Q: I’m a 22 year old graduate student studying for my Master’s in Physiology. I live in Cleveland, Ohio, USA and I was wondering if someone would be able to answer my question. I’m currently $124,000 in debt due to government loans, which charge interest. I was under the impression that under situations of necessity, the haram becomes halal, however I recently found out that the definition of “necessity” means life or death. I took out the loans so that I could complete my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I’m planning on going to medical school in Fall 2014 and I will be required to take out even more loans (with interest). I found out that there’s a military service program (HPSP – health professions scholarship program) for medical students in which the military will pay all tuition and fees, along with a monthly stipend, but will require 4 years of military service as payback. This will mean I will have to live without my family for months at a time. I’m planning on doing this program so that I do not have to take out further riba-based loans, and so that I can begin to pay off my current loan with my monthly stipend. However, there are other non-military programmes out there as well, but they will only forgive my loan after 10 years, which means I will be paying interest for at least 10 years. Also, there are some residency programmes that offer signing bonuses and partial loan forgiveness that might reduce the time required to pay off my debt to 3-5 years. Dropping out of medical school doesn’t seem like a good option since I will end up paying the interest on my loan anyway. Any career besides medicine will most likely pay less, and thus take longer to pay off my loan (resulting in more interest). In the meantime, is there anything else I should do? I don’t come from a wealthy family, and there are hardly any interest-free student loans offered for regular middle-class families. I guess, I can only keep asking for Allah’s forgiveness and pray for a way out of this debt.
I’m sure there are many other Muslim students in America in my situation. I appreciate any answer.
A: Continue making tawbah for getting involved in this major sin. Since your debts and liabilities exceed your possessions, it is permissible for you to accept zakaat. You may contact the Islamic bodies (Jamiatul Ulama, etc.) in your country and seek their assistance in this regard.
And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.
الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ الرِّبَا لَا يَقُومُونَ إِلَّا كَمَا يَقُومُ الَّذِي يَتَخَبَّطُهُ الشَّيْطَانُ مِنَ الْمَسِّ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا إِنَّمَا الْبَيْعُ مِثْلُ الرِّبَا وَأَحَلَّ اللَّـهُ الْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ الرِّبَا فَمَن جَاءَهُ مَوْعِظَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِ فَانتَهَىٰ فَلَهُ مَا سَلَفَ وَأَمْرُهُ إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَمَنْ عَادَ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ ﴿البقرة: ٢٧٥﴾
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِّنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ ﴿المائدة: ٩٠﴾
عن جابر رضي الله عنه قال لعن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم آكل الربا وموكله وكاتبه وشاهديه وقال هم سواء رواه مسلم ( مشكوٰة المصابيح ص244)
عن أبي هريرة عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال ليأتين على الناس زمان لا يبقى أحد إلا أكل الربا فإن لم يأكله أصابه من بخاره ويروى من غباره رواه أحمد وأبو داود والنسائي وابن ماجه ( مشكوٰة المصابيح ص245)
وعن عبد الله بن حنظلة غسيل الملائكة قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم درهم ربا يأكله الرجل وهو يعلم أشد من ستة وثلاثين زنية رواه أحمد والدراقطني وروى البيهقي في شعب الإيمان عن ابن عباس وزاد وقال من نبت لحمه من السحت فالنار أولى به ( مشكوٰة المصابيح ص245)
Checked & Approved: