Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
I am an unemployed housewife. My husband is stingy. I have been using my savings to buy food and other necessities. I also pay my daughter’s Islamic School fee. I spend around $800 a month. Now my savings had left $22 500. This year, I feel heavy to give my zakat to other people as I am the one who need the money more. Can I use my zakat to pay for my daughter’s fee?
Answer: Assalam alaykum sister, thank you for your question. I’m sorry to hear about your difficult financial situation. It’s unfortunate that you have been left to take on this responsibility, which should not be yours in the first place. May Allah makes things easy for you.
The general ruling is that a parent cannot give their zakat to their own children. However, this ruling may change depending on a number of factors, including whether the child is pre-pubescent or post-pubescent (baligh).
When working out if zakat is permissible to give to one’s child, there are a lot of aspects to consider, and would need further details of the case. There are quite a few practical considerations as well, which can be become complex, especially if the child is still young. For this reason, I will just mention here the possible practical solutions for you.
1. If there is a legal court you can take the case to, then you can do this, so that they enforce the father to pay for the upkeep of the child (as well as yours and any other dependent).
2. If there is no option of law enforcement, then you would be legally permitted to take from the father’s money, without permission, whatever is needed for the obligatory financial maintenance of yourself and any other of his dependents, though obviously you must be careful when doing this, for your own safety.
3. If the above is not possible, then please read the following.
Giving zakat to an ‘adult’ dependant
If your daughter has reached puberty, then it would be permissible to give your zakat to her. However, by giving her your zakat she owns the money and it is not obligatory that she spends it on her school fees.
Giving zakat to a pre-pubescent dependant
If your daughter is pre-pubescent, then the most practical steps would be to either:
A. Give your zakat to your 20-year-old son, if he fulfils the legal conditions of a ‘poor’ person (see point B below). If he then chooses to pay for his sister’s studies, then this would be permissible, as a sibling is not obligated to pay for another sibling’s upkeep.
However, do be aware that by giving your son the money as zakat, it belongs to him, and he can choose to do whatever he wants with it after receiving it. It is disliked to agree between the both of you that he use it for his sister before physically giving him the money, and prohibited at the point of giving him the money.
Giving Zakat in this way is valid, but generally disliked. Normally it would not be given as an option, however, if you are being forced into a difficult situation, there is some leeway.
B. In the Shafi’i school, a ‘poor’ person is someone who does not have enough to cover all his own needs and that of his dependents. What is meant by ‘enough’ is that one possesses enough money that they could invest it in a property or similar investment, and the profit would suffice them for their remaining lifespan (up to 60 years old). This covers a broad range of people. If they do not have this amount, then they are considered poor.
The amount of savings you mentioned you possess, even though it may seem a large amount of money, does not seem that it would not provide this, and since you are busy raising your family, then you yourself may be considered legally ‘poor’ in the Shafi’i school, and so entitled to zakat from others, which may help you make ends meet. However, if possible, please go over your details with a local scholar to confirm this applies.
[Tuhfa al Muhtaj, Bughyat al Mustarshidin, Mughni al Muhtaj, Nihayat al Muhtaj]
I’m sure the situation must be very testing for you. May Allah make things easy for you and the family. Perhaps the following may also be of help:
– Try getting a third party, such as a friend, family member, or local scholar, to speak to your husband and persuade him to pay for yours and your child’s upkeep.
– Make plenty of du’a. You may find the following supplication helpful,
اللَّهُمَّ اكْفِنِي بِحَلَالِكَ عَنْ حَرَامِكَ وَأَغْنِنِي بِفَضْلِكَ عَمَّنْ سِوَاكْ
Oh Allah, suffice me with things that You have made halal so that I may abstain from things that You have made haram, and enrich me with Your grace so that I am not in need of anyone besides You.
May Allah grant you an easy way out of every difficulty.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.