In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 283
Ayah 282 was about recording financial transactions in case of deferred payments, in this ayah we learn another important principle – what to do when no scribe is available or the written contract is not sufficient for the lender.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
The word farihanun [فَرِهَانٌ] is from the root ra-ha-noon and it means, “to give in pledge.” The word maqbudatun [مَّقْبُوضَةٌ] is from the root qaf-ba-dad and it means, “take with hand, collect or take possession.”
If someone is traveling and they have borrowed money to be paid on a later date but cannot find a scribe to write it down (or do not have ink, pen and paper, as per Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu) then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala instructs them to mortgage something to the creditor.
In the Saheehain it has been recorded that Anas ibn Maalik radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam died while his shield was mortgaged with a Jew. He had mortgaged his shield in return for thirty wasq [approximately 180 kg] of barley which the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had bought on credit as provisions for his household.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “…then if one of you entrusts another, then let him who is entrusted discharge his trust (faithfully).”
The word falyuaddi [فَلْيُؤَدِّ] is from the root hamza-dal-ya and it means “fulfill, pay or discharge.”
Ibn Abi Hatim recorded, with a sound chain of narration, that Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that this ayah abrogated what came before it (i.e. that which required recording the transaction and having witnesses present). Ash-Sha’bi said, “If you trust each other, then there is no harm if you do not write the loan or have witnesses present.” However, the scholars suggest that writing down is still better in order to avoid misunderstandings and arguments in the future.
The word utumina [اؤْتُمِنَ] is from the root hamza-meem-noon and it means “to become or feel secure, to trust.”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds the debtor to fear Him and be trustworthy. Imam Ahmad and the Sunan recorded that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The hand (of the debtor) will carry the burden of what it took until it gives it back.” Ibn ‘Abbas said, “False testimony is one of the worst of the major sins, and such is the case with hiding the true testimony.” This is why Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said, “For he who hides it, surely, his heart is sinful.” Hiding evidence or giving false testimony is one of the diseases of the heart.
In another ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commands the believers to stand out firmly for justice even if it be against their own parents and kin. He says,
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ ۚ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًا فَاللَّهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا ۖ فَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا الْهَوَىٰ أَن تَعْدِلُوا ۚ وَإِن تَلْوُوا أَوْ تُعْرِضُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” [An-Nisa 4: 135]
In this ayah, we learn two things:
In cases involving a credit deal, it is permissible for a person to keep something as a mortgage to secure his debt. But the Qur’anic word مَّقْبُوضَةٌ [taken in possession] indicates that deriving any benefit out of the thing mortgaged is not permissible for him. The only right the mortgagee has is to keep the thing in his possession until the debt is cleared. Any benefit that accrues from it or any loss endured is of the original owner.
For example, a person has mortgaged a house in lieu of a loan. The creditor has no right to move into the mortgaged house or claim its belongings to be his. If the creditor does so then he will be earning Riba over the loan which is impermissible. Consider another scenario where a cow has been mortgaged. In such a case, if the creditor feeds the cow and looks after its needs then he has the right to benefit from its milk because he is spending his money on it. He, however, cannot sell the cow. If the cow gives birth to a calf then the calf is to be returned to the original owner and the creditor cannot own it.
We also learn that a person who knows the truth about a disputed matter should not withhold his testimony. If he does so, then he is a sinner. The heart of such a person is diseased because it did not encourage him to do good. We learn that the decisions are first made in the heart, and then a person takes action.
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