Debt is serious matter indeed!!

By Asma Binte Shameem

In this materialistic world where the focus has become running after the whims and fulfilling whatsoever the heart desires, we tend to lose focus on our real goals and begin taking certain matters that are forbidden or discouraged in Islaam, too lightly.

And the matter of taking loans and being in debt is definitely one of them.
And I am NOT talking about taking an “interest based” loan. That is HARAAM for sure. The kind of loan I am talking about is one without interest……one that does NOT involve riba….. The kind that is allowed, yet discouraged in Islaam.
Many people have a very casual approach to being in debt and take out loans, not for some urgent need but, because they want to expand their businesses or keep up with others in buying new cars or furniture or other temporary luxuries of this life.
Taking loans and being in debt is a GRAVE…..GRAVE matter. Islam takes the matter of debt very seriously and warns against it and urges the Muslim to avoid it as much as possible. And yet, we don’t see it as such.

1) The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) used to seek protection from it
The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) used to say in his prayer:

“Allaahumma inni a’oodhi bika min al-ma’tham wa’l-maghram (O Allaah, I seek refuge with You from sin and heavy debt).” Someone said to him: “How often you seek refuge from heavy debt!” He said: “When a man gets into debt, he speak and tells lies, and he makes a promise and breaks it.” (Bukhaari and Muslim).

2) The person in debt will not enter Paradise until the debt is paid off!
Muhammad ibn Jahsh said: ‘We were sitting with the Messenger of Allaah (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) when he raised his head towards the sky, then he put his palm on his forehead and said: “Subhaan-Allaah! What a strict issue has been revealed to me!” We remained silent and were afraid. The following morning I asked him,

“O Messenger of Allaah, 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 Allaah, 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.” (Hasan -al-Nasaa’i).

3) Unnecessary loans is a cause of PUNISHMENT and the WRATH OF ALLAAH!
The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said:

“Whoever asks people for money when he has what is sufficient for him is only asking for more of the embers of Hell.” They asked him, “O Messenger of Allaah, what is sufficient so that he does not have to ask for more?” He said: “Having enough to eat lunch and dinner.” (Abu Dawud- Saheeh).

And he said:

“Whoever asks the people for money when he has what is sufficient for him will come on the Day of Judgment with scratches and lacerations on his face.” (Ahmad).

4) The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) didn’t pray his Janazah
The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) refrained from offering the funeral prayer for someone who had died owing two dinars, until Abu Qataadah (a Sahaabi) promised to pay it off for him. When he saw him the following day he said,

“I have paid it off.” The Prophet said: “Now his skin has become cool for him.” (Hasan-Ahmad)

5) The soul of the one in debt is suspended
The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said:

“The soul of the believer is held hostage by his debt in his grave until it is paid off.” Tirmidhi,

Explaining this hadeeth al-Suyooti said: “It (soul) 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.”

5) The one in debt is a prisoner
The debtor is a prisoner, as the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said:

“Your companion is being detained by his debt.” (hasan-Abu Dawood).

Statements of Sahaabah regarding debt
Umar ibn al-Khattaab said: Beware of debt, for it starts with worry and it ends with war. (Maalik in al-Muwatta).
And Ibn ‘Umar said: “O Humraan, fear Allaah and do not die in debt, lest it be taken from your good deeds when there will be no dinars and no dirhams.”

When is taking a loan permissible?
The Ulama warn us about how difficult the issue of debt is, and that it should not be undertaken except in cases of necessity.
Based on this, there are 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 Sharee’ah.
Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said:
“The debt for which a person will be kept out of Paradise – and Allaah knows best – is that for which he left behind enough to pay it off but he did not leave instructions to that effect, or he was able to pay it off but did not do so, or he took the loan for some unlawful or extravagant matter and died without having paid it off.
As for the one who took a loan for something lawful because he was poor, and he died without leaving behind anything to pay it off, Allaah will not keep him from Paradise because of it, in sha Allaah.”

So take a loan only when absolutely necessary and if you are in a situation of debt right now, try your utmost best to pay off your debts as soon as possible. Strive hard to pay it off, put your trust in Allaah, and pray to Him to make it easy for you to pay off your debt.
The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said:

“The one who takes people’s wealth intending to pay it back, Allaah will pay it back for him, and the one who takes it intending to destroy it, Allaah will destroy him.” (Bukhaari).

There are a number of duas in the Sunnah that the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) used to make to stay away from and pay off debts. I will give them to you next Friday insha Allaah.