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Can the Once-Rich Receive Zakah?

12 June, 2021
Q As-salamu `alaykum. My brother used to work in the Middle East. He was very well-off then. When he came back to Pakistan, he invested the money he saved over there, but unfortunately that was all lost because of business failure. He is now working somewhere but has a very low income to support his family. Some people say that he is not eligible to receive Zakah, due to the fact that he has his own house and all the necessities of life, like a TV, refrigerator and telephone in his home. Keep in mind that all this was bought when he was working in the Middle East. Is he eligible for the Zakah? Should he sell his household things to support his family? Please, advise.


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:

If your brother’s income does not meet his basic needs, then you can give Zakah to him.

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In response to your question, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states,

The Shari`ah has allowed Zakah for the poor and the needy, as stated in Surat at-Tawbah: 60. According to the Muslim jurists, the poor are those who do not have anything, and the needy are those who have some things but they are not sufficient for their needs.

In Surat al-Kahf, verse 79, Allah called a group of people masakin (needy) although they owned a boat.

The Shari`ah also considers the changed conditions of time and place. The needs of people change according to the standards of time and place. The living standards of the people have changed very much now. What was considered as a luxury at one time is now a necessity.

Thus a TV, refrigerator or telephone are now common things in many households. A person is not considered rich if he has these things. Thus if a person has these things, but his income is not sufficient for his basic expenses, he is eligible for Zakah.

Allah Almighty knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.