Assalaamu alaykum. My sister and her husband borrowed around 15,000 USD from me 2 years ago, and they have not payed me back yet. So they are indebted to me. They have around 3,000 USD in the bank, saved for their children's future. They have no other assets. They rent their house. Their salary is enough to pay their expenses, but not to save. Are they considered Gharimeen (insolvent debtors eligible to receive Zakah)? Can I give them zakah? Thank you.
All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.
As for their savings, they should hasten to pay their debt from the savings because the settlement of debt takes precedence over anything else. If they are unable to repay the rest of their debt, they are considered – in this condition – Ghaarimeen (those in debt). It is permissible for you to pay them your zakaah, but it is impermissible to stipulate that they repay you what they borrowed from you, because that would be a trick by which you pay your zakaah to yourself.
According to the majority of the scholars, it is also impermissible to write off their debts and consider it part of your zakaah.
In short, you can pay them your zakaah provided that you do not stipulate that they return it to you to settle the debt. If they return it to you without you stipulating it, you may take it.
Allah knows best.
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