Answered by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
Is a non-profit charitable medical clinic that distributes medicines to the poor eligible for zakat?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful
One should always remember that Zakat can only be given to those individuals who are legally considered to be poor and needy, meaning those who do not possess in excess of their personal and basic needs any type of wealth to the value of 612.36 grams of silver Hence, if a person owns valuables in excess of his/her personal needs to the value of the above-mentioned Zakat amount (nisab), then he/she will not be eligible to receive Zakat. (See the various classical Hanafi Fiqh references)
It is permitted to give money as Zakat to the poor, and it is also permitted to purchase items of value and give them to the poor. Thus, if this charitable medical clinic distributes medicines to those poor Muslims who meet the criteria of receiving Zakat, then it will be permitted to give them your Zakat money.
However, in doing so, you need to remember that the medical clinic will be merely acting as your agent (wakeel) and assisting you in getting your Zakat to the poor and needy. Thus, you should have full trust and confidence that it will distribute your Zakat upon worthy recipients only. The medicines they manufacture or purchase with your Zakat wealth must only be given to the poor and needy in the manner explained above. Failure in doing so, would render your Zakat invalid, hence it will remain an obligation on you to repay your Zakat.
Therefore, be careful, vigilant and investigate before giving this organization your Zakat. If you have any doubts with regards to their distribution, then it is best to avoid giving Zakat to them.
And Allah knows best
Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
Darul Iftaa, Leicester, UK