Jurisprudence for Muslim Minorities

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  • Jurisprudence for Muslim Minorities



    Business Transactions

            Islam is a religion that deals with all aspects of life through its legislation. So, it has clearly set the relationship between man and his Creator and between the community members with one another as individuals and groups.
             As man cannot put up with seclusion, and cannot manage his worldly affairs but through exchanging benefits with other people, the ordinance laid down rules that control the dealings between people, and base them on the principles of “right” and “justice” without causing them any restriction or distress. 
        The First Issue: Texts that Define Business Transactions with Non-Muslims
            Business transactions mean the Sharî'ah legislative rules relating to worldly affairs that manipulate and maintain them, such as selling, buying, renting, letting, etc.
            There are texts and rules that allow dealing with non-Muslims. The Qur'ân says, “ And of the population of the Book is he who, in case you put in his custody a hundred weight (i.e. cantar), will pay it back to you; and of them is he who, if you put in his custody one dînâr, will not pay it back to you, except as long as you are upright over him. That (is) because they said, 'There is no way over us as to the common folk'. And they speak lies against Allah, and they know (that).” ('Ali-'Imrân: 75)
            'Aishah (m.A.b.s.w.h.) reported that the Prophet (p.b.u.h) bought food on credit from a Jew and gave him his armor as a mortgage. It has been proven also that he bought a commodity from a Jew for a deferred payment.
            Also 'Abdur-Rahmân Ibn `Abî Bakr (m.A.b.s.w.h.) said, “We were with the Prophet (p.b.u.h), and a non-Muslim man came with some sheep, and the Prophet (p.b.u.h) bought one from him.” Also, the Prophet's Companion 'Abdur-Rahmân Ibn ‘Awf (m.A.b.s.w.h.) said, “I concluded an agreement with Umayyah Ibn Khalaf that he looks after my family and riches in Makkah, and I look after his family and riches in Al-Madînah.” 
            Also, “Muslims are unanimous on that the dealings with non-Muslims in lawful commodities is permitted.”
            Among the scholars' sayings in this respect: 
            “Therefore, the Muslim has been competent to deal with non-Muslims in matters other than worship, because he is capable of doing them. This is because the ultimate goals of such dealings is worldly interests, in which they surpass Muslims, since they have preferred this life to the Hereafter.” 
            Ibn Bitâl said, “It is permissible to deal with non-Muslims, except for selling them that which makes them overpower Muslims.” 
            Ibn Hajar also said, “ It is permissible to deal with non-Muslims, except in matters prohibited by ordinance, regardless of their creed and their dealings with one another.”

            So, the Verses, Hadîths, and scholars' sayings, in general, prove the permissibility of dealing with People of the Book and infidels.

        The Second Issue: Questions Relating to Business Transactions

        The First Question: The Ruling on Usurious Dealings in Non-Muslim Countries

            Scholars agreed that usury is prohibited, be it little or much, in Muslim or non-Muslim countries, among Muslims, or  between Muslims and non-Muslims. This is the opinion of Mâlik, Ash-Shâfi´î, 'Ahmad, Al-Awzâ’´î, Abu-Yûsuf, and others, and the preponderant opinion of the Hanbalites.

            Their evidence is:

            1- texts ordaining the prohibition of usury, which have not confined the prohibition to a place or time, but made it general and absolute. Among them is Allah's saying: “And Allah made selling lawful, and has prohibited usury.” (Al-Baqarah: 275), and “And leave behind what remains of usury in case you be believers.” (Al-Baqarah: 278). And among them is the Prophet's saying, “Keep away from the seven destructive (deeds), among which he mentioned usury.

    All these texts indicate that usury is prohibited in general, without giving details or making restrictions.

            2- what is prohibited in Muslim countries is prohibited in non-Muslim countries, such as usury among Muslims and all other wrongdoing.

            3- by analogy to non-Muslims who lawfully enter our country, since scholars have agreed that usurious dealings with them are prohibited. Similarly, if a Muslim entered a non-Muslim country, the same rule applies. 

            Ash-Shâfi´î said, “Living in a non-Muslim country does not exempt any Muslim from performing any duty, be it praying or fasting.” and said, “What is prohibited in Muslim countries is prohibited in non-Muslim countries.”
            Ash-Shawkânî also said, “Rulings are incumbent on Muslims wherever they are, and being in a non-Muslim country does not nullify the Sharî'ah rulings.”
       The Second Question: May a Muslim be Hired by a Non-Muslim to do What We deem Unlawful?
           The example of this question is that a Muslim gets hired by a non-Muslim for building a place of worship for associators, or for carrying a forbidden thing such as wine, dead meat, swine, or for selling it, or work for him in usurious dealings, or in factories that produce forbidden products.
            Scholars maintain that it is forbidden for a Muslim to work for a non-Muslim in such domains. Al-Imâm Mâlik was asked about a Muslim who gets hired by a non-Muslim for carrying wine for him; he said that this is forbidden, and the Muslim is not entitled to get a wage for such work. Al-Imâm 'Ahmad reports the latter point. In his book Al-Mudawwanah, Ibn Al-Qâsim said about a Muslim who takes care of a non-Muslim's pigs, that the wage should be taken from the non-Muslim to discipline him and be given to the poor, and the Muslim should not be given the wage, but should be disciplined by beating for doing such work.
            'Imâm 'Ahmad was asked: Is it allowed for a Muslim to build a Fireplace for Magians? He said: No. Al-'Amidî is of the same opinion. But Ash-Shâfi´î disliked it. Similar to this is building a church or any other place of worship for non-Muslims.
            Working in usurious dealings is prohibited, pursuing the Hadîth related by Jâbir:“Allah's Messenger cursed the eater of usury, the one who helps eating it, and the writer and witnesses of its contract”, and said, “ They are all alike”.
            An-Nawawî said, “This denotes explicitly that writing and witnessing a contract of usury is prohibited”. The Hadîth also denotes prohibiting helping people in wrongdoing whatever it might be.
            The denotation is general and absolute, making no distinction between Muslim and non-Muslim countries.
            For all of this presentation, we conclude that it is prohibited to Muslims to build a place of infidelity for non-Muslims, or sell, on their behalf, wine, pigs, or any other prohibited commodity.
            But in case one had to do it, it would be permitted, but within the limits of the rule that “necessities vary as to peoples' capacities and situations”. So, one should not exceed the limits, but should be satisfied with the minimum needs, and do his best to get out of this situation.
            The Juristic Committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference issued the legal pronouncement that working in restaurants that offer wine and swine, without necessity, or designing places of worship for non-Muslims, or contributing to them, is prohibited.
            However, it is allowed to work in such restaurants in case of necessity, provided that the Muslim does not cater for wine, carry it, make it, or trade in it by himself. The same applies to catering for swine and other prohibited items.

            So, a Muslim is allowed to be hired by a non-Muslim under conditions, among which are:

            1- the work should be lawful;

            2- it should not help him inflict harm on Muslims;

            3- and it should not be shameful or humiliating.

         The Third Question: The Rulings for Taking Loans and Borrowing from Them.

         First: Taking Loans From Them.
            Al-Bukhârî and others reported that Jâbir Ibn 'Abdullah’s father when died he was indebted to a Jew for about 4500k.g. So, Jâbir asked the Jew to give him some time to repay the debt, but the Jew refused. So, Jâbir asked Allah's Messenger to ask the Jew to give him some time .
            So, the fact that the Prophet (p.b.u.h) has not forbidden taking loans from non-Muslims indicates that it is allowed to take loans from them.
            ( But it should be pointed out that in case taking loans from them, or imploring them it is forbidden). This is because “what leads to a prohibited thing is prohibited itself”. Likewise, it is forbidden to include a forbidden condition in the contract.
         Second: Trusting and Depositing Money with Them.
            This is established by Allah's saying: “And of the population of the book is he who, in case you put in his custody a hundred weight (a cantar), will pay it back to you, and of them is he who, in case you put in his custody one dinar, will not pay it back to you. except as long as you are upright over him. That (is) because they said 'There is no way over us as to the common folk. And they speak lies against Allah, and they know (that)”.('Ali-´Imrân: 75)
            Ash-Shawkânî said that the meaning of this verse is that the people of the Book include honest people who pay back what they were given as a deposit, whatever much it may be, and dishonest people who do not pay back the deposits they were given whatever little it may be. An honest person as regards much is all the more so as regards little, and a dishonest person as regards little is all the more as regards much.
            In his talk about the Prophet (p.b.u.h) hiring a non-Muslim from Banî-Ad-Dayl to guide him on the day of Hijrah (migration), Barduddîn Al-‘Aynî said, “This implies entrusting non-Muslims with secrets and money, in case they were known for honesty and honor, as did the Prophet (p.b.u.h) when he hired this associator.”
            It is axiomatic in the Sharî´ah manners that “in case a Muslim needed to entrust a non-Muslim, he is allowed to do so.”
         Third: Borrowing from Them
            Borrowing means to give something to somebody to benefit from it, provided that he returns the very thing to you. 'Abû Dâwûd and others reported that the Prophet (p.b.u.h) borrowed an armor from Safwân on the day of the battle of Hunayn, so, Safwân asked: Are you taking it by force, Muhammad? He replied: No, it is a guaranteed deposit”
            This incident indicates that it is allowed to borrow from non-Muslims, since it is a contract, and Islam is not a condition for the validity of contracts, and transactions are generally allowed, except for cases, that are prohibited by evidence, which is lacking in this case. Such dealings do not involve supremacy of non-Muslims over Muslims, but they are like selling and buying, etc.


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