Zakah as paid to those Allah has specified

Q: To whom should Zakah (obligatory charity) be paid? Should it only be given to monotheists who regularly perform the obligatory Salahs (Prayer) or is it sufficient that the person is Muslim? Also, is it permissible to give Zakah to relatives who do not live in the same country?

A: Zakah should be paid to those whom Allah (Exalted be He) specified in His Saying: 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. It should be given only to those who are obviously Muslims. This is because the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said to Mu`adh ibn Jabal when he sent him to Yemen: Tell them that Allah has enjoined upon them - Muslims - the paying of Zakah to be taken from the rich and given to the poor among them. The more the poor or the needy are pious and obedient to Allah, the more they deserve to receive Zakah than others.On the other hand, the basic ruling regarding Zakah is that it should be given to the poor in the same region from which it has been collected. This is supported by the Hadith quoted above. (Part No. 10; Page No. 10) However, it is permissible to send Zakah to another country if there is a need to do so. Such a need may be, for example, that the poor of the other country are in greater need or that they are, besides being poor, relatives of the Zakah payer.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.