Ruling on buying a house for the poor with Zakah money

Dear Sir, As salam u alikum. I have a question regardsing the spending of the Zakat money. My Wife's Grandmoter (maternal) is very old, and lonely, with none of her children caring for her. She has been living in very difficult times for the past many years now. I intend to use the Zakat Amount from my savings (AlhamduLillah, it is a resonable amount) to construct a house for her to live in and find some peace in. Is this a permissable use of Zakat money. I understand that Zakat should be utilized for the benefit of many as compared to the benefit of one, however this was a case where the deserving is a family member, and on top of that a place of shelter has become a dire need for the old lady. Please advise. Thank you Tashfeen

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The poor person who is eligible for Zakah is the person who does not possess anything at all, or the one who has a little amount of money or earning that does not suffice him as per the Fiqh Encyclopedia.

It is permissible to give all the due Zakah to one person who would fulfill with it all his needs as long as he is eligible for Zakah because distributing the entire Zakah of one person on all the categories of the people who are eligible for Zakah or on more than one category is neither  mandatory nor is it desirable according to the most preponderant opinion of the scholars. Rather, the person paying the Zakah should do what is more appropriate according to the need (of the available recipients of the Zakah).

Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: “It is not appropriate to consider dividing the Zakah equally between all the categories (of the people who are eligible for Zakah) as an obligation, nor as a desirable act, but the Zakah should be given according to the need and benefit of its recipients, just as, in principle, deserving the Zakah is conditioned on that (i.e. their need and benefit)...

Some scholars are of the view that it is permissible to give Zakah to the poor to buy a house, because housing is one of the necessities of life as it is known, but provided the two following conditions are met: First: The poor does not possess an accommodation that is enough for him and his children. Second: He should be incapable of finding housing even by renting which does not surpasses his ability to pay for it.

However, Shaykh ‘Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him is of the view that the poor is not to be bought a house from the Zakah money, but an accommodation should be rented for him, and the remaining Zakah money should be given to other poor people. He  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his Fataawa in the Noor 'Ala Ad-Darb program: "I do not see that it is permissible to pay Zakah to buy a house for a poor person, because buying a house requires a lot of money. If it was intended to fulfill the need of the poor, then an accommodation could be rented for him. For example, a house could be rented for a poor man for ten years for 10,000 Riyals, and if we were to buy him a house, we will not find a house except for 100,000 or 200,000 Riyals, then it is not permissible to pay him this amount and deprive other poor people. So, we say: we would rent an accommodation for the poor, and when the rent period is finished, and he is still poor, then we will rent for him again. But, concerning buying him a house from the Zakah money, I am not of the view that this is permissible. Yes, if there is any scholar who issued a Fatwa that this is permissible, then it is an issue of Ijtihaad (scholarly diligence)."

It appears that what Shaykh ‘Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him has mentioned is more appropriate to act upon in the case mentioned in question; so a house could be rented for that old lady, and if she is again in need for accommodation [after the rent period is over], then the same should be done again [i.e. a house should be  rented for her again] and so forth. In this manner, her need will be fulfilled and other poor people would benefit from the remaining Zakah money.

For more benefit on the categories of people who are eligible for Zakah and the ruling of giving it to the relatives of the wife, please refer to Fataawa 88368 and 145697.

Allaah Knows best.

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