Is it Lawful to Use Zakat to Pay Medical Expenses?

Question:


As Salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh, Ustad, I hope you and your family are well IA.

 

If you could please provide me an input on this situation: a relative back home had a heart condition which required immediate surgery and he borrowed money to travel to another city/country to complete his operations. He (sick relative) asked for help to pay off his loan/debt. One of the possible donors here in States asked if zakat money could be used for this?

 

As always I appreciate your help personally and your efforts to community at large.

 

Answer:


As Salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,


The Qur’an enumerates eight categories of rightful recipients of Zakat (the poor due). Of the eight, the “sick” is not listed among them. That notwithstanding, the Qur’an lists the poor, the needy, debtors, and the wayfarers, which all apply to your relative in this case. That this debt was incurred in lieu of the aim of preserving life makes it a lawful debt for which Zakat can be used. That the money is used for a journey to improve one’s health, the sick person qualifies as a wayfarer who is entitled to Zakat payment in light of being either unable to afford the journey or cut off from ones wealth. Not possessing property of sufficient appraisable value to pay for the operation or even the journey qualifies the sick to be designated as a needy person. Consequently, it is lawful for Zakat money to be used to pay for medical and travel expenses in this case. And Allah knows best.


Abdullah bin Hamid Ali

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