Dear n Respected Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Assalaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatul-Laah
I wish to send my zakah to Burma for the extremely poor, persecuted and completely unprotected n defenseless Muslims.
Great majority of them do NOT and can NOT fast because they are extremely poor and have no means to afford enough food for Suhoor-Iftaar. They live on handouts, scavenging and begging. Can my cousin in Rangoon arrange to prepare S-I out of zakah that I plan to send, to feed them hearty S-I so that they can fast throughout Ramadan?
For your information, according to strong evidence, indications and observations for an extended period of time, these Muslims might spend cash handed to them (i.e., zakah) more on sinful things and less on essential food and other basic day to day necessary items.
Your EARLIEST and learned answer, based on all the above factors, will be highly appreciated.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
There is no doubt that our brothers and sisters in Burma are in dire need of assistance and one can assist deserving recipients among them.
Keep in mind the principle that deserving recipients of Zakat need to be made owners of the Zakat funds regardless of whether they are paid in money or in-kind.
In Suhur and Iftar, this act of making a recipient an owner [tamlik] is not found – meaning that ownership of the food is not transferred to them. Rather, they are merely given permission to partake of this food at the time of suhur and iftar.
In order to use Zakat funds to give food to deserving recipients of Zakat, one can give them food in packets or containers such that it is clear to them (i.e. the recipients) that they are now owners of this food and may do whatever they want with it.
Now, whether they eat it immediately or save some or all of it for later, give it to someone else, etc it is their choice. In this way, it will be permissible to use Zakat funds for this purpose since they will become owners of the food they are given. [i][ii]
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best,
Mufti Sohail ibn Arif,
Assistant Mufti, Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.
ويشترط أن يكون الصرف (تمليكا) لا إباحة كما مر [i]
(قوله: تمليكا) فلا يكفي فيها الإطعام إلا بطريق التمليك ولو أطعمه عنده ناويا الزكاة لا تكفي
رد المحتار، ٢/ ٣٤٤
فتاوى محمودية، ٩/ ٦٠١ – ٦٠٢ [ii]