Am I Allowed to Give Charity Even Though I Am in Debt That Is Accruing Interest?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

I have a student loan that is presently accumulating interest. I am making payments towards it, but there is a considerable amount remaining.

Is it okay for me to give money in sadaqa while the loan is still being paid off?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Giving charity is a recommended act and indeed very virtuous. However, paying off your debts and preventing the accumulation of more and more interest is an obligation. In principle, the obligatory take precedence over the recommended. This can also be understood in the lens of the principle:

“Averting harm comes before acquiring benefit.” [Ibn Nujaym, al-Ashbah wa al-Nazair]

Consider the following advice:

Despite the above, if you are on a consistent payment plan that will help you effectively and expediently pay off your debts, stick to that plan. And if you find that you can still afford to give some voluntary charity – then it is permitted and you will be rewarded for it, even though it is superior to put any extra money toward paying your debts.

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.