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 his response to your question, Prof. Dr. Monzer Kahf, Professor of Islamic Finance and Economics at Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, states:
Zakah is a personal obligation on every person who has income or wealth more than his/her personal and family needs.
A “person” means that each person who satisfies this condition must pay it to be a Muslim in the sense of the word. One person may pay it on behalf of another, such as a husband paying the Zakah on behalf of his wife.
Doing this, the other person must know that and authorize, implicitly or explicitly, this payment. This is because it is one of the acts of worship that are required of every Muslim similar to prayers.
Paying Zakah without publicity is better unless one knows that publicizing it encourages other people to give their own Zakah, i.e., when publicity becomes like a reminder to others.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) urged that general charity be given without publicity and the same rule applies to Zakah too because it is a charily although obligatory.
The recipient needs not be informed that it is Zakah especially when it is paid to people who are really poor but they do not look so to an extent that superficial persons may think of them as rich as described in the Qur’an.
Of course, one cannot pay Zakah to himself or any one whose expenses are of his responsibility. For instance, while a wife may pay her Zakah to her husband if he is really poor, he cannot pay his Zakah to his wife or parents or grandparents because he is responsible for their expenses if they are poor.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.