Question # 102: Can Zakat money be spend on dependent siblings in terms of their well-being and education?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: In fact, giving zakah to relatives is better than giving it to those who are not your relatives, because giving charity to relatives is both charity and upholding the ties of kinship. However, this is subject to the condition that you are not obliged to spend on them. Obligation to spend on them is dependent on your right to inheritance from them. In other words, if you have a brother, from whom no one will inherit except you, and you are able to spend on him, and he is poor, then it is not permissible for you to give him your zakah, because it is obligatory on you to spend on him from your wealth. But if this brother is poor and has children or the father or grandfather is still alive, then it is permissible for you to give him your zakah; because the existence of ascendants or descendants makes it non-obligatory on you to spend on him as you are not his heir.

Long Answer: Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about giving zakah to one’s brother and sister. He replied:  “If giving zakah to him means that your duty towards him will be waived, such as if it is obligatory for you to spend on his maintenance, but you give him zakah so that you save your money and do not spend on him, then this is not permissible, because zakah cannot be paid to protect wealth…” (Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen)

[The basic principle is that] you have to spend on them if you would inherit from them. If you would inherit from them, then it is not permissible to give them zakah, but if you would not inherit from them then there is nothing wrong with giving them zakah. [Therefore,] excluded from this are parents and those in the direct line of ascent, and children – male or female – and those in the direct line of descent; zakah should not be given to them even if they are poor [as] you are obliged to spend on them from your own wealth…

So it is permissible to give your zakah to someone who is related to you, subject to the condition that you are not obliged to spend on him. If you are obliged to spend on him, then you must spend on him, and it is not permissible for you to give your zakah to him.

[On the other hand,] giving zakah to relatives who are entitled to it is better than giving it to those who are not your relatives, because giving charity to relatives is both charity and upholding the ties of kinship. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Charity given to a poor person is charity, but charity given to a relative is two things, charity and upholding the ties of kinship.” (Narrated by al-Nasa’i; al-Tirmidhi; classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasa’i)

But if these relatives are among those on whom you are obliged to spend …but …your wealth is not sufficient to spend on them, then there is nothing wrong with giving them some of your zakah. Similarly, if they are in debt and you pay off their debts from your zakah, there is nothing wrong with your doing that, because a person is not obliged to pay off his relative’s debt, so if he pays it off from his zakah then that is fine. Even if it is your son or your father who owes a debt to someone and cannot pay it off, it is permissible for you to pay it off from your zakah. (Fatawa al-Shaykh Muhammad al-Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen)

Shaykh Muhammad al-Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen said: “[In the light of the above,] if… you have a brother from whom no one will inherit except you, and you are rich and are able to spend on him, and he is poor, then it is not permissible for you to give him your zakah, because what is obligatory for you is to spend on him from your wealth. But if this brother is poor and has children [or because the father or grandfather (father’s father) is still alive], then it is permissible for you to give him your zakah, because due to his having [ascendants or descendants], it is not obligatory for you to spend on him, because you are not his heir.” Jumu’ah khutbah (al-Majmoo’ah al-Saabi’ah)

(The above answer is based on various answers provided by Islamqa.info on the topic)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam