“The alms are meant only for the poor and the needy and those who are in charge thereof, those whose hearts are to be reconciled; and to free those in bondage, and to help those burdened with debt, and for expenditure in the way of Allah and for the wayfarer. This is an obligation from Allah. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.”
(Al-Qur’ān – 9:60)
The ayah determines eight different heads of Zakat. The first recipients of Zakat are fuqara, those who depend for their sustenance on others. They include orphans, destitute widows, the disabled, the unemployed and the old. Second, masakeen – those in greater distress than the ordinary poor. They are both self-respecting and poor, as Allah’s Messenger ﷺ says, ‘A miskeen is he who lacks the resources that would suffice him, who does not pose himself as one deserving of charity nor does he resort to begging.’ Third, ‘those employed to administer them’ refers to those appointed by the State to collect and disburse Zakat.
Fourth, Zakat may be used to provide succour for and to rehabilitate reverts. Fifth, fir-riquab means Zakat may be used to secure the emancipation of slaves or release of the unjustly jailed persons. Sixth, gharimeen refers to the debtors who would be reduced to a state of paupership if they were to pay off all their debts from their available resources, excluding those who incur heavy debts either as a result of their extravagance or their spending on evil purposes. Seventh, fi sabilillah signifies the cause of Islam. And, eighth, a traveller in need.