his debt but his inheritors do not settle his debt, or, if for some other reason one cannot reclaim the money he loaned the deceased, he can count the amount he is owed towards his zakat in this case as well.

Ruling 1950. If a person gives something to a poor person with the intention of zakat, it is not necessary for him to tell him it is zakat. In fact, if the poor person is ashamed by taking zakat, it is recommended (mustaḥabb) that he gives it to him with the intention of zakat but without disclosing to him that it is zakat.

Ruling 1951. If a person gives someone zakat thinking that he is poor and later realises that he was not poor, or, if on account of not knowing the ruling he gives zakat to someone whom he knows is not poor, it is not sufficient [and he will not have discharged his duty]. Therefore, in the event that the item he gave the beneficiary still exists, he must take it back from him and give it to someone entitled to receive zakat. However, if the item does not exist and the beneficiary knew it was given to him as zakat, then he can claim its replacement from the beneficiary and give it to someone entitled to receive zakat; but, if the beneficiary did not know it was zakat, he cannot take anything from him and he must give zakat again from his own property to someone entitled to receive it, even if, based on obligatory precaution, he investigated about the poor person or he relied upon something that was legally authoritative (al-ḥujjah al-sharʿiyyah) [such as the statement of a reliable person].

Ruling 1952. A person who is in debt but is unable to repay his debt – even if he has the means to meet his expenses for one year – can receive zakat in order to repay his debt. However, he must not have spent the loan for a sinful purpose.

Ruling 1953. If a person gives zakat to someone who is in debt but is unable to repay his debt and he later realises that the debtor spent the loan for a sinful purpose, in the event that the debtor is poor, the person can count what he gave him as the portion of zakat that is given to poor people.

Ruling 1954. With regard to a person who is in debt but is unable to repay his debt, the lender can count the amount owed to him by the person as zakat even if the person is not poor.

Ruling 1955. If a traveller runs out of funds or his means of transportation stops functioning, in the event that the purpose of his journey is not sinful and he cannot reach his destination by borrowing or by selling something, he can receive zakat even if he is not a poor person in his home town (waṭan). However, if he can procure funds for his journey at another place by borrowing money or by selling something, then he can receive zakat up to the amount that will enable him to get to that place. And based on obligatory precaution, if he can raise money by selling or renting some property in his home town for the expenses of his journey, he must not receive zakat.

Ruling 1956. If a stranded traveller has received zakat and after reaching his home town finds that some of the zakat has remained unspent, in the event that he cannot return it to the benefactor, he must return it to a fully qualified jurist stating that it is zakat.

(1) This is an obligatory circumambulation (ṭawāf) of the Kaʿbah that is performed as part of the hajj rituals.
Alms Tax (Zakat) » Criteria for being entitled to receive (mustaḥiqq) zakat → ← Alms Tax (Zakat) » Zakat on business goods
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