Debt is an obligation for us to pay back something that we had borrowed from other people.
This is not a mild matter because the calculation will last to the hereafter which can burden the affairs of the person who owes and the person who lent it. So, you should not underestimate this matter.
Debt problems will cause a problem that can lead to fighting or hostility. But, sometimes there occurs different cases. Then, what if you want to pay back your debt but the person who lent it has died or the person had disappeared without anyone knowing?
Answering this question, Islam has set some conditions and solutions. Here are some recommended ways to pay off debts when the person who lent it cannot be found anymore.
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Allah SWT said in the Qur’an Al-Hadid: 7,
“Believe you in Allah and His Messenger and spend (in part) on your wealth that Allah has made you master. Then, those who believe among you and spend part of their wealth receive a great reward.”
The Messenger of Allah said,
“Whoever takes human property and wants to pay it, God will (help) to pay it; and whoever takes it and wants to destroy it, God will (help) to destroy it.” (Narrated by Bukhori)
So, if it is true that we don’t know anything about their existence and their family, it is better to donate the payment under the name of the person who lent us the money.
Somehow if the person who lent it or his heirs is found in the future, but the money has already been given away; then there are two choices: tell them honestly that the money has been donated under their name or beg for his sincerity.
And if the person who lent it has gone, but you know about the heir existence, then the heir is entitled to the repayment money and we are obliged to give it.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaimin Rahimahullah said,
“If you have a debt obligation to someone and you have not paid off and feel the debt is still there until the person who handles it takes their rights and the person who gave the debt has died, then the debt is given to the heirs. If you do not know the heirs or the person or where he is, then the debt can be donated on his behalf sincerely.”
And Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala knows this and will fulfill this person.” (Syarh Riyadhus Shalihin, I/47)
However, if the person who lent it still wants the money back, we better return it to him.
It is narrated from Ibn Masud Radhiallahu ‘Anhu that he bought slaves from a man. Then he entered (into the house) to take payment money. So with that, he gave alms with the money and said, “O God, this money belongs to the slave master. If he is pleased, then reply for him. But if he is reluctant, then a reply for me and for him, my kindness is in accordance with the levels.” (Tazkiyatun Nufus, Ibnu Rojab, Ibnul Qoyyim, and Imam Al Ghozali by Dr. Ahmad Farid).
Hope you will get enlightened after reading this article. Perhaps if you face the similar difficulties mentioned above, don’t hesitate to practice the solutions. Believe that it will help to release your burden!