Is it permissible to give zakah to one’s grandfather and grandchild?

The Details of the Question

- Can a person give zakah to or receive zakah from his grandparents or grandchildren?
- I would be glad if you gave detailed information according to all madhhabs.

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Fiqh scholars discussed whether zakah should be given to relatives or not by associating it with the issue of nafaqah (sustenance/livelihood). Although the disagreements and ijtihad differences regarding the issue were largely due to differences of opinion on the issue of nafaqah, rather than difference in evidence, each madhhab’s approach to the issue was different.

According to Hanafis, the only people among whom it is not permissible to give or receive zakah are parents, children, grandchildren and grandparents. That is, a person cannot receive zakah from or give zakah to his mother, father, grandchild, grandmother and grandfather because there is the law of benefiting from each other’s property among those people; they will have given the property to themselves if they give and receive zakah among themselves.

Therefore, the deed of “giving zakah” is not considered to have been fully realized. There is no difference between their being from the poor class or from another class.

According to Hanafis, close relatives such as brothers and uncles can receive zakah directly from one another though there are people who are responsible for nafaqah among them. It is even more virtuous to give zakah to such people.(1)

According to Malikis, the only people among whom it is not permissible to give or receive zakah are parents and children because they are people who are responsible for nafaqah, except for the mother.

Malikis disagreed on whether people who are not responsible for nafaqah between them such as grandparents and grandchildren can give zakah to one another.

Giving zakah to those people is permissible according to some scholars, not permissible according to some others, makruh according to some others and mustahab according to some others. It is understood from Maliki texts that the makruh view belongs to Imam Malik.(2)

Thus, it is seen that Malikis distinguish between the issues of zakah and nafaqah in some places.

According to Shafiis, the only relatives for whom it is not permissible to give zakah to one another are parents, children, grandchildren and grandparents. One of those people cannot give zakah to another or receive zakah from him/her because zakah is given to the needy; since they are the people who have the responsibility of providing nafaqah, the person in need is considered rich due to the nafaqah that he will receive from his wealthy relative.

It is permissible to give zakah to and to receive zakah from other close relatives such as brothers and uncles.(3)

According to Hanbalis, the only people among whom it is not permissible to give and receive zakah are mothers, fathers, children, grandchildren, grandfathers and grandmothers. There is no difference between them being inheritors to one another because they are the pillars of a lineage; they are generally the people who benefit from the property of one another and have the responsibility of nafaqah; if one of them gives zakah to another, it means avoiding nafaqah, which is wajib and hence is regarded as giving zakah to oneself.  

As for close relatives such as brothers and uncles, it is permissible to give zakah to a person who, for any reason, cannot inherit his relatives who have to give zakah. Suppose that there are three people: owner of property, his son, and his uncle. In that case, the uncle cannot inherit the property of the owner, since the owner’s son deprives the owner’s uncle of inheritance. Therefore, it is permissible for the uncle to receive zakah from the owner.

There is a disagreement among Hanbalis about whether it is permissible to give zakah to the close relatives who may be heirs to each other; it is permissible according to some scholars and not permissible according to others. The view of those who argue that it is permissible is accepted as the stronger view in Hanbali madhhab. In addition, close relatives who are dhawil-arham can receive zakah even if they are heirs. (4)

To sum up, it is understood that the people among whom it is not permissible to give or receive zakah are parents and children according to the fiqh scholars of the four madhhabs, and according to some fiqh scholars other than Malikis, in addition to parents and children, are also grandparents and grandchildren.

According to other fiqh scholars, except for some Hanbalis, it is permissible for close relatives to receive zakah from each other. (5)

References:

1) Sarakhsi, al-Mabsut, 3: 11; Qasani, Badaius-sanai’, 2: 483; Ibnul-Humam, Sharhu Fathil-Qadir, 2: 274.
2) Sahnun, al-Mudawwana, 1: 297; Qarafi, az-Zahira, 3: 141; Ghirnati, al-Qawaninul-Fikhiyya, 214.
3) Shafii, al-Umm, 3: 200; Mawardi, al-Hawil-Kabir, 8: 535; Nawawi, al-Majmu’, 6: 222.
4) Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni, 4: 98-99; Mardawi, al-Insaf, 3: 254-260; Abu Ishaq Burhanuddin Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. Muflih, al-Mubdi’ fi Sharhil-Muqni’, thq. Muhammad Hasan Muhammad Hasan Ismail ash-Shafii, (Beirut: Darul-Kutubil-Ilmiyya, 1418/1997), 2: 418-423.
5) see Muhammed Çuçak, Nafaka Yükümlüsünün Nafakası ile Sorumlu Olduğu Kimselere Zekât Vermesinin Fıkhi Açıdan Değerlendirilmesi, BÜİFD, Issue: 13, Year: 2019/1, pp. 311-331.

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