Ramadan Challenge Chapter #4 – Interest and Debt
“O you who have believed, do not consume usury (interest), doubled and multiplied, but fear God that you may be successful.” [3:130][Sahih International]
This verse is utterly relatable. Everything in today’s world is tied to worldly possessions and the need to “have it all.” We are more than ready to do anything to obtain material things without considering some of the consequences of doing so. There is nothing that is out of our reach anymore, with all the easily accessible ways to help us get our hands on what we desire, be it permissible or not.
Everyone has everything by using credit cards, financing, etc., and in theory that’s okay if it’s interest free and you have a way to make sure you can pay it off. But not everyone has that ability, and in reality, you can’t be sure you’ll always have that source of income available to you. Over-consumption can cause the accumulation of debt, and debt in Islam is a very serious matter. Islam warns against debt and even urges us to avoid it as much as possible.
There are many narrations about debt and how important it is for a Muslim to make sure he/she is debt free.
A few of them are:
Al-Nasaa’i (4605) narrated that Muhammad ibn Jahsh said:
We were sitting with the Messenger of God when he raised his head towards the sky, then he put his palm on his forehead and said: “SubhanAllah! What a strict issue has been revealed to me!” We remained silent and were afraid. The following morning I asked him, “O Messenger of God, what is this strict issue that has been revealed?” He said, “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if a man were killed in battle for the sake of God, then brought back to life, then killed and brought back to life again, then killed, and he owed a debt, he would not enter Paradise until his debt was paid off.” (Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i, 4367)
The Prophet refrained from offering the funeral prayer for one who had died owing two dinars, until Abu Qataadah promised to pay it off for him. When he saw him the following day and said, I have paid it off, the Prophet said: “Now his skin has become cool for him.” (Musnad Ahmad (3/629); classed as hasan by al-Nawawi in al-Khalaasah (2/931) and by Ibn Muflih in al-Adaab al-Shar’iyyah (1/104))
Imagine that your debt, no matter how small, could be the reason you do not enter paradise? Imagine that you are not prayed on after your death because of this debt you have on your back? It is such a serious matter that is taken so lightly nowadays! And if that debt has interest, well, that makes it haram (forbidden). It is crystal clear that interest in Islam is wrong, no matter the percentage.
When using credit cards or financing something, always try to find a plan with zero interest. This life is not worth doing wrong for! In the end, the next life is what matters and keeping away from what is haram and making sure nothing stops us from reaching paradise is all we should aim for.