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Do You Know the Worst Type of Bankruptcy?

Do You Know the Worst Type of Bankruptcy?

The Prophet once asked his Companions, “Do you know who the bankrupt is?

The Companions said, “A bankrupt is the one who has neither dirham (money) nor wealth.”

The Prophet said,

The bankrupt among my Ummah is he who would come on the Day of Judgment with prayers, fasting, and zakah; but he had offended one person, slandered another, devoured others’ wealth, shed the blood of this person, and beat that person.

Each one of these people would be given some of the wrongdoer’s good deeds.

If his good deeds fall short of settling the account, then their sins will be taken from their accounts and thrown into his account, and he would be thrown in the Hellfire. (Muslim)

This hadith is an enough reminder to make those who are Muslims by name and who act against Islamic ethics to be on the alert. Also, we should understand this hadith and keep it in mind in order to avoid being bankrupt and being losers on the Day of Judgment.

In few simple words, the Prophet taught his Companions and every Muslim who believes in him a great lesson, and gave tremendously valuable advice as to how to avoid the Hellfire and be a winner at the Day of Judgment. The Qur’an says in this regard,

{Every soul shall have a taste of death: And only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is saved from the Hellfire and admitted to Paradise will win.} (Aal `Imran 3:185)

The hadith is a message from the Prophet who was concerned for his Ummah and its well-being. As a teacher and messenger, he had a tender heart that was grieved that any of his flock should rush headlong to ruin. He watched carefully over them, and whenever any of them showed signs of faith, his kindness and mercy would surround them and rejoice over them.

This is the true character of our beloved Prophet who is described in the Qur’an,

{Now has come unto you a Messenger from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should perish. He is deeply anxious over you; to the Believers, he is most kind and merciful.} (At-Tawbah 9:128)

Because the Prophet was most kind and most merciful to the believers, he was extremely anxious to teach them what is right and what is wrong, what is halal (lawful) and what is haram (unlawful), what actions lead to Paradise and what actions lead to Hellfire.

Our hadith is an example of his kindness, care, and concern. The Prophet asked his Companions, “Do you know who the bankrupt is?” Obviously, he did not ask them because he did not know. He was a man from the Quraish, a tribe well known for trading. He himself traveled when he was 25 in a trading trip on behalf of the woman who later became his first wife, Khadijah.

He asked them in order to attract their attention to what he was about to say, giving an example of an idea known to them, an example they understood and visualized, so that he could present his message in a clear and practical way.

For the Companions, the bankrupt was the one who had no money or wealth. When a person has no money at all and nothing to sell, he is bankrupt.

What is worse yet is, if on top of that, he owes money to others. In other words, being bankrupt is better than being bankrupt and in debt. But could there be another form or a different meaning for bankruptcy?

This is what the Prophet was trying to convey. He wanted to teach them and us a deeper meaning and form of bankruptcy that is much worse than what they knew and had in mind. Bankruptcy in this life cannot be compared to bankruptcy on the Day of Reckoning — the Day of Judgment.

Bankruptcy in this life is unpleasant, to say the least, but it may be overcome one way or another. The bankrupt may be able to recover from this hardship. He may be lucky and fortunate. Someone may lend him money or help him to stand on his feet.

On the Day of Judgment, the criterion for bankruptcy is completely different. On that day, accounts have to be settled. Money, power, and wealth will not be helpful unless they were used properly during one’s lifetime.

No one can buy good deeds or rewards on that day, simply because there are none for sale. No one will sell you, lend you, or give you one single good deed or reward, not even your own mother. On that day, each person is concerned with their own affairs, their own salvation.

{On that day, man shall run from his own brother, and from his mother and father, and from his wife and his children. Each one of them, at that day, will have enough concern of their own to make them indifferent to others}  (`Abasa 80:34-37)

The only thing that helps on that day is your own good deeds — the rewards that you have earned, by the grace of Allah, through doing righteous deeds in your life, like praying, fasting, giving zakah and charity, being kind to your parents, family, neighbors, and others, helping those who need your help, enjoining goodness, and forbidding and resisting evil.

And yet, all the good deeds that you may have in your account may not be enough for you to enter Paradise. The rewards and the good deeds that you may earn in this life could easily be lost in the hereafter, where they may be consumed by your transgressions and bad manners.

In the example mentioned by the Prophet, the man not only will lose all rewards for his good deeds, but he will have to bear the sins of his victims, as he has run out of rewards and is now unable to redress his wrongdoing. Therefore he will become a real bankrupt and a loser, and then will be thrown into Hellfire.

The lessons that can be learned from the hadith are numerous:

1. Acts of worship could earn us rewards, but they do not do away with the need for good manners. Dealing with people kindly and properly is an indispensable part of our religion.

Obeying Allah, by performing the obligatory rituals and observing the duties we owe to Allah, does not absolve us from completing our duties towards others. Unfortunately, many Muslims seem to think that religion is limited only to their relationship with the Creator.

They pray, fast, give zakah, and perform Hajj and `Umrah. At the same time, you find that they are rude and repulsive when they deal with others. They may cheat or deceive in business.

Whenever they like, some Muslims offend others and backstab them. They lie when they talk, betray when they are trusted, and abuse other’s rights when it is convenient to them. They do not honor their word nor keep a promise.

Instead of helping the weak and the helpless, they may assault them verbally and physically or take advantage of their vulnerability.

This is not the Islamic concept of religion at all. Islam is a comprehensive religion. It contains not only our relationship with the Creator but also our relationship with His creatures. When you look at any book of Shari`ah, you can see the huge spectrum of relations that are covered by the rules established in the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

The Shari`ah  deals with the relationships of a Muslim with himself, his Lord, family, parents, neighbors, friends, enemies, other communities, and the whole world, even animals, trees, and roads.

2. Allah may forgive us for breaching His rights because he is Merciful and Most Forgiving, but He will not forgive us for breaching the rights of His creatures. This is a matter that has to be settled by us in this life if possible. Wrongs have to be corrected. Damages have to be redressed. Apologies have to be made and forgiveness has to be sought. Justice has to be made, it will be made either in this life or in the Hereafter.

3. Our transgressions and wrongdoings to others must be settled in this life before it is too late. Otherwise, settling matters will definitely be made in the hereafter in a way which may run the risk of leaving us bankrupt.

This hadith presents valuable advice and guidance from our beloved Prophet, who is telling us in few simple words how to avoid being bankrupt on the Day of Judgment. Acts of worship are a part of the religion but not the whole religion.

Good manners and proper, fair dealings with other human beings are another part of our religion. Neither part is dispensable. Wisdom dictates that we be quick to seek forgiveness and mend our faults in this life before we have to pay for them dearly on the Day of Reckoning.

We implore Allah to save us all from bankruptcy in this life and on the Day of Judgment.


The article is excerpted with some modifications from the Khutbah Bank. The article was published in 2000.


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