Of the five fundamental pillars of Islam, zakat is probably the only one that benefits both the individual and society. Prayers, fasting, pilgrimage, the profession of faith are all obligations, which if fulfilled, benefit the person performing them only. However, the matter is completely different when it comes to zakat. Here, your donation can be someone’s second opportunity of winning at life. But can that someone be your brother? Can we give zakat to our brothers?
These are the questions under discussion in this article, annexed with which are several other inquiries about zakat as well. We will try to unknot as many ties as we can in the limited space and time we have, but in return, we want your undivided attention! Understanding zakat can be a bit tricky, which is why we want you to close that Facebook tab and focus completely on this discussion.
Why does your zakat matter?
Capitalism has brought us to a point where wealth is locked in the vaults of rich ones all the time. This gives birth to financial stagnancy, a concept that implies the non-circulation of wealth. When you pay zakat, you are initiating a cycle of wealth distribution. As money exchanges hands, the vast gap that exists between different social classes begins to narrow down. Indeed, if all Muslims were to pay their due zakat, we would witness an Islamic economic revolution. This is why your zakat matters! When you donate your zakat money, you are trying to bring about a revolution that could unknot many economic ties, both at the micro and macro level.
Primary requisites for zakat eligibility
Since this is a debate about rules and regulations of zakat distribution, let us start with the basic eligibility criterion for receiving zakat. The recipient of your zakat money must be a member of the underprivileged section of the society, an individual who is simultaneously poor and needy. What defines poor? Well, in the context of this discussion, a poor person is someone who doesn’t meet the Nisab threshold exclusive of funds and property reserved for fulfilling basic requirements. We will talk about the familial restrictions on zakat distribution in the upcoming sections of this debate.
Does one have to pay zakat on children’s wealth?
There is a conflict of opinion on this matter between the most eminent schools of thought in Islam. According to the Hanafi school of thought, a child is not liable to pay zakat, irrespective of the wealth owned. It is only near puberty, one zakat is due on an individual. In the Sahfi and Imam Malik’s school of thought, any child who has wealth above the Nisab threshold does become liable to zakat. A detailed discussion on this subtopic is not within the scope of this discussion, but something that you should look up in your spare time nevertheless.
Is it OK to give zakat to brothers?
According to Dar-Al-Ifta[i], it is permissible to pay zakat to your brothers, or sisters as well, who are going through a period of financial challenges. It is OK to give zakat to the aforementioned family members if they are at sea in their search for means to earn. Your zakat money can provide some relief to them. However, it is not permissible to donate zakat to the family members like parents or children, or even to a wife. However, it is interesting to note that the wife can give zakat donations to her husband. Also, zakat cannot be given to the descendants of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Where else can you donate your zakat?
Keeping in mind the deplorable state of affairs post COVID-19 pandemic, your options for zakat candidates are unlimited. Tragic but true! Take a stroll in the dingy streets of a slum nearby your home, and you will understand what we are talking about. Talk to the salesman at your nearest market, and he will tell you exactly how bad things are right now! If searching for zakat candidates’ offline is something that sounds rather demanding to you, you can search for zakat candidates online as well. Many charities and trusts accept zakat donations, which are then directed into welfare projects for the Muslim community. If you are someone who feels inspired by the idea of funding an NGO that provides basic healthcare services free of cost, one option that you can consider is Transparent Hands.
Transparent Hands is the largest technological platform for crowdfunding in the healthcare sector of Pakistan. Pakistan’s healthcare system needs all the help it can get from NGOs and INGOs, exactly what Transparent Hands has been doing for a decade now. It offers a complete range of free healthcare services including medical and surgical treatments, medical camps, and telehealth facilities to the underprivileged community of Pakistan. The platform provides visibility to underprivileged patients and builds a personal and trusted bond between patients and donors while ensuring complete transparency. It also sets up free medical camps in the rural areas of Pakistan in which, free medical consultation, free medicines, and free diagnostic tests are provided to deserving patients. Donors from all over the world can use the Transparent Hands crowdfunding web portal and donate through 100% secure payment modes. They could select any patient, fund the treatment and receive regular feedback and updates until the patient has recovered completely. Well, if that resume sounded perfect to you, maybe you already know where your zakat donation is going this year!
Conclusion – Zakat to brothers
That would be all from this discussion. Among the many lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, one key takeaway was the importance of sharing the burden. We all have to chip in with our contribution if this world is to become a better place. Donating your zakat money to the deserving candidates is one way in which you can alleviate some of the troubles of the underprivileged members of Muslim society. We hope that you learned something if not everything new from this discussion about the fundamentals of zakat distribution. On that optimistic note, we bid you farewell from this space!