At the age of 21 i got involved into my family business and started helping my father in running the day to day business and making policy decisions. When i started the business was already suffering from debt. This debt was in form of suppliers material and banks riba based loans. I did not understand the depth of riba prohibition at that time. However when i did understood the prohibition i stressed upon working without riba. However my efforts were futile and we had to borrow more in order to repay the previous loan. I discussed my uneasiness with my father about the prohbition in islam to deal with riba, and he was of the view that as soon as we earn enough we will pay off our loans to the people and the banks. However that day was not to come and business was shut down. This happened over a period of ten years during which i was directly involved with the business for 5 years.
Hence, we owe money to the banks and also to approximately 20 people. Among those 20 people are some rich and some very weak suppliers whose businesses were closed because their money was stuck into our business and we are unable to pay.
Hence my first question is 'am i responsible for the debt' keeping in view that i was not fully in control of the business nor the policy setting. Was i reponsible for dealing with riba, even though i wanted to avoid it but could not since i could not walk away from my father and let him deal with the problem himself.
My second question is in regards to zakaat. I have a car for personal use and have negative bank balance and live pay cheque to pay cheque. Now, I am the only earning member for my family including my parents. However my wife has gold most of which was given to her by her parents and some of it was given to her by my parents. That gold is not enough to pay off the debt that me and my family has. Hence my question is do i need to pay zakaah on it. If yes then can i pay off the debt with the zakat, keeping in view that i will have to borrow money in order pay zakaah.
Similarly my mother has a bit of gold. Shall my father pay zakaah on it, keeping in view my father has little cash and i will pay the zakaah that he owes. The amount of total zakaah will be my 3 weeks salary approximately.
What is the islamic ruling under the circumstances mentioned above. Sheikh i truly appreciate your help.