Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
This is the first year that I owe zakat, and I spoke to my father about it (I live at home with my parents). He told me of some relatives overseas that really need the money and would be considered “needy.” He said I could give the money to him and he would send it overseas. However, he encountered a local brother in a dire / emergency situation who would also be considered “needy” and gave him my zakat money. My father then told me *afterwards* who he gave it to. Would this be considered a valid payment of my zakat and is the obligation lifted from me? Would I have had to be the person *directly* giving the money to the deserving person, or does my father suffice?
In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
If you had asked your father to give out your zakat money on your behalf, then you made him your agent (wakeel) in paying your zakat. Then, as long as your father gave it to a zakat-eligible person (and you had not explicitly specified how to give it out), your zakat payment is valid.
[It is valid to make another you agent to pay zakat; the intention of the zakat payer is then needed only at the time of making the other person their agent, as Ibn Abidin and other mention.]