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Disposal of Zakat

1933. Zakat can be spent for the following eight purposes:

  1. It may be given to poor person, who does not possess actual or potential means to meet his own expenses, as well as that of his family for a period of one year. However, a person who has an art or possesses property or capital to meet his expenses, is not classified as poor.

  2. It may be paid to a miskin (a destitute person) who leads a harder life than a Faqir (a poor person).

  3. It can be given to a person who is a Wakil of Holy Imam (A.S.) or his representative to collect Zakat, to keep it in safe custody, to maintain its accounts and to deliver it to the Imam or his representative or to the poor.

  4. It can be given to those non-Muslims who may, as a result, be inclined to Islam, or may assist the Muslims with the Zakat for fighting against the enemies, or for other justified purposes. It can be given to those Muslims also whose faith in the Prophet or in the Wilayat of Amirul Momineen is unstable and weak, provided that, as a result of giving, their faith is entrenched.

  5. It can be spent to purchase the slaves to set them free, the details of which have been given in its relevant Chapter.

  6. It can be given to an indebted person who is unable to repay his debt.

  7. It may be spent in the way of Allah for things which has common benefit to the Muslims; for example, to construct a mosque, or a school for religious education, or to keep the city clean, or to widen or to build tar roads.

  8. It may be given to a stranded traveller.

These are the situations in which Zakat can be spent. But in situation number 3 and 4, the owner cannot spend without the permission of Imam (A.S.) or his representative; and the same applies to the 7th situation, as per obligatory precaution. Rules relating to these are explained in the following articles:

1934. The obligatory precaution is that a poor and destitute person should not receive Zakat more than his expenses and those of his family, for one year. And if he possesses some money or commodity, he should receive Zakat equivalent to the shortfall in meeting his expenses for a year.

1935. If a person had enough amount to meet his expenses for a year, and he spent something out of it, and then doubts whether or not the remaining amount will be sufficient to meet his expenses for one year, he cannot receive Zakat.

1936. An artisan, a land-owner, or a merchant whose income is less than his expenses for one year can take Zakat to meet his annual shortfall, and it is not necessary for him to sell off his tools, property, or spend his capital in order to meet his expenses.

1937. A poor person who has no means of meeting his own expenses, and those of his family, for one year, can receive Zakat, even if he owns a house in which he lives, or possesses a means of transport, without which he cannot lead his life, or it may be to maintain his self-respect.
And the same rule applies to household equipment's, utensils and dresses for summer and winter, and other things needed by him (i.e. he can take Zakat even if he possesses these things). And if a poor person does not have these essential things, he can purchase them from Zakat, if he needs them.

1938. If it is not difficult for a poor person to learn an art, he should not, as an obligatory precaution, depend on Zakat. However, he can receive Zakat as long as he is learning the art.

1939. If a person who was poor previously says that he is still poor, Zakat can be given to him, even if the person giving Zakat may not be satisfied with what he says. But if a person was not known to be poor previously, Zakat cannot be given to him, as a precaution, till one is satisfied about his poverty.

1940. If a person says that he is poor, and he was not poor previously, and if one is not satisfied with what he says, the obligatory precaution is that Zakat should not be given to him.

1941. If a Zakat giver is the creditor of a poor person, he can adjust the debt against Zakat.

1942. If a poor man dies, and his property is not as much as it may liquidate his debt, the creditor can adjust his claim against Zakat. And even if his property is sufficient to clear his debt, but his heirs do not pay his debt, or the creditor cannot get back his money for any other reason, he can adjust the debt against Zakat.

1943. It is not necessary for a person who gives Zakat to mention to the poor that it is Zakat. In fact, if the poor feels ashamed of it, it is recommended that he should not mention at all that he has given with the intention of Zakat.

1944. If a person gives Zakat to someone thinking that he is poor, and understands later that he was not poor, or owing to his not knowing the rule, gives Zakat to a person who he knows is not poor, it will not be sufficient. Hence, if the Zakat which he gave to that poor still exists, he should take it back from him, and give it to the person entitled to it.
And if that thing does not exist, and the person who took it was aware that he was given from Zakat, the Zakat payer should obtain its substitute from him, and give it to the person entitled to it. And if the receiver was not aware that it was Zakat, nothing will be taken from him, and the person who has to pay Zakat will give the substitute from his own property.

1945. A person who is indebted and is unable to repay his debt, can receive Zakat to repay it, even if he has the means to meet his expenses for one year. However, it is necessary that he should not have spent the loan for some sinful purpose.

1946. If a man gives Zakat to someone who is indebted and who cannot repay his debt, and understands later that he had spent the loan for sinful purpose, if that debtor is poor, the man can adjust the sum as Zakat given to poor.

1947. If a person is indebted and is unable to repay his debt, although he is not poor, the creditor can adjust against Zakat the amount which that person owes him.

1948. If a traveller is stranded because he has no money left with him, or his means of transport does not function, he can receive Zakat, provided that his journey is not for a sinful purpose, and that he cannot reach his destination by taking a loan or by selling something. He can receive Zakat even if he is not poor in his hometown.
But if he can raise money for the expenses of his journey to another place nearby, by borrowing money or selling something, he should take only that much of Zakat, which would enable him to reach that place.

1949. If a stranded traveller takes Zakat, and upon reaching his hometown finds that some of it has remained unspent, he should send it back to the giver of Zakat, and if he cannot do so, he should give it to the Mujtahid mentioning that it is Zakat.