Q. When persons apply for Zakaat, the Zakaat committee usually investigates the case. Is this permissible?
A. There is no harm in investigating a case to know whether the person is deserving or not.
Q. People apply for Zakaat and they are given Zakaat to build/stock businesses e.g. oil selling etc. so as not to become a burden on people. Can this be done?
A. It is not permissible to give Zakaat to build a business or to purchase stocks to begin a business.
Q. If a person says he wishes to start a business, can the committee purchase the necessary items and give it to them?
A. Zakaat must be given to the poor and needy. As soon as a person is found to be deserving of Zakaat, then the Zakaat money should be given to him. It should not be withheld in order to purchase items to start a business for the recipient of Zakaat.
Q. If a client applies for Zakaat in order to purchase glasses or to have an eye test and they are seen as being eligible for Zakaat, can we or should we bargain with them to go to a cheaper place, especially if we have large funds in Zakaat?
A. The committee’s duty is not to bargain with anyone – once a person is deserving of Zakaat then it should be given to him/her. It is wrong to purchase the glasses and give it to him. Just give him the money that can be given in Zakaat, let him do the rest.
Q. How long should we keep Zakaat in our fund. One year or more?
A. Zakaat is ‘money’ which belongs to the poor and needy and should not be kept away from them. As such it is totally wrong to have Zakaat money piling up to large sums and not distributed. Since it is compulsory on a yearly basis, it should not be stored up for more than that period.
Q. If a person is working e.g. driving a taxi and wants Zakaat for medical purposes, what do we look for to ascertain if he is eligible?
A. Zakaat is given to those who qualify as ‘poor and needy’. The shariah has made the Nisaab as a criterion for the same. As such those who have in their savings the Nisaab of Zakaat, cannot receive Zakaat. Those who do not have the Nisaab, they can receive Zakaat. A person who does not own a savings but enjoys a comfortable living e.g. by having a job, car etc. should not receive Zakaat.
Zakaat is the right of the poor and the needy. It is given to them so that they will be relieved from begging and also have a sustenance etc. As such when a poor or needy person comes for Zakaat, he should not be asked about the reasons for taking Zakaat since he is already qualified to receive it.
N.B.: Whoever comes for Zakaat must be given the Zakaat and made as owners of the money. It is totally wrong to start a business with Zakaat money and then hand over the business to the man, or to start a business with Zakaat money on behalf of a man.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan