Strangled by Debt

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Sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, stress, hypertension, heart attack and even marriage breakdown... and the list goes on. These are just some of the many consequences of taking on unnecessary debts. It is almost as if a person is strangled to death by debt. How true are the words of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam): “There is no worry like the worry of debt” (Majma‘uz Zawaaid #6641). Luqman (‘alaihis salaam) said to his son: “Avoid debt, for it is sleeplessness at night and a disgrace during the day (when one has to make excuses and lie to one’s creditors and keep hiding from them).

Once Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) cautioned the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum): “Do not put yourself into a state of alarm.” The Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) asked: “And how is that possible.” Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied: “Through debt.”  (Majma‘uz Zawaaid #6623)

Sheer Greed

Among the main reasons for people falling into unnecessary and avoidable debt is lack of contentment, sheer greed and the need to keep up with others. Many people initially live and enjoy a simple life without any major concern and worry.  Unfortunately the “need” for greater comforts and luxuries then creeps in, or the “need” for many more millions, or the “basic need” to keep up with the rich and wealthy takes control of one’s life. When one does not have the money to fulfil these “needs”, one then plunges into borrowing and “financing.” Initially the borrowed cash brings a thrill in the form of luxuries, comforts and the “social boost” by hosting the 7 star wedding reception. After this thrill is over, the heart begins to shrill when the time comes to pay.

Some people may be baffled. “My debtor smiles at me and even laughs when I ask for payment. He simply ignores my calls. His heart does not even flutter over his debts, let alone shrill,” they exclaim. Indeed the heart will shrill ... only if the heart is alive with a conscience. A dead heart is, well, dead. No conscience, no stress, no worry (or so it seems) ... until ... the soul... is suddenly snatched away ...by the Angel of Death. The time to pay back then comes on the day of Judgement.  The payments will be made with one’s good deeds, otherwise one will be loaded with the liabilities (sins) of the creditors and flung into Jahannam, may Allah Ta‘ala save us.

The greed for wealth leads a person to anything. The laws of Allah Ta‘ala are trampled. The rights of people are violated. One is even prepared to enter into ‘war’ with Allah Ta‘ala and Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) by indulging in interest. Allah Ta‘ala very clearly declares in the Quraan: “If you do not (terminate dealing in interest) then beware of war with Allah and His messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) (Baqarah, v279).

This manner of living is in direct opposition to what is the hallmark of a Believer - contentment and satisfaction. The entire life of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was an open demonstration of this fundamental lesson. He also once declared: “True wealth is the contentment of the heart” (Saheeh Bukhaari #6446). Acquiring happiness is the object and goal of earning wealth. Since only a contented person is truly happy, contentment is thus the real wealth.

Zulm

While the shar‘eeah has permitted taking loans (with NO interest), this is meant to be only a last resort in desperate situations. If one does take a loan, one should have the firm resolve of paying in time. Delaying the payment of debt when one has some funds to do so is zulm. What a great oppression is it then, that a person flies around holidaying, while his creditors are waiting for their money. Once a Sahaabi (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) passed away, leaving behind him unfulfilled debts and no funds to settle them.  Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) declined to lead his janaazah salaah until another Sahaabi, Abu Qatada (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), undertook to settle his debts (Saheeh Bukhaari #2289).

Therefore, we should live contented, always remain debt-free (unless in a totally desperate situation) and be happy. Stay away from debt – it could strangle one to “death”, in this world or the Hereafter.

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