Father neither prays nor repays his debts
Fatwa No: 326887

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. I belong to a Muslim family and want to ask about my father. My father used to earn income through wrong means and still does so. He does not pray and is far away from Islamic deeds. Due to his unjust earnings, we have been in many crises for a long time. Day after day, many people come up to ask for money that my father took from them as a loan and has not returned. My mother is suffering from cancer and the doctor has asked to keep her away from stress. According to the doctor, she suffers from this disease due to long stressful suffering. My mother is a good lady who prays and asks Allaah for guidance for my father, but he still remains on the same path. Through some fellows, I discovered that my father has started taking drugs too. We are being threatened by many people and have been asked to give our father to them. My father always hides from them and lets my mother face them. Thus, being a daughter, and my mother being a wife, my question is: what should we do, given that our family is in danger, and how can we prevent our family from falling in disgrace? Kindly help us with the light of Islamic teaching ASAP.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger. 

If your father is truly as described in the question, then he is neglectful of the rights of Allaah over him by abandoning the prayer, which is the most important pillar of religion and the bond between the slave and his Lord. Verily, he who abandons the prayer is committing a grave sin, especially given that some scholars held that abandoning the prayer, even out of laziness, is an act of Kufr (disbelief). In addition, he is neglectful of the rights of people over him by taking their money and not giving it back to them.

Firstly, we advise you to supplicate Allaah to guide him to the straight path. Allaah ordered us to supplicate and promised to answer our supplication. Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {And your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” Indeed, those who disdain My worship will enter Hellfire (rendered) contemptible.} [Quran 40:60] Verily, the hearts of the people are in the hand of Allaah; He guides whomever He wills. Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {Whomever Allaah guides - he is the (rightly) guided; and whomever He sends astray - it is those who are the losers.} [Quran 7:178]

Secondly, we advise you to be patient and to show kindness towards him, especially on the part of his children, who are enjoined to show kindness and dutifulness towards him even if he mistreats them. In addition, their dutifulness towards him might help them in influencing him.

Thirdly, he should be advised to observe the obligation of the prayer and should be reminded of Allaah and His severe punishment if He does not bestow His mercy upon him. The one who advises him should be a person to whom he would most likely listen. He should remind him of the importance of the prayer and of the fact that observing the obligation of the prayer is one of the means of earning lawful livelihood and have a prosperous life. Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {And enjoin prayer upon your family (and people) and be steadfast therein. We ask you not for provision; We provide for you, and the (best) outcome is for (those of) righteousness.} [Quran 20:132] He should also explain the danger of taking people's money and refraining from repaying them to him. Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said, “Whoever takes the money of people with the intention of repaying it, Allaah will repay it on his behalf, and whoever takes it in order to spoil it, then Allaah will spoil him.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Fourthly, if your father has wealth from which he can repay the debt, then it is impermissible for him to delay the repayment because this would be injustice. Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said, “Delay (in the payment of debt) on the part of a rich man is injustice.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

If he is insolvent, then his creditors are obliged to give respite to him until he is able to pay off the debts. Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {And if someone is in hardship, then (let there be) postponement until (a time of) ease. But if you give (from your right as) charity, then it is better for you, if you only knew.} [Quran 2:280]

Al-Haytami  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “By applying the general wording of this verse and not restricting it to the specific circumstances in which it was revealed, the creditor is obliged to give respite to the insolvent debtor. This is the view of a group of scholars.” [Az-Zawaajir]

Hence, you are not obliged to inform the creditors of your father's place. You may even resort to indirect speech and Tawriyah (i.e. saying something which has more than one meaning and intending a meaning different from what the listener is likely to understand) to get rid of them. It is permissible for the insolvent debtor to hide from his creditors if he cannot repay them. Some scholars even stated that it is a valid excuse for missing the Friday prayer as well as the other congregational prayers.

Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “...if the insolvent debtor fears the creditor from whom he cannot hide and he does not have money to repay his debt. Imprisoning the debtor in this case would be unjust. But if the debtor is able to repay the debt, then he has no excuse (in missing the congregational prayer for this reason) because it is incumbent on the solvent debtor to repay his debt without delay...” [Al-Mughni]

For more benefit, please, refer to fataawa 19274 - 23587 - 88120.

Allaah knows best.

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