Zakat and Your Family
We are taught that poor relatives should be given preference when distributing Zakat due to the hadith. Quite similar to the Western saying ‘charity begins at home’ – however, not every family member can receive your Zakat.
The Hanafi and Hanbali schools are of the opinion that one’s lineal ascendants (parents, grandparents) and descendants (children, grandchildren) cannot receive Zakat as a common interest exists between the two.
The Maliki and Shafi’i schools opine that Zakat can only be given to those poor relatives when one is not legally responsible for their maintenance.
The following conditions apply:
- Recipients should be assessed individually, and not as a family.
- However, if the close relative fits into the categories of other types of recipients, such as being a Zakat collector, then he can be given Zakat for that.
If the relative is not a close relative then Zakat can be given to them directly as long as they meet the criteria to be eligible to receive Zakat.
Here are some examples who you can and cannot give Zakat to according to the Hanafi school (this list is not exhaustive).
Family members you cannot donate to:
- Your Parents – Mother or Father.
- Your Children.
- Your Grandchildren.
- Your Spouse – Husband or Wife.
Family members and others you can donate to (if they are qualified to receive Zakat):
- Siblings – brother or Sister
- Uncles and aunties
- Nephews and nieces
- Stepbrothers or sisters
- A Muslim friend
- A Muslim neighbour
Q: My uncle’s family in Bangladesh are not wealthy. My uncle gets some income from agriculture, and my auntie has a gold set. They have a disabled child. I think they cannot receive Zakat because of the gold set and the yearly income. someone told me that because of their disabled child they can. Is this true?
A): Firstly, it is important to note that each family member should be looked at individually, e.g. it might be possible for your uncle to receive Zakat and not your auntie, or vice versa.
As for your uncle, having an income doesn’t mean he is not eligible to receive Zakat. If his income is not enough to meet his expenses and if he has no savings, then he may well be eligible.
Your auntie may be eligible to receive Zakat depending on the value of her gold. If it exceeds 85 grams then if anything she should pay Zakat. If it is below, then she may be eligible.
Having a disabled child is not a reason to receive Zakat. Eligibility for Zakat depends on one’s own financial circumstances, not on the health of one’s children.
Q) My brother, who lives in the UK, has a lot of debt. I need to pay Zakat, so can I pay my Zakat to him. He also owes me money along with other people in the family. Am I allowed to reduce the debt he owes to me from the Zakat I have to pay?
A) Once you have taken account of your own circumstances and if it is the case that you are liable to pay Zakat, then you must ensure that you pay this amount to someone who is eligible to receive it so that you fulfil your obligation.
However, you cannot reduce your own Zakat liability by the amount that your brother owes you. The repayment of his debt to you is a separate matter.
If your brother is in difficult circumstances then he may wish to apply to us for support and we may be able to help him if he is eligible.
Q) I do not qualify for Zakat this year as I’m in debt. Can my wife pay a portion of her Zakat to me for the running of the household or to pay off the debt?
A) The schools of Fiqh have differed in this matter. The Shafi’i school permit the wife to give her Zakat to her needy husband. The Hanafi school does not permit a wife to give Zakat to her husband.
Q) As a parent, can I give Zakat to their child to stop them from getting a student loan?
A) No, a parent can’t give Zakat to their child to stop them from getting a student loan. What you can do is instead give Zakat to your nephew or niece for their student loan and ask other family members to assist pay the tuition fees of your son/daughter with Zakat funds.
Q) Is Zakat payable on an unborn child?
A) An unborn child is not liable to pay Zakat. Any wealth set aside for an unborn child will still belong to the donor and the donor will add that wealth to their Zakat calculation.
Reviewed on 02/02/2022