Q: Will zakaat be discharged by paying a poor person’s light or water account?
From Ihyaaud Deen: This entry is part 22 of 37 in the series Zakaat Masaail
A: The fundamental requirement in the discharging of zakaat is the aspect of Tamleek i.e. to transfer ownership of the wealth to the recipient of zakaat. Since this requirement is not fulfilled in the case where the person paid the water or light account, the zakaat will not be discharged. However, if one fears that if he gives the money to the poor man then instead of him paying his water or light account he will misuse the wealth then in this situation he may ask the poor man for permission to pay the account on his behalf. In this way the zakaat will be discharged.