Paying Zakāh To A Deserving Brother

Question

Four brothers are living in a rented house along with their parents. Two elder brothers contribute for running the house. One of them pays the rent and other pays for groceries and bills. The rent paying brother has a good job and pays regular rent of a joint house, other expenses of his wife and children and medical care of parents but the other one is not a man of means and always struggles to make both ends meet and buys groceries on loans from the shop keeper to fulfill his obligations in the combined family. This poor brother is now under debt to fulfill his responsibilities in the house for the past few months. Q.1. Now can the first brother pay-off the debt of his brother(s) to the grocery shop and utility bills from ZAKAT as he is already paying and helping his family more than other family members and also in a ZAKAT paying position?


Answer

We believe it is not only allowable but good to spend the zakah on the near relatives. Many people dislike it but an independent brother is not our responsibility. When we contribute to them we are doing good, an act of piety, a form of worship to God. The nearest the person is to us the more rightful of our zakah he is. We believe even if one believes that one's brother or sister would not like to be helped this way we may not tell them what we are paying them from the payable zakah. God knows our intentions and the hindrances in our way. He is extremely wise, just and merciful. We should therefore, try to help our near ones as much as we can through personal gifts and zakah. However, one thing must remain clear to the one who gives away zakah to his brother; he must not reveal the nature of the help to the latter. He needs to appreciate that he is discharging his duty to God Almighty Allah. He is not favoring his brother. Therefore, he may never intend to take any advantage and seek any return in any form whatsoever.

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