The wealth of information on Zakat (zakaat, zakah) is usually focused on how to pay Zakat and whether someone is eligible to pay Zakat.
Above all, it is important to factor in who is eligible to receive Zakat. This forms part of the validity of your Zakat donation. Zakat is not a form of Sadaqah (voluntary charity). Unlike Zakat, anyone in need can receive Sadaqah at any time.
Zakat is an obligatory form of charity. Every Muslim who meets the eligibility criterion must pay Zakat. The donations are then re-distributed to the Muslim community on an annual basis.
There are eight factors that determine whether someone is eligible to receive Zakat. Therefore, separating the recipients of Zakat into eight categories of people. These include, as stipulated in the Qur’an by Allah (SWT):
“Indeed, the prescribed charitable offerings are only to be given to the
1. The poor
2. The needy
3. To those who work on administering it
4. Those who have a reconciliation of heart (those who have embraced Islam or are inclined to it)
5. To free those in bondage
6. To the debt-ridden
7. For the cause of God
8. To the wayfarer
This is an obligation from God. And God is all-knowing, all-wise.” [Qur’an 9:60]
In summary, these eight ordained categories can help you determine Zakat eligibility on a yearly basis.
The recipient must not belong to your immediate family. For example, your spouse, children or parents if you subscribe to the Hanafi and Hanbali madhaab. However, in the Shafi and Maliki madhaabs, you are able to give Zakat to immediate family. This is as long as their maintenance is not your responsibility. However, other relatives can receive your Zakat.