Answered by Sidi Salman Younas
Question: I had a question regarding zakat. Would it be permissible to to give zakat for someone to pay off a loan that keeps on charging interest when this women is old, has no income, has children, and is not being supported by any family?
Answer: assalamu `alaykum
It is permissible to give one’s Zakat to anyone who does not possess the zakatable-minimum (nisab), namely someone legally considered “poor”, as long as they are not one’s spouse, parents, or children.
If you have strong reason to believe that the woman you describe is considered legally poor, you may assist her by giving her your Zakat. If it turns out that she was in fact not eligible for Zakat, your obligation will still be considered fulfilled. [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]
Finally, as a point of clarification, one cannot pay off another’s debt and consider their Zakat fulfilled. Rather, one must intend to give Zakat to a Zakat-eligible individual while actually transferring the wealth to them. Thereafter, they can use such wealth to pay off debts that they have.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani