Q: How should Islamic charities balance the obligation to give Zakat to local people in need (i.e. in the same countries as their donors) versus giving Zakat to people in need internationally?
الجواب حامدا ومصليا ومسلما ومنه الصدق والصواب
A: There are several competing reasons as to how and where we should pay our zakat. For example, it is commendable to distribute zakat amongst relatives as this also strengthens kinship ties. On the other hand the need of an unrelated poor person may be greater than that of a relative. Similarly, the need of someone abroad or further afield may be greater than that of someone in the UK or in the immediate vicinity and vice versa. Whilst the first call upon zakat monies is by those closest to the wealth, those with heightened need also have a reason to lay claim. Therefore, it is difficult to state in absolute terms that the disbursement of zakat must always be prioritised locally as opposed to meeting needs internationally. Where the competing needs are of equal status it is undoubted better and even arguably a strong imperative to distribute the zakat in the vicinity of the wealth. It is reprehensible but not prohibited not to so.