Is it permissible to forgive the de...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Is it permissible to forgive the debt of a poor person with the intention of it being zaka?


Is it permissible to forgive the debt of a poor person with the intention of it being zaka?



Al-Shafi’i said it was permissible in one of his positions, as did Ashhab from the Maliki school, and Ibn Hazm from the Zahiri school, and it is related as the position of al-Hasan al-Basri and ‘Ata. This is because if he were to give him zakat and then take it back from him to cover the debt it would be permissible, so this is permissible as well.

If the creditor pays his zakat to his debtor, and if the debtor then returns it to his creditor, or if the debtor were to borrow enough to pay his debt and paid it to his creditor who then returned it to him and considered it zakat, it would be considered permissible according to the majority of scholars and a position in the Maliki school as long as it was not a trick to excape paying zakat by agreement or with the intention of reviving his money. If, however, it is done as a trick to escape paying zakat, then it is not permitted according to the Malikis and the Hanbalis, but it is permissible according to the Shafi’is, as long as it is not done on a condition and agreement.

Ibn Hazm al-Zahiri said, “If someone who is owed money in the form of wheat, barley, gold, silver, or cattle, by one deserving of charity (ahl al-sadaqat) gives him charity in the form of the debt before it, and intends that it is from his zakat, then it is counted as such. Similarly if he were to give the debt to one who deserved it and transferred it to the person who owes him money and intended it to be zakat it would count as such. The evidence for this is that he is commanded to give the mandatory charity (al-sadaqah al-wajibah), and to give charity from his mandatory zakat to those who are deserving (ahl al-sadaqat) in accordance with what he owes. So if forgiving a debt would be considered charity (sadaqah) then it counts [as zakat]. According to Abi Sa’id al-Khudri there was a man during the time of the Prophet who was afflicted in fruits (thimar) that he had purchased so that his debts were great. The Messenger of God said, ‘Give him charity.’ And this is the position of ‘Ata ibn Abi Rabah and others.”

Based on this we see nothing to prevent counting the forgiving of a debt as zakat, although it is better to give the debtor enough time to pay back the debt or to forsake the debt for God and not to consider it as Zakat in order to extricate oneself from the difference of opinion, or to forgive the debt out of a sense of charity other than zakat, or to give him the money and then take it from him, even if it is the same money, in order to prevent the trick that some people commit especially when it comes to transactions between businessmen. And God is Most High and Knows Best.


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