Q. We were at a get together. A lot of us are of the opinion that charity is good to give. Many of us give our parents our charity. Some debate has occurred. Can one give parents zakat? And why not if they are poor? For example, my mom and dad have done do much for me and my sisters. Now that they are old, they really wanted to go for Umrah. They see friends going for Umrah and I can sense their desire to go too. They cannot afford to go. Can I buy the Umrah package with Zakat money for them to go for Umrah?
A. May Allah reward all children and parents for the good deeds they are doing towards each another. Moreso, those children who are upholding the sunnah and Quranic injunctions of being good to their parents at all times.
First of all, looking the 2008 rate for Umrah from the United States, it is not unusual for a person to spend in the range of $4,500. Adding a minimum of $1,000 for miscellaneous expenses, and you are into the cozy range of $6000! If this was also your Zakat amount to be given to the poor, then it would be fair to say that you are by no means a poor child! For example, a person gives $2,500 for every $100,000 on hand, (provided one qualifies by having the amount of nisab and has resources that makes one eligible for zakat!) So if it’s true that you are indeed legitimately qualified to give Zakat in the $6000 range, it can be ascertained that you are worth close to quarter million dollars.
Having mentioned the above figures and knowing the position of parents in all cultures and more so in Islam, how can one possibly even consider giving their zakat monies to parents? As a matter of fact, parents in ‘traditional Islam’ had the right to ask for whatever they wanted from their children, and children would oblige with parental requests. Sometimes children would be embarrassed that a parent had to inquire for a given necessity. Children felt that they should have known better, rather than embarrass their parents by having them for assistance.
But times have indeed changed. Children are refusing to grow up, they want it all from their parents, in addition to the fact that some parents have found it necessary to gorge their children merely because they are ‘their’ children. The same parents would also candidly argue that slavery is over. For many, being a child of a given set of parents warrants guardians to wrongfully exploit every essence of that child.
Parents and children have forgotten one important aspect of religion– parents and children have a social obligations and responsibility towards one another – focusing selfishly on the aspect of only one’s rights has caused us to forget important aspects of our Islamic rules and regulations, as well as culture and identity .
Regarding zakat, the following rule would apply, as mentioned before on our site: YOU CANNOT GIVE YOUR MOTHER, FATHER, GRANDPARENTS, AND ALL THOSE THAT GO UPWARDS ON THIS CHAIN, NOR CAN YOU GIVE CHILDREN, GRANDCHILDREN, GREAT GRAND CHILDREN AND ALL THOSE THAT COME DOWNWARDS ON THIS CHAIN YOUR ZAKAT!!!
NOTE: Why do so many children want to give Zakat monies to their parents? Shaytan is a master trickster, more so for those who have wealth. Shaytan wants a business-owner to pay the least amount of zakat as possible on goods owned, likewise, for the owner of gold and other zakatable jewelry, etc. Here is an ayah that can help you understand as to why this is the case, and why many of you pose such a question:
Shaytan threatens you with poverty and bids you to do lewder actions, and Allah promises you forgiveness from Himself and abundance; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing. (2:268)
So, when you want to give from your non-zakatable funds, Shaytan threatens you with your outstanding bills, light account, car expense, how you have helped previously and did not get any benefit from your parents, etc. Let not shaytan dupe you into being gullible.
If you are among those who are fortunate, in that you have surplus funds, spending it upon your parents for the Umrah (preferred if they have already gone for the Hajj) would be a very gracious and dignified act on your part.
Sayidinah Abu Huraira (RA) reported Rasulullah (SAW) as having said:
Allah, the Most Blessed and High, said: O child of Adam, spend! I will spend (give) unto you. The right hand of Allah (meaning the generosity of Allah) is full and overflowing and nothing would diminish it …. (Hadith continues).
Muslim:Book 5, Number 2178
Also narrated by Sayininah Huraira that Rasullulah (SAW) is reported to have said that Allah mentioned to him (SAW):
‘Spend, (and) I will bestow upon you.’ And Rasulullah (SAW) responded by saying: The right hand of Allah is full… (and will) not diminish….. and He elevates and degrades (whom He likes).
Muslim: Book 5, Number 2179
Allah certainly knows best.