Aspects of the Islamic Faith 115: Personal attitude to debt


Debt is a normal practice in human life. People often have need for money that they do not have. If they expect to have money at a later time and their need is immediate, they try to borrow from a friend or a financial institution. In modern business, borrowing is a normal practice. Many a business will not flourish unless there are arrangements for borrowing and lending. Islam recognizes this need and establishes some detailed rules concerning debt and its repayment. The Prophet (peace be upon him) also lays down certain principles that people need to observe when they borrow and lend.

Abu Hurayrah quotes the Prophet as saying: “Whoever takes other people’s money, intending to repay it, God will repay it for him, and whoever takes it intending to waste it, God will leave him in ruin.” We note that the Hadith is concerned with people’s intentions and their attitude to the debt they incur. It gives us a good idea of how Islam views personal property.

There is no doubt that Islam respects private property and makes clear that no one can take the property of another except in a legitimate way, such as normal trade, a gift or by will and inheritance. Yet people often try to swindle others, and they resort to devious and wicked means to do that. Islam prohibits all these and insists on fair deals in all situations.

The Hadith we are discussing today makes this clear. If a person takes money or some property of another, then God will look into his case according to his intention, which is perfectly known to God. If he borrows money, or takes it in any other way, intending to repay it on time, or as agreed with the lender or the owner, then God will help him to repay it by facilitating his efforts to get what he needs for such repayment. If he dies before he makes the repayment, God will repay his debt. This is what is meant by the Prophet’s statement, ‘God will repay it for him’. The repayment by God may be in different forms. He may enable the debtor’s heirs to repay it, or may motivate the borrower to write off the debt. In this latter case, God will generously reward and compensate the lender.

Some people borrow money and have no intention of repaying it. Islam views this attitude very seriously. It is not merely an attempt to swindle; it often involves telling lies that may be repeated over a long period of time, as the lender makes his demand for repayment time after time and the borrower tries to evade repayment. The Hadith gives a very serious warning against such an action. It tells the one who takes money from another, intending to waste it for the owner, by evading repayment, that God will cause his ruin. This may be in this life or in the life to come. In this present life, God may deprive him of any enjoyment of the money he has taken from others, or may cause him to use it for emergencies that he could not have foreseen, such as an illness in his family. In the hereafter, God will hold him to account for his deed. He will punish him for illegally taking the property of another. The punishment may be by giving the lender or the owner some of the good deeds of the borrower. If he has no good deeds, then God will make him bear the burden of some of the offences of the lender. What is certain is that God will not forgive him such deeds.

read on Arabnews

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