Giving Zakah to your Brothers and Sisters.
By Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-‘Uthaymeen
Can we give sadaqah or zakah to sisters who are students and for household expenses?
Is it permissible for me to give the sadaqah of my wealth to my sisters who are students? Is it permissible for me to contribute with them to household expenses on the basis that it is the sadaqah of my wealth?
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-`ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam, is His Messenger
If it is a voluntary sadaqah, there is nothing wrong with giving it to your sisters and contributing it to household expenses, because sadaqah is broad in scope.
But if what is meant is obligatory charity, i.e., zakah, then the matter is subject to further discussion.
Firstly: It is permissible to give charity to your brothers and sisters, if they are poor and you are not obliged to spend on them because you will not inherit from them, or because you cannot afford to spend on their maintenance.
It is also permissible to give zakah to them if they have debts, whether you are obliged to spend on them or not, because paying off debts is not obligatory for the one who is obliged to spend on another person’s maintenance.
Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about giving zakah to one’s brother and sister.
If by giving Zakah to them so that it would means that your obligatory duty towards them be waived, such as to spend on his maintenance, but instead you gave them Zakah in order to save your money and do not have to spend on him, then this is not permissible to do that, because Zakah cannot be done with the intention to protect your wealth.
But if it does not mean that your duty towards him will be waived, because it is not obligatory for you to spend on his maintenance, because you will not inherit from them, or because you cannot afford to spend on them as well as your own family, or you are giving them money to pay off a debt that they owe but unable to pay off, then it is permissible for you to give your zakah to him, rather it is preferable for you to give it to him rather than anyone else, because giving to him is both an act of charity and upholding the ties of kinship.
[Majmu’ Fatawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (18/422, 423)
Secondly: It is permissible to give zakah to students of syari’ah who are devoting all their time to that, because this study is a kind of jihad, so it comes under the heading of “in Allah’s cause” or for the sake of Allah.
As for students of worldly sciences and branches of knowledge, that does not come under the heading of “in Allah’s cause” or for the sake of Allah, but they may be given zakah because of poverty or need, for example if a student does not have enough money to cover the expenses of study on which his finding the work or job that he needs depends. He may also be given zakah to pay off his debts, such as if he owes money to the university; in that case he may be given enough to pay off his debts.
Thirdly: It is not permissible to give zakah towards household expenses.
But it is assume that your husband is poor and is indeed entitled to Zakah, then you may give your zakah to him then he may spend it as he sees deem it fit, and if he spends it on the household there is nothing wrong with it.
And Allah Almighty knows best.
[ Via Islam Q&A]