Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalam alaykum
I have a relative who has taken a riba-based loan. May I give her zakat so she may pay the loan?
Answer: Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah,
You can give your zakat to somebody who will use it to pay off an interest-bearing loan, as long as the person does not have the nisab (see: e-nisab.com) in any form of wealth.
The sin is in taking the loan itself. Thereafter, it is generally praiseworthy to free oneself from the loan and its traces as soon as possible, by way of repenting. If you can facilitate this for them, it is commendable.
If, however, the person is unrepentant, consider giving your zakat to somebody needier, or in a manner which is of greater benefit; unless there are other reasons to give to this person specifically.
[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]
And Allah Most High alone knows best.
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.