Assalamu’alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Paying zakat is part of the five pillars of Islam. And a man who refused to pay Zakat, besides getting sin, also considered as a person who blasphemy the Islam sovereignty. So the Caliph Abu Bakr As-Siddiq fight those who refused to pay Zakat.
On the other hand, debt is also an obligation which is must be paid. Just to illustrate how the urgency and importance of law to pay the debt, we can look at the provisions for people who were martyred.
Rasulullah SAW has determined that Allah promise a man who was martyred to enter Paradise without reckoning. But in one conditions, if he still have debts, it still can not go to heaven until he had completed his debts.
Now, if we have such two obligations, it will be an interesting question, which one should be paid first? Do we have to pay the debt or Zakat first?
To answer this intriguing question, we can open the books of fiqh of zakat. The one that quite popular is the fiqh of zakat which is arranged by Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. At least, the book is available in front of us.
In summary, among the many terms mentioned in the book, that is, someone has to pay zakat when their assets are free and it’s proprietary does not belongs to someone else. A person who is in debt and he should pay to, obviously his first obligation is paying its debts. While the obligation to pay zakat is paid when the obligation to pay the debts are finished. (Ahmad Sarwat, Lc/rumahfiqih.com)