Can orphans receive zakat? If I want to give zakat to orphans, can I give it directly to the orphanage?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
We would like to state that zakat can only be received by the asnaf (eligible group of people) that has been stipulated by syarak. This is in accordance with the statement of Allah SWT in the Quran:
إِنَّمَا ٱلصَّدَقَٰتُ لِلۡفُقَرَآءِ وَٱلۡمَسَٰكِينِ وَٱلۡعَٰمِلِينَ عَلَيۡهَا وَٱلۡمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمۡ وَفِي ٱلرِّقَابِ وَٱلۡغَٰرِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ وَٱبۡنِ ٱلسَّبِيلِۖ فَرِيضَةٗ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٞ
“Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveller - an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.”
Surah al-Taubah (60)
The above verse stipulated the 8 groups of people who are eligible to receive zakat:
- Needy - One who has neither material possession nor means of livelihood; one who suffers and has no means to sustain his/her daily needs.
- Poor - One who has insufficient means of livelihood to meet his/her basic needs.
- Those employed to collect zakat (‘amil) - One who is appointed to collect Zakat and the expenses incurred in the administration of Zakat.
- Muallaf - One who recently embraced Islam.
- Al-Riqab - One who is freeing himself/herself from the bondage or shackles of slavery.
- Al-Gharimin - One who is in debt and needs assistance to meet his/her basic needs.
- Fi Sabilillah - One who went to war for the sake of Allah or who strives in the cause of Allah for the betterment of the community.
- Ibnu Sabil - Stranded travellers on a permissible journey.
The details and explanation of the above asnaf can be accessed through the official website of
Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) .
Can We Give Zakat to Orphans?
After knowing the eight asnaf that can receive zakat, thus it is clear that orphans are not included. Hence, merely being an orphan does not entitle him or her to receive zakat.
However, if the orphan is also among the poor and needy, then in this situation the orphan is eligible to receive zakat. As for giving zakat directly to the orphanage, we should first do our research in determining whether the orphanage is especially for the poor and needy orphans or others.
If the orphanage is for the poor and needy orphans, then it is permissible to give zakat. It should be distributed according to the asnaf set by syarak. The money from zakat should be used for food and drinks, education and daily needs of the orphans.
As for the development of the orphanage, there are opinions from scholars stating that only money from donations should be used, for construction of orphanages are not included as an asnaf for zakat. This is in accordance to the fatwa issued by former Mufti of Jordan Samahah al-Mufti al-‘Am Dr. Nuh Ali Salman Rahimahullah.
However, there are also opinions from other scholars that expand the meaning of fi sabillillah as not solely the action of going to war for Allah SWT’s sake. Imam Fakhr al-Razi al-Syafi’e Rahimahullah in his commentaries Mafatih al-Ghaib -also known as al-Kabirada Commentaries- states the opinion of al-Qaffal Rahimahullah saying that some fuqaha ruled it permissible to give zakat for anything that would result in good deeds, such as shrouding of a deceased, building a fort or a mosque, all of these falls under the asnaf of fi sabillilah. . Thus, giving zakat for the development of orphanages is permissible.
Hence, we suggest contacting Baitulmal to get more information and we encourage that payment of zakat is to be made through zakat centres, just as we have discussed in previous series of Irsyad al-Fatwa Series 95 : The Ruling of Paying Zakat through Government Institutions. Wallahua’lam.
 See Mafatih al-Ghaib, 16/113.