Can I Give Zakat to My Brother to Pay His Student Loan?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


My elder brother took out a student loan two years ago to pursue his master’s degree in the US. Now, he has a well-paying job, but it will still take him two years to repay the loan. I am his younger sister, and I recently discovered that Riba (usury/interest) is a major sin, equivalent to committing incestuous relations with one’s mother.

I am pretty worried about my brother, who has realized the gravity of this sin and is attempting to pay off the loan as soon as possible. As his sister, I wonder if my brother can receive Zakat.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him. Amin.

Giving one’s zakat to relatives other than those one is obliged to support is recommended. You are not obliged to support your brother. Therefore, if he is poor, you may give him your Zakat. [Misri, ‘Umdat al-Salik]

A person who incurs debts to support himself or his dependents is given zakat if he is poor (does not earn enough to suffice his needs and pay his debts) but not if he is affluent, and Allah knows best. [Ibid.]

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar Shaykh Taha Karaan.

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.