Can a creditor be paid Zakat directly on behalf of a debtor?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
It is permissible to pay Zakat directly to the creditor of a Faqīr debtor on condition there is acknowledgement from the Faqīr debtor. If the Faqīr debtor does not sanction the payment, the payment will not be Zakat, rather, it will be a voluntary payment.
The Fiqh (jurisprudence of the answer):
The integral of Zakat is Tamlīk to the Zakat recipient. Tamlīk refers to the transferral of ownership to the Zakat recipient by granting him possession. Payment to a creditor without the acknowledgment of the Faqīr debtor is void of Tamlīk. Although the payment was for the Zakat recipient but it was not to the Zakat recipient. Providing a service to a Zakat recipient with Zakat funds without the acknowledgement of the Zakat recipient fails in fulfilling Tamlīk.
When the Zakat recipient acknowledges the payment, the creditor acts as an agent and Wakīl. As an agent, the creditor takes possession on behalf of the Zakat recipient initially and then takes possession for himself as a payee of the funds. Thus, Tamlīk is found in such a scenario and the Zakat payment is valid.
And Allah Ta’ālā Alone Knows Best
Mufti Faraz Adam al-Mahmudi,
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وَأما إِذا قضى دين حَيّ فَقير فَإِذا قضى بِغَيْر أمره يكون مُتَبَرعا وَلَا يَقع عَن الزَّكَاة وَإِن قضى بأَمْره فَإِنَّهُ يَقع عَن الزَّكَاة وَيصير وَكيلا فِي قبض الصَّدَقَة عَن الْفَقِير وَالصرْف إِلَى قَضَاء دينه فقد وجد التَّمْلِيك من الْفَقِير فَيجوز (تحفة الفقهاء ج 1 ص 307 دار الكتب)