Heads of Expenditure
[how zakat collections are to be spent]

We gratefully acknowledge and thank Islamic
Publications Ltd. for permission to print this
excerpt (Ch. 3) from Everyday Fiqh (vol. 2) 
by Abdul Aziz Kamal
The Qur’an says :
 “As a matter of fact, Zakat collections are only for the needy and the indigent, and for those who are employed to collect them and for those whose hearts are to be won over and for the ransoming of slaves and for helping the debtors and for the way of Allah and for the hospitality of the way-farers.  This is an obligatory duty from Allah : and Allah is All-knowing, All-Wise:. (9 : 60)
 According to this verse, Zakat has the following eight heads of expenditure :

(1) The needy,
(2) The indigent,
(3) The collectors of Zakat,
(4) Winning over of hearts to Islam,
(5) Ransoming of slaves,
(6) Helping the debtors,
(7) The Way of Allah,
(8) Hospitality to wayfarers.

According to Hadrat Zaid bin al-Harith, a man came before the Holy Prophet and requested to be given something out of Zakat funds.  The Holy Prophet replied:

 “Allah has not left the disbursement of Zakat money at the whim of a Prophet or a non-Prophet, but has Himself laid down its heads of expenditure, which are eight in number.  Therefore, if you come under any of the prescribed heads, I shall certainly help you out of Zakat money”.

(1) The Needy 

A person is needy if he depends on others for his sustenance.   This will include all such helpless people who stand in need of monetary help and co-operation of others, temporarily of permanently.  Thus Zakat can be spent to help the invalids, orphans, widows, the aged and the jobless people and those who have been afflicted by unforeseen calamities.  They may be given temporary help or granted pensions permanently.

(2) The Indigent

They  are the people who are destitute and helpless to the extreme, yet they are so self-respecting that they would neither beg nor implore others for help; they might be struggling for their livelihood but due to lack of resources do not earn enough to make ends meet, et they remain content with what they get and do not expose their true condition to the people.  According to Hadith, an indigent person is one 

 “Who does not get enough to satisfy his needs ; who is neither recognized to be poor so that people may render him necessary help, nor he stands up to beg.”
(Bukhari, Muslim)
(3)Zakat Collectors

They are the official agents who are appointed to collect Zakat and “Ushr, disburse it to the needy and maintain  accounts ; whether they possess the required Nisab or not, their remuneration can be charged to Zakat funds.

(4) Winning over of Hearts

This concerns the people whose hearts are to be reconciled to Islam and in the interest of the Islamic State.  They may be non-Muslims, or even the newly converted Muslims whose faith in Islam is not yet firm and strong enough to motivate them to serve the interests of Islam and the Islamic State.  Such people may be given money out of Zakat funds even if they are well-to-do and rich otherwise

The Hanafite viewpoint is that expenditure from Zakat on this head was permitted in the early period of Islam, but in the time of Hadrat Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, it was discontinued and now it stands abolished.  Imam Malik also holds the same opinion.  According to some other jurists, however, expenditure on this head is allowed even now, and Zakat money may be used to win over people to Islam if and when such a need arises.

(5) Ransoming slaves

Zakat money can be given to help a slave win and purchase his freedom from his master on the payment of the agreed ransom money.  But this provision cannot be generalized ; if there are no slaves at a certain time, expenditure on this head will remain suspended.

(6) Helping Debtors 

This concerns those people who are heavily under debt and cannot save enough to pay off their debts, whether they are  jobless or earning a little, or those who may be left with nothing if they pay off all their debts, or those who have been reduced to poverty due to unforeseen calamities like paying heavy penalties and fines, failure of business, etc.

(7) The Way of Allah 

This applies to Jihadin the way of Allah, which includes all those efforts which the Muslim may make for the purpose of establishing the Islamic order in place of an unIslamic system, whether this is done by means of the pen, or word of mouth , or the sword, or other means.  Jihad is not restricted to fighting nor is it extended to public works, but according to consensus it implies only those efforts which are aimed at propagating and establishing Islam and defending and preserving the Islamic State.  The expenses incurred in this connection on movement conveyance, supply of weapons and equipment of war, can be met from Zakat funds.   This may also include monetary help to pilgrims to the Ka’bah who are stranded on the way due to some accident, and to the students who are acquiring religious knowledge and are needy.

(8) Hospitality to the Wayfarer

The wayfarer, whether he is well off and rich at home, can be helped with Zakat money if he stands in need of such help while on a journey.

Other Regulations Concerning Zakat Expendiure

1. Zakat money need not be spent simultaneously on all heads prescribed in the Quran, but may be expended suitably on one or two heads only as and when required ; it may even be spent wholly on one head only if the circumstances so demand.

2. Heads of expenditure of ‘Ushr (the tithe) and Sadaqah Fitr (‘Id charity) are the same as of Zakat; optional  charities, however, may be spent as one likes.

3. The Holy Prophet has forbidden the people of his own family (Bani Hashim) to accept Zakat money, not even as remuneration for performing duties in connection with the collection and disbursement of Zakat funds.  However, if they like to perform such duties free of charge, they may do so as the Holy Prophet himself did during his lifetime.

4. Normally the Zakat money collected from one locality  should be spent on the needy and helpless people of the same locality.  But if required, it may be sent to help the needy people of other places as well, but the local people should not be wholly deprived.

People who re not entitled to receive Zakat

 The following seven categories of people are not entitled to receive Zakat; if Zakat is paid to any of them, it will not be valid :

1. Parents, grandparents and others in the line of scent.
2. Children, grandchildren and others in the line of descent.
3. A woman’s own husband.
4. A man’s own wife.


Giving Zakat to these near relations will imply that one is benefiting one’s own self and family, whereas helping and supporting the family with one’s wealth is a duty enjoined upon by the Shari’ah on every Muslim.  Apart from these relations, it is not only lawful but preferable and praiseworthy to give Zakat to all other relatives.

5. Well-to-do people who possess Nisab.
It may be noted that giving so much monetary help to a needy person that he becomes owner of Nisab, is also not  desirable.  However, if a needy person is in debt as well, or has to support a large family, he may be given as much help as required,

According to traditions, it is not lawful for a wealthy person to accept Zakat  unless he belongs to one of the following five categories :

(a) the fighter of the way of Allah,
(b) the collector of Zakat, ‘Usher, etc.,
(c) the debtor,
(d) the person who purchases charity goods from the recipient with his money,
(e) the rich person who has a poor neighbour, and the poor neighbour presents he charity goods received by him to the rich neighbour as gift.  (Mu’watta Imam Malik).

6. Non-Muslims.
7. People of the family of the Holy Prophet (Bani Hashim), which includes the following :

(a) Children of Hadrat ‘Abbas,
(b) Children of Harith,
(c) Children of Abu Talib.

The direct descendants of Hadrat Fatimah and of Hadrat ‘Ali are included in the third category.  However, it has become very difficult now to distinguish Bani Hashim from others; every poor and needy person, therefore, should be helped from Zakat funds, but if a person is sure of his descent from Bani Hashim, he should not accept Zakat,  According to Imam Malik, the Holy Prophet has said :

 “Charity goods are not lawful for the people of the family of Muhammad, for these goods are indeed the dirt which people dispose of.
Miscellaneous Regulations

1. If a poor person owes someone a debt, one cannot withhold one’s Zakat from him in lieu of he debt, because in that case Zakat will not be deemed to have been paid validly ; however, if one pays him Zakat, and he pays off his debts with that amount,  Zakat will be deemed to have been paid.
2. It is permissible to pay Zakat  money  to a domestic servant, but not in lieu of the remuneration, for services rendered.
3. One may spend one’s Zakat on making summer or winter clothing, or providing blankets, quilts, etc. for  [a] poor person, or on purchasing necessary articles for the marriage of a poor person or his child.
4. A woman who has suckled a child can give him Zakat if he is needy and poor ; the child also on growing up can help the woman with Zakat money if she needs such a help.
5. If a rich person gives his Zakat to somebody but then comes to know that the recipient was not a deserving case, or was a member of Bani Hashim, or was one’s own near relation who was not entitled to Zakat, there will be no harm and Zakat will be deemed to have been validly paid.  On the other hand, if a recipient realizes that he did not deserve Zakat, or was not entitled to it, he should return  the money received by him.
6. If Zakat is given to a needy person, but later it comes to light that the recipient was a non-Muslim, Zakat will not be deemed to have been paid, and will have to be paid over again.
7. If a person has received something as a gift or prize and it amounts up to the relevant Nisab, e will be required to pay Zakat on it after the lapse of a year.
8. Zakat is levyable on bank deposits.
9. A person who has been giving charities in different ways throughout the year without the intention of Zakat, cannot count the total amount thus given at the end of the year against Zakat, for intention of Zakat is a necessary condition of the valid payment of Zakat.

Everyday Fiqh (Vol.2) by Abdul Aziz Kamal ©1986 published by Islamic Publications (Pvt.) Ltd., 13-E Shah Alam Market, Lahore, Pakistan