Q&A (Fatwa)

#308: Ruling on Paying Interest-Accrued Debts on behalf of the Dead


_”Assalaamu alaykum Wa rahmatullah Wa barakaatuh. Paying the debt of the deceased is established, in the case of a decease whose debt is a loan (with interest), what is the heir meant to do?? Jazaakumullaahu khayran”_


Wa alaykum Salām Warahmatullāh Wabarakātuh


It is obligatory to pay off the debt of the deceased once he passes away without delay. This is because the Rasūl – salallāhu alayhi wasallam – said in the Hadīth that was recorded by Imām Ahmad and At-Tirmidhī:

نفس المؤمن معلقة بدينه حتى يقضى عنه

_”The soul of the believer is tied to his debt until it is paid on his behalf.”_

The Hadīth is graded Hasan by At-Tirmidhī and Sahīh by Al-Albānī

Likewise, if the deceased left behind him some wealth, it must be paid from it without delay, and before it is shared and distributed amidst his Inheritors. This is due to what Allāh – ta’ālā – said regarding the inheritance:

مِنْ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصَى بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ {النساء:12}

_”After the actualization of a Will which he left behind, or a debt which he owed”_

As for the interest that has accrued on the debt, it is not regarded as a part of the debt and must not be paid. Rather, the ‘Ulamā have declared paying of such interests as Harām. This is because, such interests were not sanctioned by the Sharī’a in the first place and were Harām for the Creditor to take. It is therefore established that paying to him such Interests is a way of helping him in that wrong.

In _Majmū’ Al-Fatāwā_ Shaykhu Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah – rahimahullāh – said:

_”If the Capital were to have remained unpaid, plus the interest on Capital, the Interest must be annulled and Capital paid”_

Of course, the Rasul – salallāhu alayhi wasallam – has cursed the one who deals in Usury and forces Interest on his debtors. But the curse is not restricted to him, it extends to the givers, the witnesses to it and the recorders. The Rasūl – salallāhu alayhi wasallam – said:

لعن آكل الربا، وموكله، وكاتبه، وشاهديه، وقال: هم سواء

_”Cursed is the one who consumes Usury, the one who gives it, the one who records it and the two that witness to it.”_ He said: _They are all one and the same_.”

It is by virtue of this Hadīth that Muslims who work in modern banks have to review their positions, fear Allāh and seek alternatives to their current jobs, we ask Allah to make that easy for them, āmīn.

It is not permissible to pay off the interest on such loans as we have stated unless if there is compulsion from the Authorities that gave out the debt to the deceased to such an extent that the Family fears greater harm by their refusal to make payments of the Interest. In that case, they may pay it off for Allāh has seen their situation.

Allah knows best

Bārakallāhu Fīkum
Jazākumullāhu Khayran

21st Al Muharram 1439AH

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