Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi 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:
In responding to your question, Prof. Dr. Monzer Kahf, Professor of Islamic Finance and Economics at Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, states:
The principle is that Zakat Al-Fitr can be given to any and all the eight categories to whom Zakat Al-Mal is given as mentioned in Verse 9:60. There is a view (the Malikites and Ibn Taymiyah from the Hanbalites, that it is only to the poor and needy.)
In practice, in our time of famine and hunger in many parts of the Muslim world, I would say that both Zakat Al-Fitr and Zakat Al-Mal should be given, as much as possible, to the poor and needy, especially those who are under poverty and foreign military occupation.
I would not consider such a family, as you described, a deserving of Zakat Al-Fitr or of Zakat Al-Mal. But I am fully aware that there are Muslim families who deserve it in America on the basis of poverty.
There are families who have trouble with immigration and because of that have troubles with working and earning and with getting a welfare support from the government, too.
Many of these may deserve under the title of poverty in America. We still must not deny the priority of people who are literally dying out of hunger or lack of medicine in many Muslim countries and those who are deprived of their own resources by foreign military occupation.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.