Categories of Zakah recipients

Q 1: Who are the people entitled to receive Zakah (obligatory charity)? Would you please explain each deserving category?

A: Zakah is to be paid to the eight categories mentioned in the Saying of Allah: As-Sadaqât (here it means Zakât) are only for the Fuqarâ’ (poor), and the Masâkin (needy) and those employed to collect (the funds), and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islâm), and to free the captives, and for those in debt, and for Allâh’s Cause, and for the wayfarer (a traveller who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allâh. And Allâh is All-Knower, All-Wise. The poor are those who live at a bare subsistence level. The needy are the destitute, who have nothing at all. Some scholars hold that the opposite is true in defining the two categories previously mentioned, which is the preponderant opinion. "Those employed to collect the funds…" are people assigned by the Imam (ruler) of Muslims or his deputed authority to collect Zakah. This category also includes Zakah clerks and distributors. Those who have been inclined toward Islam are people who have embraced Islam recently, but their Iman (faith) is still weak so their hearts need to be leaned toward Islam. On the other hand, the Saying of Allah: ...and to free the captives signifies freeing male and female slaves as well as war captives and helping Mukatabs (slaves with an agreement to buy their freedom) from Zakah money. "... For those in debt...," signifies people who incur debts for a legitimate purpose, but cannot pay them back. (Part No. 10; Page No. 7) This category also comprises those who go into debt to reconcile between two disputing parties in a Shar`y (Islamically lawful) way. The Saying of Allah: ...and for Allâh’s Cause refers to the category of warriors and Murabits (frontier guardians in Allah's Cause) who are entitled to receive Zakah money to pay for the expenses of discharging their tasks. The last category is the wayfarers, meaning travelers who are cut off from their homeland and all financial resources. They are to receive a sufficient amount of Zakah money that covers their needs until they reach their homeland, even if they are well-off there. For more detailed information, you may also refer to the Tafsir (exegesis of the meanings of the Qur'an) of Al-Baghawy and Ibn Kathir.