Is disbursing Zakāt funds for freeing of prisoners and covering their legal costs or family needs deemed permissible usage of these monies?

Q: Can we give Zakāt funds to free prisoners? Also can Zakāt funds be used to help finance their legal costs as there is no ‘ransom’ pay for most prisoners nowadays?  Can we give Zakāt funds to their families left behind alone with no breadwinner?


الجواب حامدا ومصليا ومنه الصدق والصواب


 A:  The freeing of prisoners is not from the recipients of zakat.  Rather, the eligibility criteria is poverty and must be executed with proprietary transfer.  I.e., the poor prisoner must be made owner of the wealth. This is also the criteria with regards to utilising Zakāt funds for covering legal costs incurred by their case. By this same token it is allowed to disburse Zakāt funds to the families in question provided they satisfy the eligibility criteria of being poor.

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