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The literal meaning of a miskeen is one who is weak or desperate. He is one of the categories of 8 people for whom Zakah can be given. [1]


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Literal Meaning

Miskeen (مِسْكِين) means indigent; necessitous; needy; pauper; poor; poor man; poverty-stricken;


Islamic Definition

A miskeen or needy person would be one who might have enough to fulfill theirs and their family’s basic needs; but a situation or desperation has befallen them which they are unable to fulfill. For example, one amongst their family is sick and one cannot afford their treatment, or one is unable to pay ones housing costs, or one is unable to pay their children’s basic education fees, etc [1].


The needy (Miskeen) may be someone whose level of poverty is more than the poor or less than him. However, their ruling is the same in all matters. These poor and needy can have decent houses and clothes and yet be considered poor and needy if they do not possess their basic essential needs. The Messenger of Allah defined the Miskeen in some narrations as: "The Miskeen is not the one who goes around among the people (begging) maybe receiving a morsel or two, and a date or two. Rather, the Miskeen is the one who does not have enough wealth to suffice him, however he does not let others know about it in order to be given charity and he does not stand and beg people." SahihMuslim 1039 [2]


Quran and Zakah

Zakath is spent on eight groups of people, as mentioned in the Qur'an (Arabic word As-Sadaqat here it means compulsory charity i.e., Zakath): "Zakath expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allaah and for the [stranded] traveler - an obligation [imposed] by Allaah . And Allaah is Knowing and Wise.Qur’an Surah Tawbah 9:60


  • Poor people -- who have few belongings
  • Destitute(Al-Masakin) people -- who have absolutely nothing
  • Zakath collectors -- for their work in collecting and distributing the zakath
  • Muslim Reverts -- who may be estranged from their families and in need of help
  • Slaves -- to free them from slavery in times/places where slavery has existed
  • Debtors -- to help free them from insurmountable debts
  • Those working in the path of Allah
  • Wayfarers -- who are stranded during their travels


Difference between Faqeer and Miskeen

Allaah has mentioned two types of poor people in His Book, miskeen and faqeer. The scholars have different opinions about the difference between them, and the best two definitions are summarized below:

Miskeen: a poor person who barely meets his basic needs, or a poor person who asks others to help fulfill his financial needs.


Faqeer: an impoverished person who cannot meet his basic needs, or a poor person who does not ask for financial help.


So based on both distinctions, the faqeer has more right to be assisted than a miskeen, and thus, Allaah mentions the faqeer first in the ayath about Zakaat, giving him priority over the miskeen. [3]



  1. For Breaking Oaths: Allah will not impose blame upon you for what is meaningless in your oaths, but He will impose blame upon you for [breaking] what you intended of oaths. So its expiation is the feeding of ten needy (miskeen) people from the average of that which you feed your [own] families or clothing them or the freeing of a slave. But whoever cannot find [or afford it] – then a fast of three days [is required]. That is the expiation for oaths when you have sworn. But guard your oaths. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be grateful.Surah Maidah 5:89
  2. For Killing a game while in Ihram: O you who have believed, do not kill game while you are in the state of iúram. And whoever of you kills it intentionally – the penalty is an equivalent from sacrificial animals to what he killed, as judged by two just men among you as an offering [to Allah] delivered to the Ka‘bah, or an expiation: the feeding of needy people or the equivalent of that in fasting, that he may taste the consequence of his deed. Allah has pardoned what is past; but whoever returns [to violation], then Allah will take retribution from him. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Owner of Retribution. Surah Maidah 5:95
  3. For ones who are unable to fast: Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
    “And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for every day).”al-Baqarah 2:184
    Ibn ‘Abbaas (R)said: This refers to an old man or an old woman who are not able to fast, so for each day they should feed one poor person.” Sahih al-Bukhari, 4505
    The person who is suffering from a chronic illness from which there is no hope of recovery comes under the same ruling as an old man.[4]
  4. For Dhihaar or Zihar
    Then [there must be] the freeing of a slave before they touch one another. That is what you are admonished thereby; and Allaah is Acquainted with what you do* And he who does not find [a slave] - then a fast for two months consecutively before they touch one another; and he who is unable - then the feeding of sixty poor persons (miskeen). Surah Mujadilah 58:3-4


Giving Charity to a relative is better than a needy/poor person

It was narrated from Salman bin 'Amir(R) that the Prophetsaid:"Giving charity to a poor person is charity, and (giving) to a relative is two things, charity and upholding the ties of kinship." Sunan an-Nasa'i 2582


Reward for sponsoring a Miskeen

"The Messenger of Allah said: "The one who strives to sponsor a widow or a poor person is like the one who strives in the cause of Allah, the Mighty and Sublime Sunan an-Nasa'i 2577 [5]



It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri (R) said: “Love the poor, for I heard the Messenger of Allah () say in his supplication: ‘O Allah, cause me to live poor and cause me to die poor, and gather me among the poor (on the Day of Resurrection).’” Sunan ibn Majah Vol. 5, Book 37, Hadith 4126  and Tirmidhi 2352,  both Graded as Da’if (Weak) and Many scholars classed it as da’eef. If we assume it is saheeh, then what is meant by “poor” here is being humble before Allaah, not having little wealth. [6]


Share in War Booty

“And know that whatever of war-booty that you may gain, verily, one-fifth (1/5th) of it is assigned to Allaah, and to the Messenger , and to the near relatives [of the Messenger (Muhammad) ], (and also) the orphans, Al‑Masaakin (the poor) and the wayfarer”Surah al-Anfaal 8:41


See Also

Faqeer, Zakah; Islam and charity; Debt; Zakaat ul fitr;









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