The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The one who is bankrupt is the one who will come on the Day of Resurrection having wronged this one and reviled that one…” What is the ruling on one who repents but he cannot restore people’s rights because he is poor?.
Praise be to Allaah.
The basic principle with regard to people’s rights among themselves is that it is based on setting things straight with them. It is not waived just because one repents, rather rights must be restored to people or the person must ask them to let him off. If a person repents sincerely to Allaah from having transgressed people’s rights and he is unable to restore them to them because he is too poor or because he does not know who or where they are, then Allaah will accept his repentance and make them let him off on the Day of Resurrection by compensating them with whatever He wills. But if he is able to restore their rights to them in this world or ask for their pardon, then he must do that, and his repentance is not complete otherwise, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And all of you beg Allaah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful”
“So keep your duty to Allaah and fear Him as much as you can”
And Allaah is the Source of strength; may Allaah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions. End quote.
Standing Committee for Academic Research and Issuing Fatwas