Can I Use Haram Money to Pay Off My Debts?
Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel
I used to be in the US army when I was younger and lied to them to get disability payments. Now that I’ve become more religious, I don’t want to accept the money because, according to what I understand from scholars, it would be haram, and I have to pay them back the money.
The problem is I have loans I need to pay off amounting to around 20k USD, and I know that not paying debt is bad and could cause me to not go to heaven.
If I were to use the VA money to pay off the loans and not return the money to the VA Department, would it be considered a debt, or would I just incur sin in this life but not be accountable to debt in the next life?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.
I pray you are in good faith and health. Thank you for seeking an Islamic answer.
One cannot use unlawful (haram) money to pay off a debt. The money you acquired through the VA Disability payment was unlawful; therefore, it has to be returned to the rightful owner, the VA Department. If you were to use it for your benefit, it would be sinful. [Ibn ’Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Usmani, Fiqh al-Buyu]
As for your debt, you have a clear intention to pay it, so please don’t worry about it. You will not be held accountable if you have an intended arrangement to repay your debts.
Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Among the greatest of sins in Allah’s sight which a man commits, after the major sins which Allah has prohibited, is that a man should die while in debt, without making any (arrangement) for it to be paid off.” [Abu Dawud]
Dua for Debt
Continue making dua all the time with this prophetic supplication, mentioned in the following hadith:
Ali (Allah be pleased with him) reported, a slave who had made a contract with his master to pay for his freedom came to me and said: “I am unable to fulfill my obligation, so help me.” He said to him, “Shall I not teach you a supplication which the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) taught me? It will surely prove so effective that if you have a debt as large as a huge mountain, Allah will surely pay it for you. Say:
.اللَّهُمَّ اكْفِنِي بِحَلاَلِكَ عَنْ حَرَامِكَ وَأَغْنِنِي بِفَضْلِكَ عَمَّنْ سِوَاكَ
‘Allahumm-akfini bihalalika ‘an haramika, wa aghnini bifadlika ‘amman siwaka
(O Allah! Grant me enough of what You make lawful so that I may dispense with what You make unlawful and enable me by Your Grace to dispense with all but You).” [Tirmidhi]
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May Allah (Most High) give you abundant blessings in your sustenance (rizq) and ease in your work to repay your debts, amin.
I pray this helps with your question.
[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied in the UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. He started his early education in the UK. He went on to complete the hifz of the Quran in India, then enrolled in an Islamic seminary in the UK, where he studied the secular and ‘Aalimiyya sciences. He then traveled to Karachi, Pakistan. He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for several years. He has taught hifz of the Quran, Tajwid, Fiqh, and many other Islamic sciences to children and adults onsite and online extensively in the UK and Ireland. He taught at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK, where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences. He currently resides in the UK with his wife. His interest is a love of books and gardening.