Who Qualifies And Who Should Apply For A Sanzaf Zakah Bursary

This brief article is meant to highlight and conscientise the applicant and the applicant’s family as to who may apply and qualifies for a SANZAF Zakah Bursary. It is meant to raise moral / ethical issues in the hearts and minds of the applicant and the applicant’s family.

However, as the onus or burden of proof for eligibility to receive Zakah rests with the applicant and the applicant’s family, it is important that both the applicant and the applicant’s family read and understand the content of this document before submitting an application form. We apologise in advance if we offend anyone in the process.


To begin with, let it be known that the South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF) is committed to the upliftment and empowerment of the community. This objective is realised through several developmental programmes undertaken by us. However, the primary target group in this regard are those that society in general have forgotten or neglected and who are generally described a “poverty stricken” individuals / families, i.e. the unemployed, those with menial or low paying jobs and those with insufficient income.

Also, the Shariah has identified eight categories of recipients of Zakah, namely:

  1. The Poor
  2. The Needy
  3. The Administrators of Zakah
  4. The Reverts
  5. Those in Debt
  6. Those in Bondage
  7. Those (striving) in the path of Allah
  8. The Wayfarer

The English translations above give a general sense, rather than the specific intent, of who the Shariah intended to benefit through the institution of Zakah. To that end, only some of the above categories may qualify for a SANZAF bursary, viz.:

The Poor:

Generally, those that are unemployed (due to unavailability of work or an inability to secure work due to a lack of skills). It will not include for example, people who can work or have work opportunities – even if unrelated to their skills set or professions. For example, people unwilling to take up some of other form of employment due to pride or an unemployed carpenter unwilling to take up employment as a driver or an unemployed accountant unwilling to take up employment as a cashier, etc.

The Needy:

Generally, those that are employed, even as professionals, but whose income is insufficient to cover basic living expenses. However, while the Shariah makes an allowance for basic necessities to be exempt from Zakah, for example; a home, mode of transport, furniture, clothing, etc. it also balances the need to own and acquire assets by urging moderation, non-extravagance and living within ones means. The latter may include planning for the likes of education or other eventualities at the expense of luxuries and conveniences etc.

Those in Debt:

Generally, those who through circumstances beyond their control, find themselves in debt and are unable to settle same from existing assets, even if it means selling personal assets. Usually one who is faced with the prospect of a legal challenge that will render one insolvent.

Zakah is by design an outright grant, i.e. it is not a loan that needs to be re-paid. Therefore, one cannot justify ‘borrowing’ Zakah with the intent of paying it back later without taking the necessary steps to ensure that one qualifies for Zakah in the first place. However, while there is no obligation to repay Zakah, one may voluntarily ‘re-pay’ it or contribute to such a fund if one so wishes. The nature or intention of any such ‘repayment’ will be judged by Allah.