Fatwa ID: 02566
Answered by: Molana Muhammad Adnan
What is the Islamic Sharia ruling – if someone owes money (has debt) and refuses to pay?
There are two aspects to debt recovery, if the person is able to pay or if he is unable to pay. It is preferable to forgive a bankrupt person the money he owes or to keep giving him respite. There is a number of Ahadeeth which mention the virtues of such people who forgive or give respite, it is a form of Sadaqah to give respite.
“If the debtor is in a difficulty, grant him time till it is easy for him to repay. But if you remit it by way of charity, that is best for you if you only knew.” (Surah al-Baqarah, V: 280)
If the person is able to pay then it is preferable to take the person to court to recover debt, generally, in order for this, the transaction will warrant two witnesses to sign a document to say they witnessed the loan agreement and transfer of item/money.
Confiscating items and recovering one’s debt from them is also an option, but without transgression and violating the law of the land.
Imam Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states:
“It will not be permitted for the rightful one to recover his right from other than the actual item that is owed to him. However, Imam Shafi’i has allowed this (to recover one’s right even from other than the actual item that is owed) and his position is more facilitating.”
Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) comments on the above by stating:
“This impermissibility was in their (fuqaha) time. The Fatwa position today is that it will be permitted (due to moral decline).” (Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr, 5/300)
Only Allah Knows Best
Written by Molana Muhammad Adnan
Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham