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Zakaah to someone in debts greater than his assets

Fatwaa ID: 2102

السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

Respected Mufti Saheb,
Please can you help with the following:
Is it permissible to give Zakat to someone whose debt is greater than their assets? They are serious about repaying the debt, but are also very generous hearted & spend on immediate family somewhat excessively. They are also planning holidays & buying expensive clothes, etc.

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salaamu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullaahi wa-barakaatuh.

In principle, if one’s debt encompasses his wealth, then he will be eligible to receive zakaah. This means that if the total debt amount is deducted from his total zakaatable assets value and non-essential assets value together, then the difference will be less than the nisaab amount. In such a case, he will be a valid recipient of zakaah. It should be noted however that long term debts are not deductible in its entirety but only the amount payable in the next twelve lunar months.

That being said, it is important to understand that just because someone is eligible to receive zakaah, it does not make him an ideal recipient. We want our zakaah money to be used in the most beneficial way. It should ideally go to those people that will genuinely benefit from it. If a person is debt laden yet he is buying lavish clothing or planning vacations, then he needs financial counseling, not zakaah funds. He is not in need in its true essence. Give you zakaah funds to those who do not have enough to even eat or live. That will be of true benefit to the Ummah.

And Allaah Ta’aala knows best.
Mufti Muajul I. Chowdhury
Darul Iftaa New York

07/27/1445 AH – 02/08/2024 CE | AML1-8781

وصل اللهم وسلم وبارك على سيدنا محمد وعلى ءاله وصحبه أجمعين


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