Q: How is a poor and rich person distinguished for Zakat purposes?

A: The Hanafi school have used the Zakat Nisab as the margin and threshold to distinguish between the poor and wealthy. Therefore, a poor person is one who does not own any Zakatable assets nor surplus assets which equates to the Nisab.

The Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali schools have not used the Zakat Nisab to distinguish between poverty and affluence, rather, they have made Kifāyah (sufficient provisions) the distinguishing factor. Therefore, whoever possesses sufficient wealth and assets for himself and his dependents is wealthy. Whoever does not own sufficient money and assets for himself and his dependents is poor.

The Hanbali school has a second opinion which states that if a person has the equivalent of 50 dirhams, he is considered wealthy even if it is not sufficient for him.