Zakah: Payment in advance and to brothers

Q729 :My three brothers are unemployed. Two of them are married and their wives have received some gold from their parents at the time of their marriages. Since my brothers are poor, is it permissible for me to pay my zakah to them? Moreover, is it open to me to pay them my zakah for several years in advance to help them establish a business of their own, through which they may have an income to look after their families?

A729 : The general rule is that zakah may be paid to close relatives who are not entitled to be supported by the zakah payer. For example, zakah may not be paid to poor father, because it is obligatory to support the father if he does not have the means to look after himself financially. The reason for non-payment of zakah to such a poor father is that the payer would be actually paying his zakah to himself. It would simply reduce his duty to support his father. This is not permissible. You are not required by right to support your poor brothers, although you will be greatly rewarded if you do so. Therefore, you may help them with your zakah and you will be rewarded for that, Allah willing. The Prophet was asked whether sadaqah, or charity, can be given to relatives. He answered: "If it is paid to a poor person, it is sadaqah, but if it is paid to a relative, it is both sadaqah and kindness." This means that there is more reward to be gained by paying one's zakah and sadaqah to poor relatives. Many leading scholars agree that zakah may be paid in advance. Therefore, you may go ahead and pay your brothers your zakah for the next few years in order to help them establish their business. By doing so, you may achieve the very important objective of making your brothers self-sufficient. This is indeed the purpose of zakah. What you should do is to calculate approximately how much zakah you will be paying each year. If you know that you will average a saving of say one hundred thousand a year, your zakah liability will be 2500. You may pay your brothers ten thousand now, making your intention clear in your mind that you are paying 2500 of zakah for each of the following four years. At the end of each zakah year, which is the date when you first owned an amount of money equivalent to the threshold of zakah, you have to calculate your zakah liability. If it is more than 2500, you have to make up the difference. If it is less than that, you cannot go to your brothers and claim the difference from them or consider it as a loan on account of your zakah for future years. The extra amount will be credited to you by Allah as charitable donation or sadaqah. You will be rewarded for that undoubtedly.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )