Zakat for relatives in house debt in the UK
Further to your tweet
If your sibling or nephew or relative is in debt for their first house & they are eligible to receive Zakat (because their debt is more than their Zakatable & non-essential assets), consider donating your Zakat to them. You will also attain the reward of maintaining family ties.
— Yusuf Shabbir (@ibn_shabbir) November 14, 2020
please answer the following questions:
(1) My brother recently purchased his first house for £110,000. He had £10,000 savings and took interest free loans worth £100,000 from our parents, myself, his in-laws and some uncles. Apart from a few hundred pounds from his employment, he has no other Zakatable assets. In this scenario, is it permissible for me to donate my Zakat to him? If it is, can I make intention to change my loan into Zakat or do I have to give him money? If I have to give him money, can I stipulate that he must use that to repay me my loan?
(2) If the answer to the above answer is yes, then does it make a difference if he purchased the house via an interest-based bank mortgage which has to be re-paid over a ten-year period?
(3) If the answer to the above answer is yes, can my parents give Zakat to him?
(4) When giving Zakat, do you have to explicitly mention that it is Zakat? Or is it sufficient to say verbally that it is a gift whilst intending that it is Zakat? The reason for this question is that sometimes it is inappropriate to mention to recipients that it is Zakat money, especially if they are relatives.
(5) If the answer to numbers 1 and 2 is yes, is it permissible for me to give the Zakat to my brother’s creditors directly?
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
It would be useful to make the following preliminary points before directly answering the questions:
First, Zakat must be given to a poor person. A poor person is he who does not possess wealth equivalent to niṣāb (currently £370 approx.) beyond his needs. If a person possesses wealth beyond his needs equivalent to niṣāb, he is not eligible to receive Zakat, irrespective of whether the wealth is Zakatable or otherwise.
Second, a person’s debts are taken into account when determining their wealth for the purpose of giving or receiving Zakat. Therefore, if after factoring in the debts, one does not own wealth equivalent to niṣāb beyond his needs, he is eligible to receive Zakat.
Third, the default ḥanafī position is that both short-term/immediate and long-term/deferred debts are to be deducted when calculating Zakat or determining eligibility to receive Zakat. Therefore, loans from family and friends can be deducted in full because the repayment can be demanded at any time. However, those who have bank loans should only deduct what is due or what they intend to pay within the next 12 months. (For further details, refer to our earlier answer: Long term debt and Zakat).
Fourth, the default position is that interest-based mortgages are prohibited. Usury is a major sin and one must adopt Halal means of purchasing a house. It follows that if someone has taken an interest-based mortgage, the interest amount will not be included in the deduction as the Shariah does not recognise it as a lawful debt. It follows that who has an interest-based mortgage should endeavour to become debt-free as soon as possible.
Fifth, Zakat cannot be given to parents or grandparents or to children or grandchildren. Likewise, a husband cannot give Zakat to the wife, and according to the preferred view, the wife cannot give Zakat to the husband. Apart from this, one can give Zakat to any of his relatives if they meet the other eligibility criteria.
Sixth, it is highly recommended that a person donates Zakat to his relatives who are genuinely in need and are eligible to receive Zakat, whether they are living in the UK or abroad. Along with the reward of Zakat, one will also attain the reward of maintaining family ties, as understood from ḥadīths. If someone has the means of supporting his relatives with non-Zakat funds, then this would be the preferred option.
Thus, if a relative in the UK is on low income has purchased their first house and is in debt as a result, one should consider supporting them with Zakat and non-Zakat funds and also interest free loans. This could also potentially save them from interest-based loans and also make them Zakat givers much quicker. Accordingly, one will also be rewarded for potentially saving others from sin.
It is recognised that in some circumstances, it may not be appropriate to give Zakat to a relative despite being eligible to receive Zakat, whether they are in the UK or otherwise. This could be because they have a very good income stream or because they have a lavish life-style. When deciding who to give Zakat to, one should look at the circumstances of the potential recipient. Likewise, those in debt should endeavour to repay their debts as soon as possible and adopt a modest lifestyle, avoiding extravagance, particularly if they are recipients of Zakat. Nonetheless, if Zakat is given to someone who is eligible to receive Zakat, the obligation will be fulfilled.
Seventh, when giving Zakat to an eligible person, it is not necessary to mention that it is Zakat. If a person says that it is a gift or a loan (so that the recipient exercises more prudence in spending), his Zakat will be discharged as long as his intention from the outset is Zakat. However, if the intention from the outset is gift or loan, it is not possible to change the gift or loan into Zakat after the recipient has possession of it. Merely changing intention does not constitute tamlīk (full ownership) as detailed in the ninth point.
Eighth, asking for Zakat is severely detested unless the circumstances are dire. Therefore, eligibility for Zakat does not mean that one should ask for Zakat. It is a separate matter that relatives, and people in general, should take the initiative to support the needy.
Ninth, a creditor can give Zakat to a debtor. The validity of Zakat is dependent on tamlīk (full ownership) enabling the recipient to spend it as he wishes. Once the recipient owns the Zakat, he can pay any of his creditors including the creditor who gave him Zakat. It should be noted that the creditor should not stipulate when giving Zakat to the debtor that he returns it to him to repay his debt and if he does so, this stipulation will be void and the Zakat will be valid. It is a separate matter that a creditor can at any point demand for his loan to be returned.
It follows from this that Zakat cannot be given directly to the creditor of a poor person without his consent or instruction because tamlīk would not have occurred for the poor person. If, however, the poor person consents, Zakat can be given to his creditor directly. In this case, the donor and creditor must be two different people. If the donor is also the creditor, he cannot discharge his Zakat by merely making an intention that it is in lieu of what the poor person owes him, even if the poor person consents. Tamlīk requires transfer of ownership and merely making an intention to convert a loan into Zakat is invalid. (For further details, refer to: Can creditor give Zakat to debtor?).
Tenth, what has been mentioned above is not restricted to relatives. The principles equally apply to non-relatives. Supporting anyone in debt is highly recommended.
Your questions are now addressed:
(1) As your brother owes £100,000 to family and friends, and this exceeds his Zakatable and non-Zakatable non-essential assets, he is eligible to receive Zakat. As this is his first house, you should consider supporting him and you do not need to mention that it is Zakat.
As you gave him a loan, you cannot change the loan into Zakat just by making an intention or informing him. You must give him the Zakat money without stipulating that he should repay it to you. If he decides to use it to repay your loan, this is valid.
(2) If the house was purchased via an interest-based bank mortgage, the amount that is due to the bank in the next 12 months will be regarded as the debt. If, however, the owner intends to pay more than the required amount, this higher amount will be regarded as the debt. For example, if the required amount is £10,000 per annum, and he intends to pay £15,000, £15,000 will be regarded as the debt amount.
Once the debt amount is factored in, if he does not own wealth equivalent to niṣāb beyond his needs, he will be eligible to receive Zakat. If, however, he owns wealth equivalent to niṣāb beyond his needs, then Zakat will not be given to him.
This principle will continue to apply until the original loaned amount is repaid in full. All payments should be regarded in lieu of the original loaned amount first. Once the original loaned amount is repaid in full, all additional payments will be regarded as interest and therefore will not be deducted.
(3) Parents cannot give children Zakat, as mentioned above.
(4) It is not necessary to mention to the recipient that it is Zakat, as detailed above. You can say that it is a gift or a loan, on the condition that your intention is Zakat from the outset.
(5) It is permissible for you to give Zakat to your brother’s creditors directly as long as your brother is aware and he consents. However, as a creditor yourself, you cannot discharge your Zakat by merely making an intention that it is in lieu of what your brother owes you, as mentioned in number (1).
قال الله تعالى: إنما الصدقات للفقراء والمساكين والعاملين عليها والمؤلفة قلوبهم وفي الرقاب والغارمين، الآية۔
وقال محمد في الجامع الصغير (ص ١٢٣): ولا يحل الزكاة لمن له مائتا درهم، ولا بأس به لمن له أقل من مائتي درهم، انتهى۔
وقال الحصكفي في الدر المختار (٢/٣٤٣): (ومديون لا يملك نصابا فاضلا عن دينه) وفي الظهيرية: الدفع للمديون أولى منه للفقير. وقال (٢/٣٥٣): (وكره إعطاء فقير نصابا) أو أكثر (إلا إذا كان) المدفوع إليه (مديونا أو) كان (صاحب عيال) بحيث (لو فرقه عليهم لا يخص كلا) أو لا يفضل بعد دينه (نصاب) فلا يكره، فتح، انتهى۔
وقال السمرقندي في تحفة الفقهاء (١/٣٠٣) وغيره: الواجب هو التمليك من الغير من كل وجه، انتهى. وقال السرخسي في المبسوط (٢/٢٠٣): فإن أراد الحيلة فالوجه أن يتصدق عليه بقدر الزكاة من العين، ثم يسترده من يده بحساب دينه، انتهى. وقال الحصكفي في الدر المختار (٢/٢٧١): وحيلة الجواز أن يعطي مديونه الفقير زكاته ثم يأخذها عن دينه، انتهى۔
وللكلام والمراجع حول الديون المؤجلة راجع الفتوى السابق۔
قضاء الدين بأمر المديون من الزكاة
وقال محمد في الأصل (٢/١٠٤): قلت: أرأيت رجلا قضى دين رجل حي مغرم من زكاته بأمره أيجزيه ذلك من زكاة ماله؟ قال: نعم، انتهى. وقال السرخسي في المبسوط (٢/٢٠٣): وكذلك يقضي دين مغرم بأمره، ويجوز ذلك إذا كان المديون فقيرا، لأنه يملكه أولا، ثم يقضي دينه بأمره بملكه. ألا ترى أن من أمر إنسانا بقضاء دينه كان له أن يرجع عليه إذا قضاه ولا يكون ذلك إلا بعد التمليك منه، انتهى. وقال السمرقندي في تحفة الفقهاء (١/٣٠٧): وأما إذا قضى دين حي فقير، فإذا قضى بغير أمره يكون متبرعا ولا يقع عن الزكاة، وإن قضى بأمره فإنه يقع عن الزكاة ويصير وكيلا في قبض الصدقة عن الفقير والصرف إلى قضاء دينه، فقد وجد التمليك من الفقير فيجوز، انتهى۔
فضل الزكاة على الأقارب
وقال الإمام البخاري في الصحيح: باب الزكاة على الأقارب، وقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: له أجران أجر القرابة والصدقة. ووصله في باب الزكاة على الزوج والأيتام في الحجر۔
من لا يعطى الزكاة من الأقارب
وقال محمد في الجامع الصغير (ص ١٢٢): ويعطي الرجل الزكاة كل فقير إلا امرأته وولده وولد الابن والابنة ووالده ووالدته. قال: ولا تعطي المرأة زوجها، وقال أبو يوسف ومحمد: تعطيها، انتهى. قال ابن قطلوبغا في التصحيح والترجيح (ص ٢٠١): رجح صاحب الهداية وغيره قوله، واعتمده النسفي وبرهان الشريعة، انتهى۔
تسمية الزكاة هبة أو قرضا
وقال الكاساني في البدائع (٢/٤٠) تبعا للسمرقندي في تحفة الفقهاء (١/٣١١): المعتبر في الدفع نية الآمر، انتهى. وقال ابن نجيم في البحر الرائق (٢/٢٢٨): والأصح كما في المبتغى والقنية أن من أعطى مسكينا دراهم وسماها هبة أو قرضا ونوى الزكاة فإنها تجزئه، انتهى. وأقره الشرنبلالي في حاشية درر الحكام (١/١٧٤) وقال: وكذا صحح في شرح المنظومة الإجزاء، لأن العبرة لنية الدافع لا لعلم المدفوع إليه إلا على قول أبي جعفر، انتهى. وراجع المراقي (ص ٧١٥). وقال ابن عابدين في رد المحتار (٢/٢٦٨): قوله: نية، أشار إلى أنه لا اعتبار للتسمية، فلو سماها هبة أو قرضا تجزيه في الأصح، انتهى. وراجع فيه (٢/٣٤٥)۔
وقال محمد في الأصل (٢/١١٢): قلت: أرأيت الرجل يكون له الدين فيتصدق به على الذي هو عليه وينوي أن يكون من زكاة ماله هل يجزيه ذلك؟ قال: لا. وقال السرخسي في المبسوط (٢/٢٠٣): قال: رجل له على آخر دين فتصدق به عليه ينوي أن يكون من زكاة ماله لا يجزئه إلا عن مقدار الدين إن كان المديون فقيرا۔
Allah knows best
28 Rabīʿ al-Awwal 1442 / 14 November 2020
Approved by: Mufti Shabbir Ahmed and Mufti Muhammad Tahir