Who can Zakat not be given to?
The majority of scholars hold the opinion that Zakat is to be both paid and received by Muslims. Other forms of charity such as Sadaqah can be given to Muslims and/or non-Muslims alike.
Zakat cannot be given to:
- The rich ((except when such are among the workers of Zakat).
- The strong and able poor e.g. those capable but not willing to work
- The heretic, apostate, those disbelievers actively fighting Islam
- The family of the Prophet (peace be upon him) – The names of the Prophet’s tribes are Banū Hāshim and Banū Muṭṭalib
- Lineal descendants i.e. children and grandchildren
- Lineal ascendants i.e. parents and grandparents
- Wives of the payer
Why can wives of a payer not receive Zakat, but husbands can?
Zakat is to be given to those who don’t have anyone legally responsible for taking care of them.
In Islam, it is the husband’s responsibility to take care of his wife, pay for the bills, put food on the table. Therefore he should not be giving her Zakat since it is his duty to maintain her minimal financial well-being anyway.
If it was the case that the husband should give Zakat to his wife, then perhaps many men would see this alone as their financial duty to their wives once a year, whereas in fact, their duty is to maintain the wife all year round.
By contrast to the above scenario, if a poor man were to marry a relatively well-to-do lady then she could give him Zakat since she does not have any financial responsibility towards him on a regular basis.
In today’s context, it would probably be unlikely that a man would accept Zakat from his wife but he would be allowed to do so if both parties consented and if he was technically eligible to receive Zakat.