I am writing in full confidence to get Shariah fatwa on the zakah issue my family is recently involved with. My mother have been giving zakah for the last 12 years to the children of her very poor tenant lady since when her husband passed away and she had no prominent source of income to support her 4 teenage kids. The eldest one was below 10 years when they became orphan. She was also ill and suffering from breast cancer at that time and later on passed away too leaving the children alone. This tenant lady belonged to a Sayed family and when her husband passed away she asked my mother to support her with the zakah money. Knowing that she is Sayed, my mother refused her but she insisted that you can give zakah to her children directly and not to her. My mother along with myself and my sisters used to give this family some part of zakah every year. This woman passed away last year too as I mentioned earlier and my mother now came to know from some reliable sources that her husband was Sayed too and she lied to my mother to take zakah in the name of her children. May Allah forgive her. Don’t really know why she did this but now this is a big question for us all that if our 12 years of zakah have been paid or not? I have following questions for you to answer in the light of Shariah please. (1) Do the zakah of 12 years being paid to a Sayed family valid, as being trusted on the words of a tenant lady which has proven false after her death? (2) If the zakah is invalid then how would we estimate how much we had given to them for the last 12 years as none of our family knows the amount or % of zakah particularly given to them? (3) If we need to pay it again then it should be difficult for us now to pay in one go, can we split this amount in installments and pay over the years in addition to our regular zakah each year? Please help my family to get this sorted ASAP as I am worried now after knowing that all of my zakah of previous years were given to a Sayed family obviously it was not my or my mother's fault but her late tenant lady lied her and collected zakah in the name of her orphan children hiding their caste. I look forward to your detailed fatwa on this please. May Allah be pleased with you. Ameen!
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Ulama have explained if zakah is given to a person thinking him eligible for zakah or non-Sayyid on the basis of some reasons then zakah will be paid though it is known later that the person was not eligible to receive zakah or he was a Sayyid; since you have given zakah to those orphans and on the request of their mother thinking them non-Sayyid, hence your zakah was paid as per the Shariah, though you learnt later that they were Sayyid. You should not worry about it, but be cautious in future.
دفع بتحرِ لمن ظنه مصرفاً فبان ..... غناه ...أو أنه ....هاشمي لا يعيد؛ لأنه أتى بما وسعه الخ (در مختار مع الشامى 3/302، ط: زكريا)
Allah knows Best!
Darul Uloom Deoband