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Giving alms (Zakat) is required by all eligible Muslims as per the third pillar of Islam, but there are strict rules surrounding what causes are permissible for Zakat to be given. For those new to the community or without the guidance of an imam, the Zakat rules can be somewhat confusing and it can be seemingly difficult to identify an admissible person and/or cause to make the recipient of your due Zakat. 

Here at Orphans in Need, we are a registered charity focused on helping destitute orphans and widows. One of the most frequent questions we get asked is: ‘does sponsoring an orphan count as Zakat?’. In short, the answer is yes, sponsoring an orphan does count as Zakat. This is because sponsoring an orphan is one of the eight categories as set out in the Qur’an under the guidelines for acceptable Zakat beneficiaries. 

To clarify some of the rules surrounding what counts as Zakat and why sponsoring an orphan through Orphans in Need is a plausible means for paying Zakat, we’ve pulled together some of the main points surrounding giving alms. 

Who Can Receive Zakat?

Chapter nine, verse 60 of the Qur’an lays out the eight categories that are permissible as Zakat recipients. They include:

  • People who are classified as poor and/or in need
  • Those who are classified as destitute
  • Organisations permitted to collect and subsequently distribute Zakat
  • People who are being held against their will
  • Those who have accumulated unmanageable debt
  • People who are travelling and who have run out of resources
  • Those who are acting and/or fighting for Allah’s cause

Sponsoring an orphan through Orphans in Need meets several of the criteria listed above. Orphaned children are generally destitute and in urgent need of basic resources. In addition to this, Orphans in Need is a charity that is registered to collect and distribute Zakat. This means you can donate your Zakat to us and rest in the knowledge that your contribution will help an underprivileged child and your generosity will please Allah (SWT). 

Rules Around Giving Zakat 

There are a number of instances where a person may qualify as a Zakat recipient under the rules listed above, but they will not be able to receive your Zakat because of other mitigating factors. Such instances include:

  • Giving Zakat to your wife
  • Giving Zakat to your son/daughter
  • Giving Zakat to your parents

A husband has a duty to provide for his wife all year round, and as such, he cannot give Zakat to her – even if she falls into one of the eight permissible categories – based on the fact he should be supporting her anyway.

In a similar manner, parents have a duty to provide for their children and children have a responsibility to look after their elder parents. An orphaned child is one who has lost either one or both of their parents. If a child has lost one of their parents and is in the care of the other, the surviving parent cannot give their Zakat directly to their child because they should be providing for them regardless. 

This means the immediate family are not acceptable beneficiaries for Zakat, with the exception of siblings and aunts/uncles since there is no expectation of these two groups being dependents. The final exception to this rule is wives giving Zakat to their husbands. Wives do not have a responsibility to look after their husbands which means, should their husband qualify for Zakat, they may give it to him.

Aside from who can receive Zakat, one of the most important rules pertains to the intention with which Zakat is given. In order for a donation to count as Zakat, it must be given with the sole intent of being for Zakat. This means if you sponsor an orphan through Orphans in Need but do not do so with the sole intention of it being an act of alms, it will not count towards Zakat. Rather, it will count as Sadaqah Jariyah, and whilst you will be rewarded by Allah (SWT) for such a donation, you will not be fulfilling your religious duty of giving alms. 

How to Sponsor an Orphan 

Zakat can be given at any time of the year and we gratefully accept donations of orphan sponsorships all year round. Many Muslims choose to donate Zakat through an orphan sponsorship during the last 10 days of Ramadan as it is believed the rewards associated with giving at this time of year are greater than at any other time of year. 

You may choose to give Zakat to Orphans in Need during Ramadan, or you can give it at any other stage of the year and it will be gratefully received and used to provide provisions for orphaned children.

To sponsor an orphan with Orphans in Need and fulfil your religious duties, calculate your Zakat and go to our sponsorship page. For more information about orphan sponsorship through Orphans in Need, please contact us.


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