Zakah : A mutual social security system devised by Allah

Q717 :Sometime back when I was on vacation, someone I know needed financial help. I gave her some of my zakah, which was a substantial amount. I did not mention that what I gave her was zakah money, but I told her not to return the money, as I had no need for it. Six months later, she came back with the money and insisted that I take it back. I was embarrassed and I could not but take the money back. I gave it to another person who approached me some while earlier for financial help. The same thing happened. That person brought the money back two months later. This was repeated several times over a period of 18 months, with the same amount coming back to me about 6 times. I finally gave it to someone who needed help badly and who could not return it. In all these cases, I did not mention that the money was from my zakah. Many people in our area would not take help once they know that it is zakah. Please comment.

A717 : You did the right thing in not telling these people that the money you were giving them was part of your zakah. As you say some people feel too embarrassed to take zakah funds, although they need not have such a feeling if they truly qualify as beneficiaries of zakah. To accept zakah does not degrade anyone, because the system of zakah is devised by Allah to make mutual social security a characteristic of Muslim Society. Those who need help take it from those who can give it and both are rewarded by Allah. Perhaps it would have been better if you told the first lady when she brought the money back to put it to some charitable use. You should have insisted, as you probably had done, that you did not expect a return of the money and, therefore, you would rather have her retain it or give it away to poor people. She might still have preferred to give it back to you, but she would have had the chance to help in putting it to the right use. The point I would like to make in commenting on your story is that perhaps you need to look again at the people to who you give your zakah. Are you certain that they qualify as beneficiaries of zakah? Not every person who may be in urgent need of help may quality as a zakah beneficiary. Allah tells us in the Qur'an that there are eight classes of people who can benefit by zakah. The first two are "the poor and the needy". The first woman in your sequence of payees might not have belonged to either class. She was simply passing through a period of difficulty but she was clear in her mind that 'that' difficulty was temporary and that she would be able to repay the money later on. Indeed, she came back with it a few months later. Probably her need was simply temporary. That in itself does not mean that she does not qualify for zakah, but you should have looked at her circumstances more carefully. Perhaps the same applies to all those persons to whom you tried to give your zakah. You say that one of them insisted that what he was taking from you was to be considered a loan. He certainly felt that he could pay it back. He would have refused it if he knew that you were paying him your zakah, although he was in need of help at that particular moment. He might have explained that his circumstances were such that he did not qualify as a beneficiary of zakah. You say that ultimately you managed to give it to someone who was badly in need of help and could not return the money. Perhaps you should have made sure of such a selection in the first place.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )