After the provision of burial expenses, the mayyit’s creditors have a prior right on the assets in his estate.
THE KINDS OF QARDH
1. Such debt which is confirmed by a statement of a man made before his maradhul maut (the last illness in which he died), or by the testimony of witnesses, or which is common knowledge.
2. Such a debt which is confirmed by only a statement made by a man during his maradhul maut. There are neither witnesses nor is the debt common knowledge.
PAYMENT OF THE DEBT
a. If the debt is only of the first kind, it will be simply paid from the mayyit’s estate.
b. If the debt is only of the first kind and there is only one creditor, but the estate’s assets are insufficient to pay the debt, after deduction of burial expenses, the balance of the estate will be given to the creditor. He may either waive the balance of the unpaid debt or he may retain his claim for the hereafter. Payment of the debt is not incumbent on the heirs.
Should they willingly pay the debt, it will be an act of merit.
c. If the debt is only of one kind and there are several creditors, but the estate’s assets are insufficient to satisfy the full amount of the debts, then the assets will be distributed among the creditors in proportion to their claims. Example: The mayyit has four creditors, A, B, C, and D. The amount owing A is R6,000; B R3,000; C R2,000 and D Rl,000. The value of the estate is R6,000 which will be distributed among the creditors as follows:
A will receive R3,000 because his claim is 50% of the total debt of R12,000.
B will receive R1,500 because his claim is 25% of the total debt of R12,000.
C will receive R1,000 because his claim is 16 2/3% of the total debt of R12,000.
D will receive R500 because his claim is 8 1/3% of the total debt of R12,000.
d. If the qardh (debt) is of both kinds (the first and second kind mentioned above) and the assets of the estate are insufficient to satisfy all the debts then the creditors of the first kind will firstly be paid. After this payment if there are still assets left, the creditors of the second kind will be paid proportionately.
e. If the assets of the estate are not sufficient for even the first kind of debt, all the assets will be divided among the creditors of the first kind proportionately. The creditors of the second kind will not receive anything in this case. These creditors may either forgive the mayyit and acquire reward (thawab) or postpone their claims for the Akhirah. Payment cannot be demanded from the heirs. It is, however meritorious for the heirs to liberate the mayyit from the burden of debt. Rasulullah (sallalliihu alayhi wasallam) said:
“The Shaheed (martyr) will be forgiven all his sins, but-debt.”
f. The mahr of the wife is exactly like the debt owing to others. If the necessary conditions of the first kind of debt apply, it (the mahr) will be classified as qardh of the first category, otherwise of the second kind, i.e. the excess, more than the Mahr-e-Mithl will be a debt of the second class. (Mahr-e-Mithl is the stipulated. or customary Mahr amount of the woman’s family/tribe). Example: During his maradhul maut the husband declared that he is indebted to his wife for the amount of R5,000 being her Mahr. If there is no sound evidence (witnesses, common knowledge) to confirm this declaration, only the Mahr-e-Mithl amount will be a debt of the first kind. If, for example, the Mahr-e-Mithl is R1,000, then R1,000 will be a debt of the first kind and R4,000 will be assigned to the second category of debt.
THE THIRD CATEGORY OF DEBT
The third kind of qardh is a debt which is owed to Allah Ta’ala. Such debts are:
1. Outstanding Zakaat
2. Outstanding Fitrah
3. Unfulfllled Qur’baani
5. Fidyah for Salat and Saum which could not be executed due to extreme old-age or illness.
Payment of the debts of this category is dependent on the wasiyyat (directive/bequest) of the mayyit. If the man had directed payment of these debts, it will be classified as Wasiyyat. After payment of burial expenses and satisfying creditors, the Wasiyyat will be discharged from one third the value of the remaining estate.
If a third of the remaining estate is insufficient to pay these debts, it is not incumbent on the heirs to pay from their shares. They are, however permitted to pay the full debt from their shares or from any of their own wealth. They may not utilize any of the funds of minor heirs even if the minors consent. The consent of minors is not valid.
WARNING ON INCURRING DEBT UNNECESSARILY
The ahadith have issued severe warnings of punishment for those who leave behind unpaid debts. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) would refrain from conducting the Janazah Salat of such debtors who left insufficient assets to cover their debts. He would instruct others to perform the Salat. In this way would the deceased debtors be deprived of the blessings of Rasulullah’s duas.
According to the Hadith, the Roch of the Mu’min is prevented from entering Jannat as long as his creditors have not been satisfied. Once a Sahabi said:
“O Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)! My brother has died and has left small children. Should I spend money on them (rather than pay his debts)?”
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) replied:
“Your brother is imprisoned on account of his debt. Pay his debt. ”
There are many similar narrations warning of the dire consequences of debt which is left unpaid.
ADVICE TO THE HEIRS
It has already been mentioned that if the heirs refrain from paying the debts of the mayyit if there are insufficient or no assets in his estate, they are not obliged to pay the creditors. However the demand of their relationship of love with the mayyit constrains them to discharge the debts so that the mayyit be set free from the awful burden in the Akhirah. The claims of creditors will extend into the Akhirah and will be presented in the Court of Allah Ta:ala. The heirs should, therefore, endeavour their best to satisfy the creditors.
ADVICE TO THE CREDITORS
The reward of waiving debts is vastly more and superior to giving charity. Hence, it will be in their own everlasting interests to waive the debt of a mayyit whose estate lacks assets to discharge the liability.
Although creditors are entitled to postpone their claims for the Hereafter and acquire the good deeds of the debtor in lieu of their debt, they should understand that by waiving the debt here on earth, the tremendous thawab which they will gain will surpass the value of the thawab~they could acquire by claiming the debtor’s good deeds in the Akhirah. Undoubtedly, the best option is to waive the debt.
It is reliably narrated that there was a wealthy trader who had instructed his employees to be lenient to his debtors who would be freely granted extended time should they be unable to meet their commitments on due-date, and if they were unable to pay, the debt should be waived. When this trader died, he had no goodness to his name besides his leniency and kindness to his debtors. Solely on this account did Allah Ta’ala forgive him. Thus he was granted Jannat.
The Qur’an Majeed exhorts creditors to adopt one of the following options to relieve hard pressed debtors:
l. Waive the whole debt if this is affordable.
2. Waive part of the debt if waiving the whole debt is not affordable.
3. Grant extension of time to the debtors if any of the above options is not affordable.
To be continued….