The Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali schools have not used the Zakat Nisab to distinguish between poverty and affluence as far as receiving Zakat is concerned, rather they have made Kifayah (sufficiency) the distinguishing factor. Therefore, whoever possesses sufficient wealth and assets for himself and his dependents for essential needs for a given period is wealthy. Whoever does not own sufficient money and assets for himself and his dependents for a given period can receive Zakat according to this opinion.

Needs to be considered under the Kifayah framework

Food, clothing, accommodation, transport and utilities for the applicant and his dependents.
If there are any other essentials required by an applicant, that can be considered on a case by case
basis.

Eligible recipients under Kifayah:

The applicant has no funds for his needs
The applicant has insufficient funds for his and his dependents’ needs
The applicant has a job but not sufficient to cover his basic costs
The applicant has a source of income or someone providing for him but does not cover his costs
The applicant has some funds but insufficient for his needs
The applicant has insufficient funds to cover his necessary expenses for the forthcoming year.

The Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali school differ in the timeframe to assess sufficiency. The Maliki and
Hanbali school have a timeframe of one year. So, a needy person is he who does not currently own
and possess sufficient essentials of life to get him through the next twelve months. The Shafi’i
school have a broader understanding of sufficiency and consider life expectancy, geographical
location and other variables when calculating what is sufficient for a person.

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