Q: Can Zakaat be used to pay off the financial debts of a person in financial difficulty. The payment is intended to be made directly to his creditors? It is feared that if the Zakaat money is given to him he will misuse it?
A: The fundamental requirement of discharging Zakaat is complete transfer of ownership of the wealth to the recipient of Zakaat. Therefore paying off a person’s debt with Zakaat money will not be permissible. However, if it is feared that that the money will be misused, permission and consent maybe sought from the person to pay off his debt. With his consent the debt may be paid on his behalf with Zakaat funds. (Ad Durrul Mukhtar 2/344)
And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best
Shafiq Jakhura (Mufti) and M Mangera (Mufti)