Question # 343: What is the difference between fuqaraa and masakeen?

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: The difference between the fuqara’ and masaakeen is that the fuqara’ are in greater need; one of them cannot find enough to suffice himself and his dependents for half a year. The masaakeen are better off than the fuqara’, because they can find half of what will suffice them or more. These people should be given zakaah because of their need. However, if these two words, fuqara’ and masaakeen are mentioned separately, the meanings for both of them are intended. And if they are mentioned together, then they have their own meanings.

Long Answer: There are eight categories on which zakaah must be spent, which Allah has explained clearly. He states that this is a duty imposed by Allah and that it is based on knowledge and wisdom. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “As-Sadaqaat (here it means Zakaah) are only for the Fuqaraa’ (poor), and AlMasaakeen (the poor) and those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s Cause (i.e. for Mujaahidoon — those fighting in a holy battle), and for the wayfarer (a traveller who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise” (Soorah at-Taubah, 9:60)

The first and second are the fuqara’ and masaakeen (the poor and needy). They should be given zakaah to meet their needs. The difference between the fuqara’ and masaakeen is that the fuqara’ are in greater need; one of them cannot find enough to suffice himself and his dependents for half a year. The masaakeen are better off than the fuqara’, because they can find half of what will suffice them or more. These people should be given zakaah because of their need.

(The above reply is based on various answers by Islamqa.info)

According to Ibn Uthaymeen: “If these two words are mentioned separately the meanings for both of them are intended. And if they are mentioned together they have their own meanings. This resembles words like Iman and Islam” (Abu Aaliyah Abdullah)

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