Is giving money for the poor for the purpose of enriching them?
Can you give a poor person a sum of money that would make them wealthy or should poor people only receive that which would satisfy their basic needs?
Muslim society seeks to eradicate poverty, illiteracy, corruption, and negative things that cause it harm. It is a society guided by God’s final religion and follows His Chosen Prophet. It is better that the zakat one gives a poor person be enough that it enriches him since this leads to the eradication of that individual’s poverty and it includes that person in the charitable endeavors of his brothers in paying zakat the following year. It is permissible to give a poor person zakat that will sustain them for an average lifespan (ghalib al-umr], meaning that which will sustain him for sixty years.
There are positions that say it is permissible to give him that which will sustain him for up to one-hundred years, as is mentioned by al-Ramli, and as is the position of al-Shafi’i. Al-Nawawi said, “The adherents of our school from Iraq, as well as many of them from Khurasan said, “They are given that which will elevate them from need to wealth which enough to have enough continuously. This is the text of al-Shafi’i.”
This is confirmed by what al-Nawawi chose in al-Minhaj and its commentary by Jalal al-Din al-Mahali who said, “(I said: The more correct position for which there is a text and which is the position of the majority) [is that] he gives (enough for an average lifespan so he can buy real estate from which to benefit) and be wealthy enough to not require zakat (and God Know best). And those who gain their sustenance through a craft are given that with which they can purchase the required tools, I said, ‘their value, even if it is a lot.’ Those who make their living by trade are given that with which they can purchase that which can be traded or whose profits can sustain him for an average lifespan.”
The Shafi’i clarified what is meant by an average lifespan is sixty years, and that if a person were to be poor past that age they would take enough zakat to sustain them for one year, then one year after that, and so on. This was stated by al-Ramli who said, “(It was asked) concerning their saying, ‘a pauper is given enough to sustain him for an average lifespan,’ what is the definition of an average lifespan, and what is the amount that is given if that age is passed? (He answered) that the definition of an average lifespan is sixty years, and that if that is surpassed then [the pauper] is given enough to sustain him for one year, and if that year passes he is given enough for another year. The father has another answer, which is that the limit of an average lifespan is the age that the individual is reasonably expected not to surpass, which, in the correct opinion, cannot be defined with an age. It has also been said that it is defined as being seventy years, eighty years, ninety years, and one hundred years, and if he lives beyond those years he is given enough to sustain him for one year, and if he lives beyond that year he is given enough to sustain him for one year, and so on and so forth.”
This is also the position adopted by Ibn Taymiyah related by al-Mardawi who said, “Sheikh Taqi al-Din said, ‘It is permitted to take one sum of money that would make him wealthy even if it is a lot.’”
Based on the preceding quotes from the Shafi’i School and others, it is our opinion that it is permissible to give a pauper zakat that would make him rich and take him out of what is considered to be poverty. It is even permissible to give him enough to sustain himself for an average lifespan as was mentioned. And God is Most High and Knows Best.