Who Is Eligible To Receive Zakāt al-Fitr by Shaykh Abū Ḥakīm Bilāl ibn Aḥmad Davis

Pivotal Quotes

“Those eligible to receive it (the poor) are of two categories:

  1. The fuqarā’
  2. The masākīn

These two categories of individuals fall under ‘needy’, but there is a difference between the two.


A sister is divorced and has custody of her three children, and the ex-husband who is supposed to be supporting the children financially is not. She currently has him in the court system for child maintenance. She can barely make ends meet. Does she have to pay Zakāt al-Fiṭr for them? 


As it relates to Zakāt al-Fiṭr the people are of one of two categories:

 In terms of the aḥkām (rulings) of Zakāt al-Fiṭr they are either:

  1. Those who are eligible to pay it
  2. Or they are those who are eligible to receive it

Those eligible to receive it (the poor) are of two categories:

  1. The fuqarā’
  2. The masākīn

These two categories of individuals fall under ‘needy’, but there is a difference between the two. 

Some scholars hold that the faqīr is the one who is destitute and has absolutely nothing, while the miskīn is the one that has something but it is not enough to make ends meet and some hold that the opposite is true. Allāh knows best, the first position is what is most correct, that is that the faqīr is the one that is poor and destitute and the miskīn is the one that has something, but it is not enough to make ends meet.

The story of Mūsá and Khaḍr:

One of the evidences that the scholars use for that, is the statement of Allāh (عز وجل) as it occurs in the story of Mūsá and Khaḍr (عَلَيهما ٱلصَّلَاةُ وَٱلسَّلَامُ). As far as Mūsá and Khaḍr, then if you are familiar with Sūratul Kahf, then you will know that there is a story where Allāh speaks about Mūsá and Khaḍr, that Allāh (عز وجل) sent Khaḍr to Mūsá so that he may benefit from him and to highlight to him that there is someone that is in the dunya that was given more knowledge than he was at that particular time. So he (Mūsá) went to meet Khaḍr. When he met Khaḍr, Khaḍr said: “You can follow me and you can benefit from me as long as you don’t ask me concerning what I do.” During their journey, he (Khaḍr) carried out a number of things:

  1. They embarked on a journey where they had to cross a river and there were some people who working on the river trying to make ends meet, they had a boat and they would charge to bring people across the river. He (Khaḍr) made a hole in their boat which prevented them from using the boat.
  2. Similarly they went to a township where Khaḍr came across a young boy and he killed the young boy.
  3. They continued and went to another township that refused to host them. Brothers and sisters, in those days there were no hotels, so if you were a wayfarer, the people of a particular place would have to look after you. While they were wayfarers, the people of that village refused to host them. As travelers and wayfarers, they had to continue on their journey without being hosted and without having anywhere to rest. As they were leaving the township, Khaḍr built the wall that was falling down. It took time for him to build the whole wall back up. Mūsá said: “You should have taken payment for that,” (especially after the way they were treated). Khaḍr then said: “This is going to be the parting between me and you and I will now tell you why I did what I did.” Allāh (عز وجل) mentions, (and this is the point of evidence that we are coming to)

 ﴾أَمَّا السَّفِينَةُ فَكَانَتْ لِمَسَاكِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ فِي الْبَحْرِ فَأَرَدْتُ أَنْ أَعِيبَهَا وَكَانَ وَرَاءَهُمْ مَلِكٌ يَأْخُذُ كُلَّ سَفِينَةٍ غَصْبًا﴿

“As for the ship, it belonged to Masākīn (poor people) working in the sea. So I wished to make a defective damage in it, as there was a king after them who seized every ship by force.” [Sūrah Al-Kahf 18:79]

As far as the ship, then it was owned by some masākīn, some poor people who worked upon the waters and there was a tyrannical king that was taking anyone who was on those waters as slaves. Khaḍr put a whole in the boat so that they could not go out into the water so they would not be taken as slaves. Of course, Khaḍr knew this was going to happen and they did not.

The point of evidence is where the scholars mention regarding: “As far as the ship was concerned, then it was owned by masākīn”, means that it was owned by someone who was referred to as miskīn. Even though they were referred to as masākīn, they still owned a boat, which in our time, is the possession of the wealthy. The reality is, that was their possession and it was the one thing they had to make ends meet. Even though they had a possession which was a boat, it did not cause them to leave the realms of being considered miskīn.

It may well be that one of our sisters or one of our brothers is in a situation that they have some possessions. And it may be that people argue with them regularly and say: “You are not miskīn, you are not considered poor because you have this and you have that and you have a place and so on and so forth.” However, these possessions do not necessarily necessitate that a person is now in the realms of the wealthy. Since the miskīn may well have some possessions but he or she does not have enough to make ends meet and to take care of those who are under their jurisdiction.

With that being the case, it would appear that the sister is deserving of Zakāt al-Fiṭr. Zakāt al-Fiṭr is there so that everyone is able to enjoy and have something to eat during ʿ Īd. It would appear that the sister herself is the one that Zakāt al-Fiṭr should be paid to and not that Zakāt al-Fiṭr is an obligation upon her if she does not have the wherewithal to make ends meet with her responsibilities and the children and other than that. We advise her ex-husband to fear Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى) and to take care of his responsibilities in relation to those children and to make the situation easy for the sister by taking care of his responsibilities and Allāh knows best.

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