There are eight categories of people to whom Zakat can be distributed. These have been identified as:
1) Al-Fuqara: The Poor
This refers to those who do not own any Zakatable asset nor surplus asset which equates to the Nisab.
2) Al-Masakin: The Needy
According to some scholars, they are those whose economic status is worse off than the needy. In essence, they refer to those people who do not own any Zakatable asset nor surplus which equates to the Nisab.
3) Al-‘Amilina ‘Alayha: Administrators of Zakat
4) Al-Mu’allafate-Qulubuhum: Reconciliation of Hearts
This term applies to people who have embraced Islam or who are inclined to it.
5) Fir-Riqab: For those in Bondage
Zakat may be allocated to help Muslims free themselves of bondage / slavery.
6) Al-Gharimin: Those in Debt
Zakat may be given to those in debt. Those individuals whose liabilities exceed their Zakatable and surplus assets can receive Zakat to pay off debt.
7) Fi-Sabilillah: In the Cause of Allah
Muslim jurists differ on who or what can be covered under this category, although most seem to agree that it can be used in the defence of Islam. In the wider sense however, this channel covers promoting the Islamic value system.
8) Ibnas-Sabil: The Wayfarer
A wayfarer refers to a traveller who left his home for a lawful purpose and for whatever good reason does not possess enough money to return home, even if he is rich in his own country.
Should recipients be told it is Zakat?
If you give your Zakat directly to the recipient, you do not have to tell them that it is Zakat – this may cause them to be hesitant in accepting it due to the fact that they feel they are not needy enough to accept it / doubt their eligibility as a Zakat recipient - this is sometimes caused by the lack of education on Zakat.