Zakah to a person in debt
1) Is it permissible to give Zakah to a person in debt?
2)If a person is not eligible to take Zakah, can Zakah be used to pay his debt?
3) Can Zakah be used to off debts of near relatives?
4) If one person owes another person money, can the second person waive the debt and regard that to be his Zakah?
Wa’alaykum as Salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
[ 1 ] Yes, Zakah money can be used to pay someone’s debt, provided that he is eligible for Zakah and the proper procedure is adopted. In paying the debt, you cannot go directly to the indebted person’s creditor and pay off the debt with the intention of Zakah. The proper procedure for you to adopt would be to first of all, make the indebted person the owner of the debt amount, i.e. give it in his hands with the intention of Zakah. Thereafter he should be requested to either go and settle the debt himself with his creditor or you could accompany him to the creditor to ensure that he pays off the debt. Alternatively you could request him to now appoint you as his agent to go and settle the debt with the money that you had given to him. In all these ways, Zakah would be discharged.
[ 2 ] Zakah cannot be utilised to pay his debt if the person is not eligible to take Zakah.
[ 3 ] Zakah can be used to pay off the debts of near relatives as well, provided that they are eligible and the procedure as explained above, is adopted. In fact, this would be the best avenue. However, those near relatives who are direct ascendants and descendants cannot be given Zakah, therefore such funds cannot be utilised to settle their debts. By direct ascendants and descendants we mean relations such as parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on.
[ 4 ] Waiving the debt and writing it off in the manner described by you will not result in the Zakah being discharged, even if the debtor is eligible for receiving Zakah. If you wish to discharge Zakah in such a case, then the correct procedure would be to give the debtor (provided that he is eligible to accept Zakah), a cash amount equivalent to the debt with the intention of discharging Zakah. After giving this amount to him, he should now be requested to settle the debt. In this manner, the Zakah will also be discharged and the debt also settled.
(ومديون ) والمراد من عليه الدين من أي جهة كان ولا يجد قضاء وتقديمه على الفقير أولى من حيث إنه أولى منه بالدفع كما في القهستاني لكن وجه التقديم موافقته للنظم الكريم تدبر وهو المراد بالغارمين والغرامة في أصل اللغة اللزوم .وقال الشافعي الغارم من تحمل غرامة في إصلاح ذات البين ( لا يملك نصابا فاضلا عن دينه ) أي عما يحتاج إليه فيدخل فيه من هو مصرف بلا خلاف من مديون ملك قوت شهر يساوي قيمته نصابا فاضلا عن دينه كما في القهستاني .وفي الإصلاح لم يقل فاضلا عن دينه ؛ لأن ملك النصاب لا يكون إلا كذلك لكن النصاب مائتا درهم مطلقا ولهذا قيده تدبر . (مجمع الأنهر في شرح ملتقى الأبحر – (ج 1/ ص366 دار الكتب العلمية)
( ومديون لا يملك نصابا فاضلا عن دينه ) وفي الظهيرية : الدفع للمديون أولى منه للفقير . (رد المحتار – (ج 2/ ص343 سعيد)
Ismail Moosa (Mufti)
Euro-Sunni & Islamic Research and Welfare Academy