Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
I was told that it’s preferred to pay Zakaat and Firtrah at the location where one lives. I live in the US, and I know of more deserving people back home in India.
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate.
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
This is generally true: it is normally disliked to pay one’s zakat in other than the land one is in. This is understood from the words of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) to Mu`adh (Allah be pleased with him), in which he said to take zakat from their wealthy and, “Give it to their needy.”
However, when there is more need or benefit in giving one’s zakat or charity elsewhere, then this would not be disliked (and may even be better, depending on the situation and circumstances). [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
This is because the preference of giving in the land one is in is because the needy of that land have more rights over one than those in another land. However, secondary considerationssuch as greater need, or closer family tiescould preponderate. [As understood from Ibn al-Humam/Marghinani, Fath al-Qadir `ala al-Hidaya]
And Allah alone gives success.