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The Islamic importance of paying off debt

As the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer announced Wednesday Britain's highest peacetime borrowing level at £400 billion, MUSLIM EYE reminds him of the importance of paying off debt. Faima Bakar addressed the issue from an Islamic perspective last November in the online newspaper for London Transport Metro News.

My dad is a stickler for rules, particularly where it involves hospitality towards other people. As a teenager who’d occasionally sponge off my mates for a quick McDonald’s trip or to go out, I’d be reminded that it was important I pay them back. It’s not just because he didn’t want my friends to think I couldn’t be trusted to borrow money – as a Muslim, he taught me to pay off debt as soon as possible, even if it was as little as £1. Borrowing and lending has serious consequences in Islamic culture and debt is an other worldy punishable offence – it may stop you from entering heaven.

While debt has social and personal implications for the average person, for Muslims there’s a religious element too. The Prophet Muhammed who was noted as saying: ‘If a man was killed in battle for the sake of Allah, then brought back to life and he owed a debt, he would not enter Paradise until his debt was paid off.’ Outstanding debts are aligned with a person’s outcome in the afterlife so Muslims take it pretty seriously. Muslims believe not paying off debt can stop them from entering heaven.

A corporate insolvency practitioner, Al-nur (who is Muslim) helps businesses and individuals in debt and he says they are often similar. He tells Metro.co.uk that just as there is a great consequence for not paying debt off in Islam, there are rewards too to be had for those writing them off. ‘In Islam, debt is an obligation that needs to be fulfilled,’ he says. ‘Islam takes the matter of debt very seriously and warns against it and urges the Muslim to avoid it as much as possible. ‘However, we are taught that there is a huge reward for those who forgive and write off debt for someone who owes them money.’ Most of the personal insolvency situations he sees are to do with credit cards and payday loans with ‘ridiculous’ interest rates he says. He understands that money just has to be borrowed sometimes, but encourages people to live without excess material consumption. He adds: ‘Unfortunately, we live in an era where everyone is encouraged to live off credit. Everyone needs to own a house. Everyone borrows to finance a car or even a mobile phone. ‘So my obvious advice is you don’t need this material lifestyle. In Islam we are taught that we should live life like a traveller, this life is a matter of days and that we should work towards the next life which is eternal.’

Al-nur’s last bit of advice is to see a practitioner for free advice should you need extra support in handling it. With such grave importance placed on the topic, we’ve answered some common questions surrounding debt and Islam. What does the Quran say about debt? There are several references to debt in the Quran. One of the most important things is to write owed payments down. It’s decreed that every contract of debt should be written down by a scribe with fairness (no biases). It’s also advised to have at least two witnesses. The Holy Quran also states that those lending must not make any profit on the monetary exchange (interest).

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2019/11/11/the-islamic-importance-of-paying-off-debt-11045485/?ito=cbshare

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