I am required to feed poor people as expiation for the delay of observing fasts that I have missed in Ramadan. I do not know poor or needy people in my area. However, I know some people who are in debt and others who need money to build a house or get married and the like. Can I pay the expiation to these people? I am a married woman. Can I pay the expiation to my relatives if they are needy and poor? This is because they sometimes can find food and at other times they do cannot.
All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.
If someone delays making up the days of fasting that he has missed in Ramadan until the following Ramadan comes and he has no excuse for such delay, then he is required to feed one poor person for each day of fasting that he has missed. If it happens that the person could not find poor people in his hometown to give them the food, then he may locate another town that has poor people and authorize somebody over there to work on his behalf in this regard. The expiation must be delivered as food to the poor, and not for helping others with marriage or house construction. As far as debtors are concerned, they are entitled to receive help from the zakah, but not from expiations, unless they are in need of food and expiations are given to them for this purpose.
You may pay the expiation to your relatives whom you are not legally responsible to support, as stated by most scholars. Rather, when it comes to charity, the relatives take precedence over others based on the Hadeeth which reads, “A charity that you give to a needy person is just a charity, while a charity that you give to your relative is a doubled charity: it is a charity and a kind gesture for maintaining family ties.” [At-Tirmithi]
Allah knows best.
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