Prophet's mortgaged shield was debt settlement
Fatwa No: 343042

Question

On my last visit to your website, I have seen a strange hadith and want to know its legitimacy because that hadith states that the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, died whilst he was indebted to a Jew. Is that true? Then what about the hadith that says that even if a person died a martyr while owing something to others, they will get the punishment for that. The hadiths are:
‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, narrated, “The Prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam died while his shield was mortgaged with a Jew for 30 Saa’ of wheat (a Saa’ equals approximately one-and-a-half kilograms).” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
The Prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, said, “The soul of a believer remains hanging with his debt till it is paid off (on his behalf after his death).” [Ahmad, Abu Daawood, At-Tirmithi, An-Nasaa’i and Ibn Maajah]
The Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) also said, ”Every sin of the martyr is forgiven except debt.” [Muslim]

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

 

This hadeeth – we mean the hadeeth narrated by ‘Aa’ishah – is authentic without any doubt, and it is at the highest degree of authenticity as it was agreed upon by both Al-Bukhaari and Muslim.

Its content is also authentic: that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) died while his shield was mortgaged with a Jew in return for a debt.

This does not contradict the two ahaadeeth which you mentioned, as the scholars mentioned several answers to reconcile between them; the most apparent meaning is that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) left the shield as collateral so that the creditor (the Jew) would get back his right (would keep the shield as settlement for the debt).

Al-Maawardi mentioned this, and Ibn Hajar quoted it from him in Fat-h Al-Baari.

The threat that is mentioned in the two ahaadeeth is for someone who does not leave a fulfillment for his debt.

Allah knows best.

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