Who is eligible to receive Zakat?

Published: May 1, 2021
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Zakat can be paid to specific individuals or groups who fall into one or more of eight zakatable categories spelled out by Allah in the Quran:

Indeed, [prescribed] charitable offerings are only [to be given] to the poor and the indigent, and to those who work on [administering] it, and to those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to [free] those in bondage, and to the debt-ridden, and for the cause of God, and to the wayfarer. [This is] an obligation from God. And God is all-knowing, all-wise. – Al-Tawbah, 9:60

The Quran specifies how zakat is to be distributed precisely, but grants Muslims flexibility in its payment. This guarantees the right of the needful while accommodating changes in how wealth is stored, how money is best distributed, and how different cultures change over time.

Most scholars prescribe the following categories of people are to receive Zakat

  1. The poor (al-fuqarâ’), meaning low-income or indigent.
  2. The needy (al-masâkîn), meaning someone who is in difficulty.
  3. Zakat administrators.
  4. Those whose hearts are to be reconciled, meaning new Muslims and friends of the Muslim community.
  5. Those in bondage (slaves and captives).
  6. The debt-ridden.
  7. In the cause of God.
  8. The wayfarer, meaning those who are stranded or traveling with few resources.

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