Wa `alaykum As-Salamu waRahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
It is permissible to give zakat al-fitr and the zakah of one’s wealth to poor relatives, provided that the poor relative is not someone whom you are obliged to support. Giving it to relatives is better than giving it to strangers, because giving it to relatives is both charity and upholding the ties of kinship.
Answering your question, the late Saudi scholar, Sheikh Ibn `Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him), states:
Zakat Al-Fitr is a special charity of the month of Ramadan. This charity should be given during the month of Ramadan anytime before the Eid al-Fitr prayer.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) enjoined Zakat Al-Fitr so that those who fast are purified of their sins and the poor and needy people are enabled to arrange for their basic needs of food, clothing etc.
It is permissible to give zakat al-fitr and the zakah of one’s wealth to poor relatives, and indeed giving it to relatives is better than giving it to strangers, because giving it to relatives is both charity and upholding the ties of kinship.
But that is subject to the condition that by giving it he is not protecting his wealth, which would be the case if the poor person is one on whom he is obliged to spend. In that case, it is not permissible for him to meet the other person’s needs with any of his zakah, because if he does that then he is saving his wealth with what he gives of zakah, and that is not permissible or allowed.
But if he is not obliged to spend on him, then he may give his zakah to him, and in fact giving his zakah to him is better than giving it to a stranger, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Your charity given to a relative is both charity and upholding the ties of kinship.” (Majmu` Fatawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 18, question no. 301)
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.