Zakaah: the closest ones first
Shaikh al-`Uthaymeen رحمه الله said:
بـسـم الله والحـمـد لله والـصلاة والـسـلام عــلى رسـول الله، وبـعـد
[Sharh Riyaadh al-Saaliheen, pg. 2/501]
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said to Mu`aadh when he sent him to Yemen: “And if they obey you in that tell them that Allaah has made it obligatory on them to pay the Zakaah which will be taken from the rich among them and given to the poor among them.” [Saheeh al-Bukhaaree (1395, 1496, 4347) and Saheeh Muslim (30, 31)]
So as per this, the people are in error - those who send their Zakaah money to a far-off place while in their own place there are people who are in need of that. It is not permissible for them to do that because the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “it is to be taken from the rich among them and given to the poor among them.” Those who are the nearest (poor family members) have the most right. Those who are near know that you have wealth and that you are rich. So, if they are not provided from your (Zakaah) money, there might be enmity and hatred in their hearts for you and you will be responsible for that. And it may happen that when they see you sending your Zakaah to a far-off place while they are in need of that, they might attack you and steal your wealth. Therefore it is from the Hikmah (wisdom) that as long as there are people in your place who are in need, you should not spend it on someone else.