Can we pay our zakat and khums to an orphan who lost his father?


A man recently passed away and left a five year old son and an eight year old daughter. Can we pay our zakat/khums towards their education and expenses?


In the absence of the children’s father, if the paternal grandfather of the children is alive and able to look after them financially, then it is his obligation to do so, and they do not qualify to receive khums or zakat.

If, however, the paternal grandfather is not alive or unable to maintain them financially, then they qualify to receive zakat. They also qualify to receive khums, with the permission of the Marja’. So if their maternal grandmother wants to give her zakat or part of her khums to them, she can do this.

Please see below for a brief explanation of zakat and khums.

– Zakat: this is usually 2.5% of what a person posseses of particular commodities only, as per the narration below. The people who qualify to receive Zakat include (among others): the poor and the destitute, and those who are overwhelmed with debt and cannot repay it.
“Allah made obligatory, along with prayers, the Zakat of wealth. Then the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) obligated Zakat with regards to nine things and excused other things from Zakat. (The nine things which he obligated are): gold and silver, camels, cows and sheep and wheat, barley, dates and raisins. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) excused other things from the Zakat.”

– Khums: this is 20% of a person’s excess wealth (in almost whatever form this wealth may be). See the ayah below. Among the people who qualify to receive khums are orphans. However, the khums is distributed through the general representatives of our present Imam (atfs) during his occultation, and these are the Mujtahids of our time.

“And know that whatever of earnings that you may gain, verily one-fifth (1/5th) of it is assigned to Allah, and to the Messenger, and to the near relatives (of the Messenger) (and also) the orphans, Al-Masakin (the poor) and the wayfarer…”

Answered by: Dr Ali Alsamail
Certified by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei