Dr.Monzer Kahf, a prominent economist and counselor states:

  1. Zakah should only be given to Muslims whom you know they deserve it or through Muslim charitable organization that you trust they know and fulfill necessary Shari’ah rules in distribution. This is more so in our time because there is tremendous need among Muslims all over the world.
  2. Zakah can be given to some relatives and cannot be given to others. Any person for whose living you are responsible cannot be given your Zakah and you are required to spend on that person from your own funds other than Zakah, because if you give from Zakah it amounts to giving it to yourself. But Zakah can be given to poor uncles and aunts, cousins, etc.  Such giving of Zakah to relatives for whom you are not financially responsible is even more rewarding than giving it to strangers as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told us since it is a payment of Zakah and a kindness to a relative.”