Dangers and Punishments of Unsettled Debts
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Dangers and Punishments of Unsettled Debts

Questioner

Hakeem

Reply Date

Nov 19, 2016

Question

I am working to help my husband for our living, as his salary is not sufficient for our basic needs and education of our kids. I have borrowed some money from different people to settle our other debts. Alhamdulillah, I can say that ALLAH tests our faith in terms of “money”. One day, I was listening to a lecture about severe punishment for a Muslim who has not settled his debts in which it was mentioned that during the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him), he never prayed to the deceased person who has not settled his debts. The lecturer mentioned a du`aa' but I was not able to write it down. Can you please tell me about the punishments in the grave and the du`aa' to help me settle my debts.

Mufti

Answer


Dangers and Punishments of Unsettled Debts

Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear sister, thank you for your good question that shows your interest to know more about Islam and its teachings and your zeal to follow the rulings of Islam.

It is obvious that debt is a wide door of problems for both the borrower and the lender. Hence, a Muslim should avoid it except in very serious cases in which he is in bad need for borrowing.

Answering your question, we would like to cite the following fatwa issued on www.islamqa.info:

Firstly:

The jurists define debt as an obligation to be fulfilled, as it is said in Al-Mawsu`ah Al-Fiqhiyyah (21/102). The lateral meaning of the word debt (dayn in Arabic) has to do with submission and humiliation. The connection between the Shar`i (juristic) meaning and the linguistic meaning is clear. The debtor is a prisoner, as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Your companion is being detained by his debt.” (Abu Dawud)

Secondly:

Islam takes the matter of debt very seriously and warns against it and urges the Muslim to avoid it as much as possible.
It was narrated from ‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to say in his prayer: “Allaahumma inni a’oodhu bika min al-ma’tham wa’l-maghram (O Allah, I seek refuge with You from sin and heavy debt).” He was asked: “How often you seek refuge from heavy debt!” He said: “When a man gets into debt, he tells lies, and makes a promise and breaks it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

An-Nasaa’i narrated that Muhammad ibn Jahsh (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

We were sitting with Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) when he raised his head towards the sky, then he put his palm on his forehead and said: “Subhaan-Allah!  What a strict issue has been revealed to me!” We remained silent and were afraid. The following morning I asked him, “O Messenger of Allah, what is this strict issue that has been revealed?” He said, “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if a man were killed in battle for the sake of Allah, then brought back to life, then killed and brought back to life again, then killed, and he owed a debt, he would not enter Paradise until his debt was paid off.” (An-Nasa’i- Classed as hasan by al-Albani)

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) refrained from offering the funeral prayer for one who had died owing two dinars, until Abu Qatadah (may Allah be pleased with him) promised to pay it off for him. When he saw him the following day and said, “I have paid it off.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Now his skin has become cool for him.” (Ahmad and An-Nawawi)

Al-Haafizh Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “This hadith indicates how difficult the issue of debt is, and that it should not be undertaken except in cases of necessity.” (Fath al-Bari 4:547)

It was narrated from Thawban (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever dies free from three things; arrogance, cheating, and debt, will enter Paradise.” (At-Tirmidhi)

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said, “Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The soul of the believer is suspended because of his debt until it is paid off.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Al-Mubarakfuri said in Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi (4/164):

Interpreting the words “the soul of the believer is suspended”, As-Suyuti said: “… it is detained and kept from reaching its noble destination.” Al-‘Iraaqi said, “no judgment is passed as to whether it will be saved or doomed until it is determined whether his debt will be paid off or not.”

It was also narrated that many of the salaf (ascendants) warned against debt:

It was narrated that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Beware of debt, for it starts with worry and it ends with war.” (Malik)

In Musannaf `Abd al-Razzaaq (3/57) it says:

Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Fear Allah and do not die in debt, lest it be taken from your good deeds when there will be no dinars nor dirhams.”

Thirdly:

These stern warnings about debt only came because of the negative consequences to which it leads both on an individual level and on a community level.

With regard to the personal level, al-Qurtubi said in al-Jami’ Li Ahkam al-Qur’an(3/417):

Our scholars said: It is a disgrace and a humiliation because it preoccupies the mind and makes one worried about paying it off, and makes one feel humiliated before the lender when meeting him, and feeling that he is doing one a favor when accepting a delay in payment. Perhaps he may promise himself that he will pay it off then break that promise, or speak to the lender and lie to him, or swear an oath to him then break it, and so on.

Moreover, he may die without having paid off the debt so he will be held hostage because of it, as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The soul of the believer is held hostage by his debt in his grave until it is paid off.” (At-Tirmidhi) All of that undermines one’s religious commitment.”

With regard to the community level, specialists have described the negative consequences and the danger it poses to the economy, for example:

1- Desire for immediate gratification with no thought of the future.

2- Lack of responsibility and self-reliance.

3- Poor distribution of wealth.

Fourthly:

Based on the above, the scholars have stipulated three conditions for debt to be permissible:

1- The borrower should be determined to repay it.

2- It should be known or thought most likely that he is able to repay it.

3- It should be for something that is permissible according to Shari`ah.

Fifthly:

So long as you have taken on a debt so that you can fulfill the duty of helping your husband and family to pay for living expenses, you will be rewarded by Allah for this good deed. I ask Allah to reward you greatly for that. Remember that He will help you to pay off this debt. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The one who takes people’s wealth intending to pay it back, Allah will pay it back for him, and the one who takes it intending to destroy it, Allah will destroy him.” (Al-Bukhari)

Seek help with that by working and striving hard to pay off the debt, and by putting your trust in Allah, and praying to Him to make it easy for you to pay off your debt.

It was narrated that Abu Sa`id al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) entered the mosque and saw an Ansari man whose name was Abu Umamah. He said: “O Abu Umamah, why are you sitting in the mosque when it is not the time for prayer?” He said: ‘Worries and debts, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said: “Shall I not teach you some words which, if you say them, Allah will take away your worries and pay off your debts?” He said: ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said, “Say, morning and evening, ‘O Allah, I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, and I seek refuge with You from incapacity and laziness, and I seek refuge with You from cowardice and miserliness, and I seek refuge with You from being heavily in debt and from being overcome by men.” He (Abu Umamah) said, “I did that, and Allah took away my worry and paid off my debt.” (Abu Dawud)

Allah Almighty knows best.




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