Repaying the debt which is incurred due to buying of prohibited things

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Question :

A following question was posed to the Permanent Committee for Islaamic Verdicts and Scholarly Researches under the presidency of al-‘allaamah Abdul-Azeez bin Abdullah bin Baz –may Allaah have mercy upon him-

In the past I used to smoke cigarettes and specifically what is referred to as shisha (the form of tobacco commonly smoked through a pipe connected to a glass vessel). And when I quit this wicked habit –and all praise is for Allaah-, the employee who works at the café told me that I am indebted a sum of money (from the shisha I consumed previously). Therefore, should I give him this money or what? Please advise me may Allaah reward you.

Answer :

If this money that is owed is for the cost of something muharram (forbidden), then certainly it is not permissible for you to return it back to its owner because as this is from helping one another upon sin and transgression. And it is (reported) in Saheeh al-Bukhari (in the Book of) Expeditions (4069), Saheeh Muslim (in the Book of) Salutations (2180), Sunan Abi Dawood (in the Book of) Manners (4929), Sunan Ibni Majaah (in the Book of) (Marriage), Musnad Ahmed bin Hanbal (6/290), Muwatta Malik (in the Book of) Judgments (1498):

That the Messenger ﷺ cursed the one who accepts/consumes riba (usury), the one who gives it, the two witnesses to it and the one who records it (i.e. the transaction).

While in the ‘Sunan’ of Tirmidhi (in the Book of) Virtues (3613), the Musnad of Ahmed bin Hanbal (5/137) and others, the Messenger ﷺ cursed ten (kinds of people) with regard to alcohol and from them are:

… The one who sells it (i.e. alcohol) and consumes its price, the one who buys it and the one for whom it is bought.

Therefore, if this debt was for something which is permitted, then surely it is an obligation upon you to repay it being that this is the right of (another) being/person which you owe to someone. And with Allaah is success. And may peace and the salutation of Allaah be upon the Messenger.

Source: Fatawa al-Lajnah ad-Daaimah, the 1st Compilation (14/70), Fatwa no. 18172

T.N: If the person who is indebted to another for the cost of a service or merchandise which is muharram (impermissible) fears that if he does not repay the outstanding sum of money, he will face a significant harm from the one who he is indebted to, then it is permitted for him to repay the money as a means of evading the harm and evil of that person.

The evidence for this is the hadeeth which was reported by Ibnu Majaah (1909) and others on the authority of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri –may Allaah be pleased with him- who said that the Messenger ﷺ

“Do not harm. And do not be a cause of harm” i.e. the legislation of al-Islam has prohibited all forms of harm.

The hadeeth was authenticated by al-Albani –may Allaah have mercy on him- in his book Irwaa al-Ghaleel (3/410).

Note: As for giving the haram money which is owed in charity to the needy, then there is no evidence –as far as my knowledge- which obligates this, however some scholars have mentioned that it is to be done.

Compiled by : Noble brother Abu ‘Atiyah Mahmood bin Muhammad