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1. "When you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, write it down and let him who owes the debt dictate" (2:282).

2. "And if you are upon a journey and you do not find a scribe, then a security may be taken into possession" (2:283).

3. "Allāh has allowed trading and forbidden usury" (2:275).

4. "And if the debtor is in straitness, then let there be postponement until he is in ease; and if you remit it as alms it is better for you, if you knew" (2:280).

Lending and borrowing are a necessary condition in human transactions, and the rules relating to them are laid down in the Holy Qur'ān. Every such transaction should be written down, and the writing should be dictated by the person who owes the debt (v. 1). This latter direction guards against injustice being done to the debtor. Mortgaging of property is also allowed (v. 2). but the apparent condition of being on a journey or there being no scribe is simply a statement of the difficulties under which it becomes a necessity. The carrying on of a trade and drawing profit therefrom is placed on a different footing from lending money on interest, the first being the fruit of labour while the latter leads to ease and inordinate love of wealth (v. 3). A debtor in straitened circumstances must be dealt with leniently, and if he is unable to pay, the debt should be remitted (v. 4).

Contracting debts was discouraged. and in his prayers the Holy Prophet sought refuge from being in debt as well as sin (h. 1). When a bier was brought to him and he was told that the dead one had died in debt and had left nothing for payment thereof. he refused to conduct the service personally until someone undertook the payment of his debt (h. 2). Contracting a debt when a man did not intend to pay it is denounced (h. 3). and the Holy Prophet's anxiety to pay his debts is shown in h. 4. Granting respite to a debtor and the remission of debt when the debtor is in straitened circumstances is recommended (H. xxii:5). Payment in excess of the actual sum which a person owes is not interest; on the other hand, it is considered goodness (h. 5). Deferring payment by one who

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has the means is condemned as unjust (h. 6). and may even be punished (h. 7). The Muslim state is required to pay the debts of those who contract debts due to need; it must even maintain uncared-for families (h. 8). Mortgaging of property as security for payment of debt is allowed. and the mortgagee is allowed to derive benefit from it (h. 9, 10). The case of insolvency is dealt with in hh. 11, 12. Usury, even interest, is forbidden, but it is prophesied that a time would come when people generally would be involved in it (hh. 13-15).

1 'Ā'ishah said,

The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, used to pray, while saying prayers, and to say:

"O Allāh! I seek refuge in Thee from sin and from being in debt."

Someone asked him, How often dost thou, O Messenger of Allāh! seek refuge from being in debt. He said:

"When a man is in debt he speaks and tells lies, and he promises and breaks the promise."

(B. 43:10.)

2 Salamah reported:

A bier was brought to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, that he may say funeral

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prayers over it. He said "Was he in debt?" They said, No. So he said prayers over it. Another bier was brought to him and he said: "Was he in debt?" They said, Yes. He said "Say prayers over your companion." Abu Qatādah said, I will pay his debt, O Messenger of Allāh! So he said funeral prayers over it.1

(B. 39:3.)

3 Abū Hurairah reported,

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

"Whoever contracts a debt intending to repay it, Allāh will pay it on his behalf,2 and whoever

1 The Holy Prophet did not forbid the saying of funeral prayers over the bier of a person who was in debt. By refusing to say prayers himself, he wanted only to discourage the habit of contracting debts when one had not the means to pay. According to another version of the same hadīth (B. 38:3), the Holy Prophet said funeral prayers over a person who was in debt but who had left property from which the debt could be paid. As shown further on (h. 8). the Holy Prophet himself undertook the payment of the debts of those who died in debt later on, when the state treasury had the means to pay them.

2. The significance is that Allāh grants him the means to pay it.

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contracts a debt intending to waste it, Allāh will bring him to ruin."

(B. 43:2.)

4 Abū Dharr said, I was with the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him. When he saw (the mount) Uhud, he said:

'I do not like that this (mountain) should be turned into gold for me, then there should remain with me one dīnār out of it beyond three days, except a dīnār which I should keep for payment of a debt."

Then he said:

"The wealthier are the poorer except he who gives away wealth thus and thus, and they are very few."3

(B. 43:3.)

5 Jābir said,

I came to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, while he was in the mosque; so he said:

3. To get more and more wealth becomes a passion with wealthy people, and this passion deprives them of the noblest human sentiments. Hence they are said to be the poorer. The narrator, while saying thus and thus, moved his hands right and left, to show that wealth must be given away liberally if one has the good fortune to possess it.

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"Say two rak'ahs of prayer." And he owed me a debt; so he paid it to me and gave me more (than was due).4

(B. 43:7.)

6 Abū Hurairah said,

The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

"Delaying the payment of debt by a well-to-do person is injustice."

(B. 43:12.)

7 The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, is reported to have said:

"Deferring payment by one who has the means to pay legalizes his punishment and his honour."5

(B. 43:11)

8 Abū Hurairah reported,

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

"Whoever leaves property, it is for his heirs and whoever leaves a burden, it shall be our charge."6

(B. 43:11.)

4. Thus, if the debtor of his own free will gives more than what is due, it is not usury or interest.

5. The legalization of 'irdz (honour) is the using of harsh words, and that of 'uqūbah (punishment) is imprisonment (B. 43:13). Thus it is only the rich man who can be sent to prison for refusing to pay his debt; regarding the man in straitened circumstances, the law of Islām is that recommended in H. xxii:5--the debt should be remitted.

6. Kall (burden) includes both a family to maintain and debts to be paid. It is thus the Muslim state that is required to undertake both the maintenance of uncared-for families and the payment of unpaid debts.

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9 'Ā'ishah said, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, bough food from a Jew for payment to be made at an appointed time, and he mortgaged for it a coat-of-mail made of iron.

(B. 43:l.)

10 Abū Hurairah said:

The Messenger' of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

"The mortgaged animal may be used for riding, when it is mortgaged, on account of what is spent on it, and the milk of a milch animal may be drunk when it is mortgaged, and the expenditure shall be borne by him who rides (the animal) and drinks (the milk)."7

(B. 48:4.)

7. Hh. 9 and 10 show that the law relating to mortgage as laid down in the Holy Qur'ān (v. 2) is not limited to cases when one is journeying or when there is no scribe. The law is a general one, the only limitation being chat the property mortgaged shall be in the possession of the mortgagee. This hadīth shows that when a person has to spend money on the. thing mortgaged, he is entitled to derive benefit from it. Hence a house or land can be mortgaged subject to the condition that the possession shall be made over to the mortgagee who is entitled to live in the house or let it on hire, if he carries out the repairs, and to till the land and have the produce of it if he spends on it.

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11 Abū Hurairah-said, The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

"Whoever finds his property itself with a man who has become insolvent, he has a greater right to it than others."

(B. 43:14)

12 Sa'īd ibn al-Musayyib said,

'Uthmān decided that whoever takes his due before a man becomes insolvent, it is his, and whoever recognises his property itself with an insolvent has a greater right to it.8

(B. 43:14.)

13 'Ā'ishah said.

When the verses of the chapter al-Baqarah, relating to usury, were revealed, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, went forth to

8. The rules laid down in hh. 11, 12 are subject to the condition that there is no collusion.

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the mosque and recited them to the people, then he forbade trading in intoxicating liquors.9

(B. 8:73.)

14 Jābir reported,

The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, cursed the usurer and the man who pays usury and the writer of the transaction and the two witnesses thereof and he said:

"They are alike."10

(M-Msh. 12:4.)

15 Abū Hurairah reported,

The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

"A time will come over people when not a single person will remain who does not swallow down

9. Parts of the verses referred to here are quoted in the heading of this chapter (vv. 3, 4). In v, 3. it is stated that Allāh has allowed trade and forbidden usury, but as intoxicants were prohibited to Muslims, the Holy Prophet made it clear, when reciting this verse, that trade in intoxicants was also prohibited.

10. The Arabic word which is here translated as usury is ribā (an excess or addition), and means an addition over and above the principal sum that is lent (LL), and thus includes both usury and interest. The Holy Qur'ān compares the devourers of usury to those whom the Devil has prostrated by his touch (2:275), p. 324 indicating that usury leads to selfishness of the worst type. Islām aims at a co-operative system of trade and banking so that the capitalist should share the profit as well as the loss of the borrower. The underlying idea in the prohibition of interest on money is that labour is a higher asset than money.

The hadīth quoted here condemns the payer of the usury and the scribe and the witnesses along with the usurer, because they abet the crime.

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usury, and if one does not swallow it, its vapour will overtake him."11

(AD-Msh. 12:4.)

11. This is a prophecy relating to the present time. Material civilization has at its culmination brought about a state of things when no transaction can be carried on without payment of interest.

Next: Chapter XXVI: Gifts (Hibah and Waqf)