Paying off the debt of the deceased

26 Feb 2018 Ref-No#: 302

Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu Mufti Sahab,

Recently a brother passed away (rahimahullah), and we’ve been informed that he left behind a debt of 180’000 euros to privates and 200’000 to business/bank (I don’t know precisely).

Now, the widowed “wife” is pressurized by the creditors to repay such debt, and I’ve been asked to forward you a few related questions:

1. She has been proposed to either rent a shop premises she owns, or run it in franchising as a venue for a supermarket chain.

a. In the first scenario (renting her shop to someone), would she be responsible of what the people renting it would sell in locals which are in her property, but the shop being autonomously managed by a third party? Or they could sell whatever they want and she wouldn’t be responsible? Or it’s matter of percentages?

b. In the second scenario (franchising), she would then be compelled to buy the goods from the supermarket chain store, and thus, she would have to buy (and sell) haram products as well, as she would work in franchising and not autonomously. I think it’s pretty clear that wouldn’t be permissible, not even in small percentages, right?

2. The second question is pertaining to her debt: who is now responsible to pay the debt this deceased brother left behind? Does it automatically pass onto his widowed “wife”, or on his brother? (Their children are still very young). Could his brother take the responsibility to repay his debt?

Jazakallahu khayran,

Wassalam

Answer

Wa’alaykum as Salām wa raḥmatullāhi wa barakātuhu,

Islamically, the wife is not compelled to pay the debt of the deceased husband. However, if it is the law of the land, or she prefers to pay it just so that her deceased husband is not punished, then the responses to her queries will be as follows:

1) If the woman rents out the property without knowing what the lessee will sell, it will be permissible. She will not be responsible thereafter if the lessee starts to sell Ḥarām. If she is aware that they will be selling Ḥarāmbefore leasing out the property, it will not be permissible for her to rent it out. If they sell Ḥarām and Ḥalāl, the ruling will be based on percentage.

2) Yes, this is not permissible, unless she is able to separate the Ḥarām.

3) No one is responsible to pay the debt. If the deceased left behind wealth, then the debt should be paid from it before dividing the estate. If the entire estate is exhausted and still there are outstanding debts, then none of the heirs are bound to pay. Yes, if they do so on their own accord, in the hope that the deceased is not punished, they will be rewarded and that will be a kind gesture on their part. However they cannot be compelled.

(Fatāwā Hindiyyah, Vol. 4, Pg. 450)

ولا تجوز الإجارة على شيء من الغناء والنوح والمزامير والطبل وشيء من اللهو وعلى هذا الحداء وقراءة الشعر وغيره ولا أجر في ذلك وهذا كله قول أبي حنيفة وأبي يوسف ومحمد رحمهم الله تعالى كذا في غاية البيان

ولا بأس بأن يؤاجر المسلم دارا من الذمي ليسكنها فإن شرب فيها الخمر أو عبد فيها الصليب أو دخل فيها الخنازير لم يلحق المسلم إثم في شيء من ذلك لأنه لم يؤاجرها لذلك والمعصية في فعل المستأجر وفعله دون قصد رب الدار فلا إثم على رب الدار في ذلك – المبسوط للسرخسي  16/ 75

وإذا استأجر الذمي من المسلم دارا يسكنها فلا بأس بذلك وإن شرب فيها الخمر أو عبد فيها الصليب أو أدخل فيها الخنازير ولم يلحق المسلم في ذلك بأس لأن المسلم لا يؤاجرها لذلك إنما آجرها للسكنى . كذا في المحيط– الفتاوى الهندية  4/ 450

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