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Can Zakat Be Given for Paying Dowry ?

We are all living in a society where we are aware of peoples’ problems. I have been told that we are not allowed to give Zakat for poor girls weddings, but believe me this is social problem, every parent wants to see their daughters happily married and settled and they beg affluent or better off families to help them get their daughters settled, as no one will take their daughters home unless they give a reasonable dowry. This is one way of bettering their living, now if the parents/ parent or guardian of orphan girls do not comply the girls will not get married, thus arises another social evil. Since the bridegrooms and their families will not change at least in the near future, what wrong have the girls of poor people done to stay unmarried and then create other social problems. I want to know is it possible to give assistance to such people, as frankly it is not possible for me to give them any substantial assistance but from my Zakat allocation. People just beg and I cant change our social customs alone and overnight and all I can do is give them Zakat to do whatever they think is needful. Am I doing wrong ?


My understanding is that one is obliged to give Zakat to the needy irrespective of what that need is. It is basically the tension created by the need of the needy that needs to be alleviated through helping him out by charity. Most certainly, the need should not be immoral in its nature like drugs etc.
At times it could be that the need is simply to pay an amount to, for example, a kidnapper who has forcibly taken the child of a poor man in his custody. If you look at the payment to the kidnapper, it may not otherwise appear justifiable to some people because it is ultimately ending up in the pocket of a criminal. However, what the paying person would see while spending in charity in such a case is the tension-relieving contribution of the payment rather than where the amount was going. Likewise is the case of the amount spent on dowries of the girls whose parents were poor.
And Allah knows the best.