ZAKAT should be given to the poor and needy, regardless who they are. Smokers, though eligible as zakat receivers, should not get zakat since they can afford to buy cigarettes.
If they have money to buy cigarettes, they cannot be considered indigent. The rule on smoking has been made clear in Islam.
The Fatwa Committee of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs of Malaysia on March 23, 1995, had discussed the issue on “Smoking from the viewpoint of Islam” and had ruled: “Smoking is forbidden in Islam because in it there is harm.”
It was forbidden because one who smokes is considered to squander money that could be used for gainful activities.
Also, the fatwa is consistent with Surah al-Baqarah, verse 195,: “And do not throw yourselves into destruction”.
In Surah al-A’r af: 157, it is written: “And it is lawful to them the good things and forbids them the bad things.”
Though Islam indicates the danger posed by smoking, there are Muslims who take the fatwa lightly. What is worrying is that such this habit is adopted by students.
We should send a strong signal by excluding smokers from the list of zakat recipients.
As one of the five pillars of Islam, zakat, or giving of alms, is a religious obligation for Muslims who meet the criteria of wealth.
It is a mandatory charitable contribution, the right of the poor to find relief from the rich, and is considered to be a tax, or obligatory alms.
There are eight categories of people entitled to receive zakat assistance: the poor (al-fuqara), meaning one who is of low-income or indigent; the needy (almasakin), meaning someone who is in difficulty; zakat administrators (al- amil); those whose hearts are to be reconciled, meaning new Muslims (Muallaf) and friends of the Muslim community; those in bondage (slaves and captives); physically or mentally (Al - Riqab); the debt-ridden (Al-Gharimin); those fighting for a religious cause or a cause of God (Fil Sabilillah); and those who are stranded or travelling (Ibn Al –Sabil).
The religious authorities should observe this issue to protect the sanctity of Islam