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Support to minor children, wife and -if necessary - parents is obligatory, but support for others is facultative.

Zakât as support for persons in need can be given on a personal level (which is quite common in non-Muslim countries).

How are the rulings for giving to (more or less) far relatives of oneself or of the wife?

Side question: Are the rulings for a woman the same?


Concrete example: I pay (stately) school fees for the children of sisters of my wife in Kenya and a cousin of myself in Somaliland. The parents cannot afford this. Should I count this as Zakât?

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  • In Islam both children have a right over their parents wealth and parents have a right over their children's wealth therefore financial supporting on these levels is more a good deed and a duty than a sadaqah or zakat. In other words this support can be excluded from the wealth on which zakat applies. This at least should be a clear exclusion. However potentially your wife and her family for sure don't count as relatives of such a degree.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 7:17

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According to the majority, the relatives who can not be given Zakat are only your ancestors, descendants, and wives. The reason is either one of the following:

  • you derive benefit from the property of these relatives so that giving them is essentially equal to giving yourself

  • these are the ones whose maintenance is obligatory on you, and one obligation can not be eliminated by merging it with another

According to a minority view it extends to all those blood relations who are your heirs.

Your wife's sister is not your ancestor nor descendant, nor your blood relative, and can never be your heir. Your cousin is not your ancestor or descendant, however in rare cases they can be your heirs.

Note however that we are not a fatwa site, there are other considerations that need to be examined before you can give your Zakat. For example the recipient must be Muslim and must qualify as a needy person. Also it is required by some views that you make them owners of the money to spend it as they please, so the help you are giving might not count as Zakat.


Ref:

Those who allow for payment of Zakat to relatives rely on the following hadith, however it is debatable whether this is about Zakat or about supererogatory charity:

‏ فقالت زينب امرأة عبد الله أيجزيني من الصدقة أن أتصدق على زوجي وهو فقير وبني أخ لي أيتام وأنا أنفق عليهم هكذا وهكذا وعلى كل حال قال ‏نعم ‏ ‏

Zainab, the wife of Abdullah said: 'Will it be accepted as charity on my part if I give charity to my husband who is poor, and to the children of a brother of mine who are orphans, spending such and such on them, and in all circumstances?'

(The Messenger of Allah ﷺ) said: 'Yes'

لها أجران أجر الصدقة وأجر القرابة

She will have two rewards, the reward for charity and the reward for upholding ties of kinship.

Ibn Majah

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