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The Qur'an has defined the persons to receive alms in the following words:

"Alms are for the poor and the needy and those employed to administer the (funds), for those whose hearts have been recently reconciled, and those in slavery, and in the debt, and in the way of God, and for the wayfarer".

The poor (al-fuqara) are those who do not own enough to be liable to Zakah and those who do not have enough to carry them through the year. As for the needy (al-masakin), there is a difference of opinion as to whether they or the poor (al-fuqara) are worse off. The needy -it is said- are those who own nothing and owing to age or sickness cannot earn anything. Those employed to administer the funds are the persons appointed by the head of government. Amongst them are laborers and public officials. All these are paid according to their respective work.

Those whose hearts have been recently reconciled were the rich chiefs of tribes whom the head of state thought it necessary to placate for the good of Islam. The Prophet ( Prayer and Peace of Allah be upon him) distributed amongest their like some alms and booty in order to ensure special aims in spreading Islam, or to prevent any harm being done to the faithful. They were exempt from Zakah at the time of "Abu Bakr", and the advice of "Umar", when he gave him to understand that the concessions granted to them were temporary, in accordance with the needs of Islam; and Allah strengthened Islam and there was no need to placate them. Some of the learned think that it is the right of the head of state to use placatory measures till the Day of Judgment; and that if he considers it of use to spend some of Zakah upon those whose hearts are reconciled, he is allowed to do this in the service of Islam. Those in slavery that is the freeing of the slave and the raising of their status ,although slavery no longer exists.

Those in debt are those who have been weighed down by their debts and they cannot pay provided that the cause of debt is not any vice, or mishandling of money. In the way of Allah means those who fight on a raid or in the War in the way of Allah; and similarly all that is beneficial to Allah's religion. The "way-farer" is the stranger who is far away from his home.

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