As a Son, is it Obligatory to Pay Off his Father’s Loans and Debts

My father is a business man. Few years back, a person cheated him and he incurred heavy loss. After that, there was no business and in order to run the existing business and get new business and to cover our educational/family expenses, he took loans from relatives, banks and various financial institutions with an intention to pay it back soon. But, he faced more losses again and he sold our house to pay off part of the debts. He still has loans/debts which he is trying very hard to pay off. He has paid so much of interest till today, for the loans he has taken. He regrets for it and prays to Allah to forgive him and works very hard to pay off his debts soon. He has gone old and gets tired soon. He is running the business just to pay off his debts. He does not have money or property which he can use to pay off his debts and close his business. If he closes his business and does not pay the loans/debts which he took and informs everyone that he lost everything in business and has nothing to pay back, will he be questioned by the Almighty Allah for not paying it off? As a son, am I obliged to pay off his loans/debts?

Shariah has emphasized on paying ones debts. Consider the following hadith:
Abu Sa’eed (RA) said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) saying, “I seek refuge from disbelief and debt.” A man said, “Oh messenger of Allah do you equate disbelief with debt?” He replied “Yes.” Ibn Umar (RA) narrates that the Prophet (SAWS) said, “A debt is the flag of Allah on the land; when he wishes to disgrace a slave then he places it on his neck. Uqbah bin ‘Amir (RA) narrates that he heard the Prophet (SAWS) saying, “Do not instil fear in your hearts after its security!” They said, “What is that oh Messenger of Allah?” He said, “A debt.”
 
If your father has exhausted all possible avenues to pay his debts, he should discuss his difficulties with his creditors. It is possible his creditors may absolve him from the full debt. That will bring some relief to your father. Shariah has also encouraged the creditors to be lenient to their debtors. Abu Mas’ud (RA) said that the Prophet (SAWS) said, “A man from the people before you was reckoned with and no good was found from him except that he used to mix with the people and being a rich man, would order his servants that they overlook the one who was poor in paying his debts.  Abu Hurayrah (RA) said that the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said, “Whoever is lenient upon a poor man Allah Ta’ala will be lenient with him in this world and the hereafter”
 
In principle, though you are not legally responsible for your father’s debts. Nobody can claim and right over you for your father in paying of his debts. However if you assist your father in paying of his debts, that will be an act of great virtue.
 
 
 
 

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