Paying off Other People’s Debt with Zakat
Assalamu’alaikum. Sir, let me ask: Say, A was indebted to B, since he was poor, A was unable to pay his debt. Then there was C who helped to pay A’s debt to B, but the money he paid was from his zakat. Thus, C directly paid his zakat obligation to B, intending to pay off A’s debt. Is such act permissible? Or should C give the money to A first?
In the name of Allah, peace and prayer of Allah be upon His messenger, amma ba’du,
In Fatawa Syabakah Islamiyah it is said that,
فلا مانع من صرف الزكاة إلى المدين لسداد دينه لأنه من صنف الغارمين المستحقين للزكاة، وأما إعطاء الزكاة إلى الدائن، فإن كان ذلك بإذن المدين (الغارم) فلا إشكال، وإن كان بدون إذنه فمحل خلاف بين الفقهاء، فذهب الحنفية الشافعية إلى أن ذلك لا يجزئ، وذهب الحنابلة إلى إجزائه، قال في الإنصاف: لو وضع المالك إلى الغريم بلا إذن الفقير فالصحيح من المذهب أنه يصح.
There’s no problem to give zakat to person who has debt to help him pay off his debt. Because he is included in al gharimin (people who has debt) who is entitled to receive zakat.
As for giving it directly to the person who lend the money (creditor), there are details to it,
If the pay off of this debt is by the permission of the debtor, then there’s no problem in it. But if it is paid without any permission of the debtor, there are different opinions of the scholar in it. Scholars of the school of Hanafi and Syafii stated that the zakat is invalid, whereas the scholars of the school of Hambali stated otherwise.
In the book “Al Inshaf”, the book of jurisprudence of the school of Hambali – it is said that,
لو وضع المالك إلى الغريم بلا إذن الفقير فالصحيح من المذهب أنه يصح
If the money owner directly gives the money to the money lender (creditor) without a consent of the poor (debtor), the stronger opinion in madzhab, is that the zakat is valid.
Whereas in Fatawa Hindiyah – the book of jurisprudence of the school of hanafi – it is said that,
ولو قضى دين الفقير بزكاة ماله: إن كان بأمره يجوز، وإن كان بغير أمره لا يجوز، وسقط الدين
As for the case of people who pays off the debt of the poor with zakat from his wealth, if it is done with a consent of the poor, then it is allowed (to do so). If it is done without the poor’s consent, it is not allowed (to do so), even though the debt is still paid off.
An Nawawi in “al Majmu’” said,
ولا يجوز صرفه إلى صاحب الدين إلا بإذن من عليه الدين، فلو صرف بغير إذنه لم يجزئ الدافع عن زكاته، ولكن يسقط من الدين بقدر المصروف
It is not allowed to give zakat to the money lender (creditor) except with the consent of the debtor. If he gives it without the consent of the debtor, his zakat is invalid, even though the debt is settled as much as he paid.
After bringing forward the different opinions of the scholars above, The Fatawa Syabakah Islamiyah institution commented,
فالأحوط هو إخبار المدين واستئذانه في قضاء الدين عنه، أ وتسليمه المال ليسدد دينه بنفسه
The more careful way is to inform the indebted party (debtor) and ask for his consent to pay off his debt. Or, we give the zakat to him, so that he can pay off his debt on his own.
See: Fatawa Syabakah Islamiyah, no. 43511.
Allah knows best.
Answered by Ustadz Ammi Nur Baits (Advisory board of Konsultasisyariah.com)