Question

Is there a limit to how much zakah money you can give to one person?

Answer

There’s some difference of opinion in this. Some say enough to survive a year, some allow even enough to get a livelihood, set up a business etc.
Hanafis say it is makruh to give more than 200 dirhams (the nisab amount that qualifies a person to pay zakah) to a single person unless he/she is in debt or has dependents.
وَيُكْرَهُ أَنْ يُعْطِيَ رَجُلًا ‌مِنْ ‌الزَّكَاةِ ‌مِائَتَيْ ‌دِرْهَمٍ إذَا لَمْ يَكُنْ عَلَيْهِ دَيْنٌ أَوْ لَهُ عِيَالٌ وَقَالَ أَبُو يُوسُفَ: لَا بَأْسَ بِإِعْطَاءِ الْمِائَتَيْنِ وَيُكْرَهُ أَنْ يُعْطِيَهُ فَوْقَ الْمِائَتَيْنِ.
If he has dependents, he should have enough for them too but not be left left with 200 dirhams spare (I’m interpreting here because they say that about paying off someone’s debt).
However, there is no strict limit. If more is given, zakah is done.
Malikis say it’s left to judgement. I like that opinion.
It really depends. If you are distributing to lots of people, don’t give too much to one as it deprives others. Balance it out.
If you are giving to a relative who is likely to come back to you again and again and develop dependency, consider setting them up permanently if you can. Or if its someone with a specific need, give them enough to fulfil that need if you can.
Another way to explain the Hanafi view is, don’t give them enough to make them sahib al-nisab (be left with enough to qualify them as a zakah giver). So after they fulfil whatever need they have, they shouldn’t be left with more than 200 dirhams.
I think this is a better way to put it than saying, don’t give them 200 dirhams. 200 dirhams might not suffice them even one day because they are in debt, or have some other emergency or need.
This makes sense when you consider the fact that zakah can be given to someone who can’t fulfil their needs even though they have a house and necessary possessions, even a car.
I’ve struggled with the karahah opinion in the Hanafi school. Although I haven’t read it specifically, it has to be makruh tanzihi not tahrimi. The latter would require solid evidence.

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