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Sunday 21 April 2024  
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Payment of Debts before the Inheritance is Distributed

I inherited a sum of money from a close relative of mine and the other heirs included his (i.e., the deceaseds) daughter and two wives. Then it became clear after some time that the deceased had many debts and the rest of the heirs refused to take part in the payment of his debits. But my heart felt compassion for the deceased and the responsibility for this before Allaah, Most High, so I decided to do business with the money which I had so that I might increase it and pay the debts which were upon him, because his debits amounted to more then the money which I had. What is the ruling?

It is not permissible for the heirs of the deceased to take anything from his estate except after the payment of his debts, because when Allaah, Most High mentioned inheritance, He said: After the payment of legacies he may have bequeathed or debts. [1] Based upon this, the heirs have no right to anything from the property of their testator, except after the payment of his debt, So if they divided up the inheritance in ignorance of this debt, then it became apparent, every one of them must return what he inherited for the purpose of paying his (the deceaseds) debt. If any of them refused to do so, he is a sinner and a transgressor against the deceased and against the creditor. So if you have already undertaken this action to trade with what you hold from the inheritance, in order to increase it so that you can pay the debts owed by the deceased, then this is an act of personal judgement, and since it occurred as a result of personal judgement on your part, I hope that you will not be guilty of sin in doing it. And you must pay the debt from the original money which you inherited and from its profits, but such an action as you have done is not permissible, because it is not your right to dispose of money which does not belong to you; however, since you did as a result of personal judgement, I hope that you will not be a sinner.

[1] An-Nisa 4:11.

Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-`Uthaymeen
Fatawa Islamiyah Vol. 5 Page 78
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