Q: Due to the lack of knowledge about its calculation, I never really calculated and paid Zakat in the past. However I have been sponsoring a poor orphan for many years now. Would the money I have been contributing towards this poor orphan count as Zakat or do I have to recalculate and pay the Zakat for the previous years?
A: Yes you will have to recalculate and pay the Zakat for the previous years. The money you have been giving to this orphan is an act of virtue and InshaAllah you will get immense rewards for it. However this cannot be considered to be Zakat.
One of the condition of the validity of the Zakat is that one must have the intention of giving Zakat. Please see link below:
Having the “intention” (niyyat) when giving Zakat
And Allah knows best!
Mufti Billal Omarjee