Saturday 13th of August 2022
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A person dies without repenting for his sins

The twenty-third sin which is certainly a Greater one is stealing or thievery. Imam Reza (a.s.) has included stealing among the Greater sins according to the tradition reported by Fazl Ibne Shazaan. Amash says that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has related from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said, 
"A believer cannot commit fornication and a believer cannot steal."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Thus one who fornicates or steals is not a believer. Such a person is devoid of faith. Such a person lacks belief in Allah and the Day of Judgement. If such a person dies without repenting for his sins, he does not die a believer. Some of the ayats and traditions that are critical of Khayanat also include stealing. Stealing is absolutely haraam even if it is for a worthless object. To steal even a needle is haraam. However, the hands of a thief are cut only, if in addition to all the necessary conditions the value of the stolen goods exceeds a quarter misqal of gold.

Muhammad Ibne Muslim says that he inquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"What is the
 minimum amount, stealing of which can make one liable to have his hands amputed?"

Imam (a.s.) replied, "A quarter of a dinar."
"And on stealing two dirhams?"

"Even if it is a dirham more than a quarter of a Dinar. In all cases the hands are severed."

Muhammad Ibne Muslim further asked, "Then if one steals less than a quarter of a dinar, is he called a thief?"

Imam (a.s.) told him, 
"Every such person is a thief in the eyes of Allah who steals the property of the Muslims and keeps it for himself." (That is, Allah will punish him with the punishment that is reserved for all those who steal.)

"But (in this world) his hands are not cut off. However if he steals a quarter dinar or more his hands are severed. If the hands of those who steal less than a quarter dinar were also to be cut then we would find most of the people with their hands severed."

Punishment for theft

The Almighty Allah says in Surah Maidah:
"And (as for) the man who steals and the woman who steals, cut off their hands as a punishment for what they have earned, an exemplary punishment from Allah, and Allah is Mighty. Wise.

But whoever repents after his inequity and reforms (himself), then surely Allah will turn to him (mercifully), surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Maidah 5:38-39)

The book Burhanul Quran mentions on page 170:
"The opponents of Islam have raised objection against the penal code of Islam. They label such penalties to be primitive and inhuman and not acceptable in the twentieth
 century. The criticism is especially severe with regard to the punishment of theft and fornication. They trump up their arguments saying that such crimes are a result of psychological disorders and moral and psychological counselling can reform criminals. We admit that moral advice is one of the ways of reforming individuals. Certainly, moral lessons have a profound effect in guiding a society in the right direction. We also do not reject the fact that most of the crimes are due to psychological and moral ills.

Islam has not overlooked moral training as a factor in the development of character but Islam also believes that inspite of such training if the individual is inclined towards crime he should be punished adequately. A breakdown in discipline and order begins if you ignore crime, eventually leading to a corrupt society.

In non-Muslim countries also the criminals are not let off with a sermon on moral values. Criminals are imprisoned and accorded various punishments. We do not deny the fact that poverty causes many a crime to be commited. We agree that destitution sometimes makes a man lose his sense of moral values and he is more inclined to Khayanat and stealing when he is in difficult economic conditions. But we cannot accept that poverty and destitution are the sole causes of crime. We see quite a few people who inspite of their straitened circumstances are not at all inclined towards injustice and crime and prove their integrity by fulfilling their obligations with sincerity. On the other hand crimes and perversity are prevalent in affluent countries and also in communist countries which claim to have eradicated inequality.

Those who are critical of Islam to be primitive and inhuman are unable to assess their own selves. Those who proclaim independence and human rights overlook their own crimes. Forty thousand people were butchered in North Africa just because they were protesting for their basic rights. Is this nor barbaric?

The newspaper Kahyan of 14th April 1960 reports: The valiant people of Algeria have struggled for six years against the tyrannical rule of France over their country. To date, around one million people from the total population of ten million have laid down their lives in this struggle.

Coming back to our discussion we would like to point out that Islam has taken in to consideration all aspects of crimes and punishment. Islam does lays down heavy penalties for crimes committed but Islamic law takes into account, the circumstances under which the crime is committed. A person who steals due to hunger and poverty is not liable to have his hands cut off, nor is a person who has been coerced into stealing, punished. Also Islamic laws are not applicable in non-Muslim countries. So the objections raised are baseless.

As far as barbarism (of which Islam is accused) is concerned, the progressive countries in the Second World War alone killed and maimed a million people. The dropping of the atom bomb caused untold miseries of devastation, death and diseases plagued millions of people and the horrible effect of these continue to this day. It has come to light in recent times that the dropping of the atom bomb was entirely unneccessary. It was for an experiment. An experiment conducted at the cost of human life and human masses. Compared to this shocking perversity and savageness the fact that corporeal punishment in Islam is given in only limited cases.

Besides Islam prescribes rules and regulations which if followed faithfully not only improve morals, but eliminate poverty and enhance economic development of the society as a whole, thus eliminates the very cause of these crimes.

It is the duty of the Islamic government to provide every citizen with suitable employment. If some people still remain unemployed they are to be paid a stipend from the public treasury till they can secure a job. Under these conditions there is no need for anyone to steal. Inspite of this if someone steals, then surely he deserves to be punished.

It is a fallacy to think that these prescribed punishments are only meant for old times when people were savage and incapable of being controlled by any other means and that in the modern age people are receptive and suggestive and can be reformed without punishment. It is a foolish argument. If this argument had any substance we would not be witnessing such an awsome crime rate in the "cultured" atmosphere of the developed countries.

It is obvious that the Quranic ayat quoted earlier does not give any details regarding the robbery or the punishment. These details have been elaborated in numerous traditions that have come down to us from our Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)

Conditions when corporeal punishment is accorded

It should be mentioned here that as far as Shia faith is concerned amputing of hand implies cutting four fingers of the right hand. The palm and the thumb are left untouched.

Before amputing the hands of the thief the following conditions must be fulfilled. Even if one of them is absent, the punishment is not carried out:
1. The thief must be an adult. The signs of adulthood according to Shariat are the completion of fifteen lunar years for a boy and nine lunar years for a girl. Another sign of maturity is the growth of pubic hair. The third sign is the ejaculation of semen in boys and the beginning of the menstrual cycle in the girl. Even if one of these signs are present the concerned person is an adult. So if the thief is not an adult his hands cannot be amputed. At the most the judge releases him after issuing a stern warning so that he may not dare to repeat this act.

Abdullah Ibne Sinan relates the following tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"When a minor child steals for the first and the second time he is forgiven. If he does it for the third time he is issued a strict warning and beating. If he persists in his crime, the tips of his fingers are slightly cut and if he repeats the act, some more of his fingers are cut away."

2. The thief must be sane. So if an insane person robs, his hand is not amputed. He may be suitably warned and scolded.

3. The thief must not have resorted to stealing under duress, if he had been compelled to do so, the penal code is not applied.

4. The stolen thing must be something that is worth owning. Hence, if ones freedom is restricted it cannot be called a theft.

5. The value of the stolen object must not be less than one-fourth misqal of pure gold. One misqal is equal to eighteen grams. One-fourth misqal is four-and-a-half gram.

6. The son or the slave of the thief must not own the thing that is stolen. So if a father steals from his son, he is not punished. On the contrary if a son or a daughter steals from the father or mother their hands are amputed. The same rule applies to the master and the slave. If the master robs his slave he is not punished. On the other hand, there exists a difference of opinion on the matter of whether the slave who steals from his master is to be accorded the punishment of theft or not. Some Mujtahids are of the opinion that if a servant steals from his office or employer, he should not be given the full penalty. Other Mujtahids have issued a decree that there is no difference between a servant, a workman and other people. They shall be deserving of the penalty. There is also a difference of opinion with regard to the theft committed by a guest from his host. The most prevalent verdict is that the guest must be punished.

7. Eatables stolen during the times of famine do not make the thief liable for having his hands cut. It is narrated from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said:
"In the time of famine and draught the hands of a thief are not cut off for stealing edible items like bread and meat etc."

8. If a soldier participates in a raid and steals from the plundered goods obtained in war before they are distributed, he is exempted from the punishment.

9. If one of the parties to a transaction steals a property and claims that it rightfully belongs to him, he is not liable to be punished.

10. If a person is accused of theft, but before his theft is proved to the judge, he pays the owner the value of the goods, he is not penalised. Similarly, if a son steals from his father but before the verdict is issued the father dies, the son is not punished, as stolen goods now comprise his inheritance.

11. If the use of the stolen things is haraam (e.g. wine or pork), there is no penal action against the robber.

12. If the thief claims that he had not taken a particular thing with the intention of stealing it, and the judge considers otherwise, there shall be no punishment for it.

13. The object should have been stolen from a place where the owner's permission is required to enter. If a theft takes place in a public mosque or public bath, the thief does not have his hand amputed.

14. The thing should have been stolen from a secure place. If something is not kept in a safe place and left open, the theft of it does not incur punishment. Hence valuables should be kept under lock and key. The fruits should not have been stolen from the trees. They should have been already picked and stored in the orchard. The four-footed animals have to be stolen from the stables. Wares have to be stolen from inside the shop. The pocket that is picked must be an inside one and not the one that hangs outward. Money should be stolen from a safe etc. The shroud should have been stolen from the grave.

15. The thief must himself take away the stolen goods from their proper place. If one takes out the thing from its safe place and another one takes it away, neither of the two can be punished for theft. Because, the one who has taken out the thing from its safe place has not stolen it and the one who has stolen it has not done so from its place of safety. We have already mentioned that one who steals something from other than its proper place is not given the punishment of theft. Only that thief is punished who removes the thing from its proper place and also takes it away. If more than one person are involved in stealing something from its proper place and taking it away, then the value of the stolen property is divided by the number of people involved. If the share of each person is more than one-fourth misqal all their hands are amputed but if their individual shares are less than this then none of them are punished in this manner.

If a thief removes the stolen object and loads it on his animal, or gives it to an insane man or a minor child for taking it away, he is penalised. This is because the animal, the insane person and the child are mere carriers of the goods.

16. Severing of the hand is a punishment for theft. Theft implies that someone takes away something without the knowledge of others who later realise that the thing is missing. Hence if a person forcibly loots some goods from its owner, he is not punished for theft. He is beaten up and issued a warning, so that he may not repeat the act. However if the goods are looted using a weapon, the punishment is equal to that of being at war against the Muslims. (This punishment is described in the thirty-third ayat of Surah Maidah. Either the criminal is killed or crucified, the left and the right foot is amputed, or he is to be exiled; the judge can award one of these punishments.)

17. If before a theft can be proved, the thief goes to the judge and repents and promises not to steal in future he is saved from the punishment. Once the theft has been proved, repentance is of no consequence and punishment will be implemented.

18. For a theft to be proved, two just witnesses should have seen the thief stealing. It may also be that there is just one witness but the owner also testifies that robbery has taken place. The thief may himself confess twice of his theft and deserve to be penalised. If he confesses only once, the stolen goods are taken away from him and restored to the owner. He is not punished for theft.

19. If the owner takes back his goods or allows the thief to keep them before the matter is reported to the Qazi and does not press for a penalty, the thief is not punished. However if the crime is proved before the judge even the owner cannot save the thief from punishment.

Some Mujtahids believe that if two just people have not witnessed the theft and it is only proved by two confessions of the thief, the judge has the prerogative to condone him. It is mentioned in the book Tahzeeb that a person came to Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) and confessed of having stolen something. Hazrat Ali (a.s.) asked him, 
"Can you recite some portions of the Quran?"
He said, "Yes, Surah Baqarah."

Ali (a.s.) said, 
"I have respited your hand in exchange of Surah Baqarah."

Ashath said, "O Ali (a.s.)! Have you overlooked the Divine penalty?"

Ali (a.s.) replied, 
"What do you know? Awarding the penalty is only necessary when two just witnesses have testified. But if the crime is confessed by the thief himself, the Imam can condone him."

If the crime satisfies the above conditions, the amputing of the hands could only be carried out by the just ruler or judge. No other person is qualified to award the penalty or carry out the punishment. The Qazi is responsible for recovering the stolen goods and restoring them to the owner. If the goods are used up or lost, the thief has to make good the loss. The order for the returning of stolen goods is the same, whether the theft is proved according to Shariat or not. If a thing belonging to someone else is taken, it has to be returned.

In some cases the theft is not proved but the Qazi issues a warning for taking the property belonging to someone else. The Qazi may scold or beat the person so that he may not repeat the act. The extent of scolding and beating is also left to the discretion of the judge. In cases where the goods are stolen from an unsafe place, or a bandit has looted the goods, or a forgerer has forged a signature and wrongfully acquired someone's money, the property is restored to the owner and the accused is scolded and beaten. In the same way if someone digs up the grave containing a corpse, but does not steal the shroud, he is also scolded and beaten up. Even if he steals the shroud but its value is less than one-fourth misqal of gold he is similarly beaten up and scolded.

Protection of property and honour

If the thief is seen stealing, he becomes a bandit. The owner can, with the intention of protecting his property fight with him. If the thief dies, his killing is condoned and no blood money is payable. Similarly the attacker can be killed in defence of ones life and honour. But the real aim has to be for defence, and if defence is possible without killing, then killing is haraam. Only the least aggressive measures necessary for defence are permitted.

The Islamic laws with regard to theft are numerous and there is a difference of opinion among the Mujtahids upon many of the points. Keeping in mind the scope of this book, we feel the discussion we have had should suffice.

How is the punishment awarded?

After the crime is proved the judge cuts off the four fingers of the right hand. He leaves the thumb and the palm untouched. The penalty is the same if the thief is convicted of multiple thefts and has not been punished before. If a thief has already had his four fingers cut and he steals again and the theft is proved, his left foot is cut from the front. The heel is left so that he can walk. If he steals for a third time and again the theft is proved the robber is captive for life. If he steals in the prison too, he is put to death.

The hand which is supposed to be lifted up for prayers, the hand which expresses the submission to Allah, the hand which must be used to solve the difficulties of people, to help the oppressed and the orphans, to attack the enemies of faith, if the same hand is used to steal the property of the Muslim brothers and it is proved with all its necessary conditions, then there is no way except to dismember it. Society is rendered safe due to this measure.

Diyat (penalty)

If someone's hand is amputed without any fault of his, the one who cuts the hand is made to pay five hundred misqal of gold to the victim. Whereas if someone robs one fourth of a misqal of gold his hand is amputed. It appears that one who steals a fourth of a misqal of gold is worse than the one who cuts off the hand of an innocent person. Such is the value of trust in Islam.


The twenty-fourth Greater Sin is short weighing or cheating in business. This is recorded in the Holy Quran and the tradition of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as related by Amash and the tradition of Imam Reza (a.s.) as reported by Fazl Ibne Shazaan. Imam (a.s.) says: "Decreasing (fraudulently) in measure and weight." (is also a Greater Sin). It is haraam for a seller to give less than the specified quantity or for the debtor to repay less than what is specified.

A terrible punishment awaits the doer of this grievous sin, according to the book of Allah. A complete chapter of the Holy Quran deals with this topic. It says: 
"Woe to the
 defrauders. Who, when they take the measure (of their dues) from men, take it fully, but when they measure out to others or weigh out for them, they are deficient. Do not think that they shall be raised again, for a mighty day, The day on which men shall stand before the Lord of the worlds?" 
(Surah Mutaffefeen 83:1-6)

Deed in Sijjin

"Nay! Most surely the record of the wicked is in the sijjin. And what will make you know what the sijjin is? It is a written book." 
(Surah Mutaffefeen 83:7-9)

Sijjin is either the name of that register which contains the account of deeds of disbelievers and transgressors. Or it is a special corner of Hell where the disbelievers and sinners will be consigned. Hence the translation of the ayats will be as follows:
"They should be fearful for it is written down that the transgressors will go to sijjin. And what can explain to you what sijjin is? It has already been written about it (And a decision has been taken which cannot be changed)."

Hazrat Shoeb (a.s.) was preaching to his people: 
"O my people! Serve Allah, you have no god other than He, and do not give short measure and weight. Surely I see you in prosperity and surely I fear for you the punishment of an all-encompassing day. And O my people! Give full measure and weight fairly, and
 defraud not men their things, and do not act corruptly in the land, making mischief." 
(Surah Hud 11: 84-85)

A person who short-weighs is not a Momin

According to the Quranic ayats, one who resorts to short weighing and defrauding does not believe in the Day of Judgement and the Hereafter. If the person had any belief in the Hereafter, he would know that, even if he succeedes in fooling people, he would never be able to hide his fraud from the Lord of the worlds; he would realise that on the Day of Judgement he would have to account for whatever he has earned by defrauding and make good the loss.

A butcher who was an idol-worshipper used to give more than the prescribed weight. When people asked him the reason for this he pointed up towards the top of the wall and said, "I give more because of him." When people looked up they saw an idol installed there. Another idol-worshipping shopkeeper was prominent for his habit of casting a glance at the idol before he proceeded to weigh some goods.

When Hazrat Yusuf (a.s.) and Zulekha were alone in the room, Zulekha covered the idol with a cloth. Hazrat Yusuf (a.s.) asked her, 
"Why have you covered the idol?"

She said, "I feel ashamed before it!" Hazrat Yusuf (a.s.) said, 
"You feel ashamed before a lifeless idol created by men, when it has no power of understanding. How can I not feel ashamed before the Almighty Lord Who is ever present and all-seeing?"

Saying this he fled from that place and saved himself from fornication.

It is a great pity that idol worshippers are ashamed to commit sins in view of their idols, which are lifeless objects, whereas Muslims have no qualms in commiting sins before Allah (a.j.) for Whom nothing is hidden in the heaven and the earth.

Five sins and their punishments

The following tradition has been recorded from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in the book Tafseer Minhajus Saadeqeen According to this tradition there are five types of sins which bring about five types of calamities.

"When the people of a vicinity break promises and oaths, Allah makes their enemies to reign upon them.

When people order against the revealed Divine commands, poverty (certainly) is widespread.

When immorality is practised openly deadly diseases certainly increase.

When people short-weigh and short-measure then there is a decrease in agricultural output. (Decrease in livelihood) and there is less rainfall."

Advice of Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) for the businessmen

Whatever Ali (a.s.) found himself free from the administrative work, he used to go to the market place and announce, 
"O people! Fear Allah! Weigh and measure with justice. Do not cheat people (by giving less) and do not spread corruption in the earth."

One day Ali (a.s.) saw a saffron seller short-weighing. He had applied oil to his hand and very cunningly he applied it to the pan of the balance which held the saffron. Ali (a.s.) picked up the saffron from the balance and said, 
"First rectify your balance, then if you like you can give more than that."

Between mountains of fire

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says: 
"One who does Khayanat in weighing and measuring is thrown into the lowest section of Hell. There he shall be placed between two mountains of fire. He will be told to weigh those mountains. He will be busy in this forever."

The following incident is recorded in the book Tafseer Minhajus Saadeqaen:
A person by the name of Malik went to visit a friend who was sick. Malik says, "I saw him in a deplorable condition. He was screaming, 'Two
 Mountains of fire are going to crash upon me.' I told him, 'It is only an illusion!' He said, 'No, it is true! Because I have two different balances. With one of them I used to short-weigh while selling and with the other I weighed more while buying. I am punished for this so soon!'"

Short changing is also haraam

As it is haraam to short-weigh it is also haraam to short-measure like measurement of cloth or land which are sold by measure, must not be short measured. It is absolutely haraam. In the same way those items which are sold by number, like eggs or fruits; if someone sells them to a person and gives less than the specified quantity, he is counted among those who short-weigh and short-measure. Shaykh Ansari has mentioned it in his book Makasibul Muharrama.

The Seller who cheats is a debtor of the buyer

The amount of goods given less by the seller is owed to the buyer. It is obligatory to give the balance amount to the buyer. If the buyer is dead he must give it to his heirs. If he does not know the buyer he must with the permission of the Jurist pay a similar amount as sadqa on behalf of the buyer.

If the seller does not know how much less he has given, he must give him some amount that will satisfy the buyer. If the buyer is dead he must satisfy his heir. If the buyer is unknown the Mujtahid must be satisfied.

Defrauding is like selling short

It is short weighing and short measuring when the seller gives less without the knowledge of the client. The buyer does not realise that he is being given less than the stipulated quantity but it is defrauding when the seller sells some goods of an inferior quality and makes it out to be of a good quality. In this case too the buyer is unaware of being cheated.

The seller may also adulterate the goods. In this case there is no short weighing but it is haraam all the same, because it is a kind of fraud. For example a grainseller adulterates 95 kg of wheat with 5 Kg of mud and sells it as a hundred Kg of wheat; or a milkman adulterates milk by adding water. Similarly a shopkeeper sells a kilo of ghee but surreptitiously puts a quarter kilo of stone beneath the layer of ghee. A butcher commits a fraud if he adds more than a reasonable amount of bones while selling meat. Vegetable sellers increase the weight of vegetables more by pouring water over them than required. All these types of frauds are included among the sin of underweighing, even if the seller is weighing the adulterated goods accurately.

Adulteration is haraam

To mix an inferior quality of wheat with one of a good quality or to adulterate pure ghee is also haraam. Shaykh Ansari says in his book Makasibul Muharrama, "The tradition prohibiting adulteration is Mutawatir."

Shaykh Sadooq has recorded the prophetic tradition: 
"One who sells adulterated goods to Muslims is not from us. He will be raised with the Jews on the Day of Qiyamat, because an adulterater is not a Muslim."

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said, 
"One who gives us adulterated goods is not from us."

He repeated this sentence thrice then said, 
"And Allah will remove barakat from the livelihood of the Muslim brothers. (Allah) will destroy his economy and leave him upon his own condition."
(Iqaabul Aamaal)

An edifying incident is mentioned on page 309 of the book Daarus Salaam by Aqae Iraqui: The respected Aqae Abdul Husain Khawansari has related to me the following incident: "An honest perfume seller of Karbala had fallen sick. He tried the treatment of every doctor in the town but it was of no use. He spent all his property for his treatment but he was not cured. One day I went to pay him a visit. I saw him perturbed. He was instructing his son to sell off the household items. He was saying, 'Sell off everything! I do not want anything. Either I will die or be cured!' I asked him, 'What do you mean?' He sighed and answered, 'At the beginning of my career I was not so rich. During that time an epidemic fever broke out in Karbala. The doctors prescribed lime juice as its cure. Since the disease was widespread there was a great demand for limejuice. I began to adulterate limejuice by mixing yoghurt in it. I sold it at a very high rate. Gradually the stocks of limejuice with the other shopkeeper were finished. They began to direct their customers to me. Soon the stock of limejuice in my shop was also sold out. Now I began to sell only yoghurt by adding colour and a sour material to it. I sold this concoction as limejuice. My coffers became full and I continued to amass wealth. Today I find that all this property is of no use to me. My disease is incurable. So I wish to get rid of all the things that I obtained in this haraam manner, in the hope that after doing this, I may be cured.' Not much time had elapsed after this incident when the perfume seller departed from this world. He was definitely indebted to those whom he had sold the adulterated limejuice."

Hazrat Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) says: 
"One day the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was passing through the bazaar of Madinah. He (s.a.w.s.) told a wheat seller, 'Your wheat is of a good quality.' Then he put his hands inside the pile and found inferior quality of wheat below He said, 'I see that you have gathered the provisions of Khayanat and adulteration.'"
(Iqaabul Aamaal)

Allamah Hilli says that a man asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "If a person has two types of goods one is of a superior and expensive quality and the other is of inferior and cheap quality, can he mix these two and sell at a special rate?"

Imam (a.s.) replied, 
"It is not correct for him to sell the adulterated goods to Muslims. However (there is no harm) if he informs them (of the adulteration)."
(Iqaabul Aamaal)

Dawood Ibne Sujaan asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): "I had two varieties of musk. One was wet, the other dry. I sold the wet and fresh musk but no one was prepared to buy the dry one at the same rate. Is it permitted for me to make it wet so that it is sold out?" Imam (a.s.) told him, 
"It is not allowed. However if you inform the buyer that you have made it wet, it is another matter."

Giving less in the rights of Allah and Prophet (s.a.w.s.)

People have been ordered not only to refrain from defrauding each other, but they must also not cheat and defraud while fulfilling their obligations towards Allah, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), the Holy Imams (a.s.) and all the creatures.

Allah is not deficient while fulfilling the rights of people. He has taken upon himself to give sustenance to one and all. He bestows man with unlimited favours. He listens to his entreaties and fulfills his wishes in keeping with his well being. So it is incumbent upon man to be faithful in fulfilling his duties towards Allah. Man can do this by being thankful to Allah for His blessings, by obeying His commands by carrying out all his obligations. Thus one who succumbs to Satan and his own selfish desires, has disobeyed Allah and he has not fulfilled Allah's right. His prayers are not answered immediately, he becomes impatient and does not realise that he himself is deficient in fulfilling Allah's rights. Allah (a.j.) says in the Holy Quran.

"...and be faithful to (your) covenant with Me, I will fulfill (My) covenant with you." 
(Surah Baqarah 2:40)

It is nothing but His Beneficence that inspite of our failings Allah listens to our prayer.

Hazrat Imam Zainul Aabedeen (a.s.) says in Dua Abu Hamza Thumali:
"All praise be to Allah Who responds to my call. Whereas when He calls me, I am lazy in my response. All praise be to Allah Who gives me whatever I ask Him. Though when He asks me for a loan I am stingy. (All the good deeds are a loan to Allah. He shall repay men on the Day of Qiyamat).

And all praise for that Allah who sees my infamies but acts magnanimously (He does not send immediate punishment). He is so forgiving as if I have not committed a single sin."

What you desire for yourself

Saadi Shirazi says in a couplet, 
"You usurp the property of Muslims but when someone usurps yours you protest and claim that no one is a Muslim anymore."

If one desires not to be cheated by others one must be honest in ones dealings with others. Justice demands this. The traditions also state that one must wish for others what one desires for oneself.

Justice and equity is best

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says: 
"Three actions are the best. People should receive complete justice from you so much so that you desire for them what you desire for yourself. You must co-operate monetarily with your brothers in faith. You must remember Allah in every condition. That remembrance is not merely Subhanallah (Glory be to Allah) or Alhamdo Lillah (Praise be to Allah), (it is remembering Allah, always). When some duty comes upon you which Allah has ordered, you must fulfill it, and when some prohibited act comes before you; leave it."
(Al Kafi)

The scales of justice

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) advises his son Imam Hasan Mujtaba (a.s.) in his will:
"O my child, make yourself the measure (for dealings) between you and others. Thus, you should desire for others what you desire for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself. Do not oppress, as you do not like to be oppressed. Do well to others, as you would like good to be done to you. Regard bad for yourself whatever you regard bad for others. Accept that (treatment) from others which you would like others to accept from you."
(Nahjul Balagha)

Everything has a measure

In Surah Hadid, Allah, the Almighty says: 
"Certainly We sent Our apostles with clear arguments, and sent down with them the Book and the balance that men may conduct themselves with equity."
(Surah Hadid 57:25)

By the word 'balance', Allah means justice and Allah has appointed a 'balance' for everything. The belief of men and the truth and falsehood is also tested on this basis. The good and bad morals and qualities are also evaluated on the scales of justice. If men conform to justice in their speech and actions and belief and deeds they will be able to establish true justice in the world.

Ali (a.s.) is the scale of deeds

In one of the Ziarat of Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) we read:
"Peace be upon the balance and the scales."

Hazrat Ali (a.s.) is the measure for distinguishing truth and falsehood. He is the touchstone for differentiating between good and evil. He is the scale for evaluating morals and deeds. After the demise of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), the Holy Quran and Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), especially Ali (a.s.), is the channel for and the criterion of faith. By comparing the deeds and faith with the speech and actions of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) we distinguish good from evil. If our belief and actions conform to the standards of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) they are correct and if not then they are of no use.

Justice demands that we must not go to the extremes. We should neither exceed the limits nor remain deficient. The scales of justice are very accurate and can detect even the weight of a single strand of hair. After recognising the path of justice it is a formidable task to remain firm upon it. One who is successful in recognising the true path and wishes to follow it, is bestowed Divine help. It is this person who is proved correct by the scales of justice on the Day of Judgement. He crosses the difficultbridge of Sirat with ease and swiftness. One who is not just in this world is proved wrong in the Hereafter. He will stumble from the bridge of sirat and drop into hell. The noble Quran says: 
"And there is not one of you but shall come to it, this is an unavoidable decree of your Lord. And We will deliver those who guarded (against evil) and We will leave the unjust therein on their knees."
(Surah Marium 19:71-72)

May Allah guide us upon the way of justice and equity. May Allah include us among the pious and enable us to be saved from falling into Hell. 


The twenty-fifth Greater Sin is Consumption of Haraam. In the Quranic ayat 'Akal-e-soht' is translated as eating of what is unlawfully acquired. Hence the word "eat" is not restricted to consumption of edibles but includes the use of any and every article, which has been acquired unlawfully or by illegal means.

Consumption of haraam is listed as greater sin in the Holy Quran and the tradition of Imam Reza (a.s.) from the book Oyoon-e-Akhbare Reza and the tradition of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as related by Amash. In the following ayat of Surah Maidah:
"And you will see many of them striving with one another to hasten in sin and exceeding the limits, and their eating of what is unlawfully acquired; certainly evil is that which they do. Why do not the learned men and doctors of law prohibit them from their speaking of what is sinful and their eating of what is unlawfully acquired? Certainly evil is that which they work."
(Surah Maidah 5:62-63)

In this ayat Soht refers to the acquirement as well as use of anything acquired unlawfully. The dictionary meaning of 'Soht' is 'to be finished' or 'to be lost'. The thing that becomes 'Soht' is that which is finished off or used up. The use of this word signifies that unlawfully acquired things do not have any 'barakat' and will not benefit the possessor in any way. It should be evident that this unlawful practice would include usurping another's property, taking interest and all activities that are undertaken using the money obtained by illegal means. The use of article brought with such money is also unlawful.

Sayyid Abu A'laa Maududi writes in his book Islam and the Economic Problems: "Islam permits the people to obtain their livelihood in any way they opt. They have their freedom to choose their occupation and obtain the necessities of life, but Islam does not allow them to earn in a manner that is harmful for society. It should also not endanger the social equilibrium. Islamic laws not only prohibit the consumption of wine and intoxicants and gambling, but also prohibit any action that causes these sinful things to come into being. For example to undertake cultivation of grapes for wine making, to manufacture wine, to transport, to buy or sell wine, to give it and to use it; all these are haraam too. Islam does not consider free-sex to be a human activity. Islam has prohibited dancing. It does not consider singing and playing musical instruments lawful professions. Any activity that is beneficial to one person but harmful to someone else or to society is considered haraam in Islam. All such types of actions carry a heavy punishment in this world and a dreadful retribution in the hereafter e.g. bribes, stealing, interest-taking, adulteration and frauds, unlawful hoarding of edible items to hike their rates making life difficult for the poor. In the same way all such actions that instigate wars and those occupations that do not require effort, making the person rich by luck, such as lottery. All these occupations are haraam."

Shaykh Sadooq (r.a.) has narrated a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said, 
"Any action of Khayanat with the Imam is 'Soht'."

There are many types of 'Soht'. 'Soht' includes that which is received from the tyrant rulers, bribe to Qazis, payment for prostitution, wine, alcoholic nabid (a kind of wine), and interest.

"To bribe a Qazi (for giving a favourable judgement) is to disbelieve in Allah the Almighty." 
(Khisaal of Sadooq)

A similar kind of tradition is to be found in the book Al Kafi, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:
"'Soht' means the payment for
 corpse, for dogs and wine. It also denotes the fee paid to a prostitute, the bribe given to a judge and the payment to a Kahin." 

Although consumption of every type of haraam is 'Soht', some of them are denounced more emphatically and their punishment is more severe. The worst of these is taking bribe. One who accepts bribe is just like a disbeliever and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has cursed him. The one who takes interest is equated to the one who has made war against Allah (a.j.) and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.).

Types of bribe

There are three types of bribes: 
(1) Bribe paid to a judge for a favourable judgement.
(2) Bribe for 'haraam' work.
(3) Bribe for permitted things.

The first kind of bribe comprises of money etc. paid to a judge so that he may give a favourable judgement. The judge may also be bribed for pointing out the loopholes whereby one could weaken the position of the opposite party. It is absolutely haraam even if the one who is paying the bribe is right and the judge delivers the correct judgement. The paying and receiving of this type of bribe or whatever may comprise this bribe is also haraam and a Greater sin. A person who pays or accepts such a bribe deserves the curse of Allah.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"May Allah curse one who gives a bribe, one who accepts it and one who acts as an agent between them."
(Safinatul Behaar)

Elsewhere, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Beware of bribe! It is nothing but disbelief. The one who is involved in bribe will not even smell the fragrance of
(Safinatul Behaar)

Bribe is not only a sin for the guilty but it constitutes assisting in sin, the one who accepts. However if one is compelled to bribe and without it he cannot obtain his rights, it is another matter, but it is still haraam for one who accepts it. Similarly it is also haraam to reach someone by bribing. The one who acts as an arbitrator or agent and takes an active part in negotiating bribe is also a sinner.

This type of bribe is absolutely haraam whether paid in cash or kind. Bribe may also comprise of offering some services to the judge like stitching his clothes free of cost or constructing his house etc. Bribe can even be paid in words. One may praise a judge unduly to please him and thus influence him to give a favourable ruling.

Bribe in the name of khums and gift

Even if a bribe is paid in the name of khums and gift, it is haraam. For example to give someone a gift or a present with the intention of bribing him i.e. with the intention that by giving a gift the beneficiary will act to benefit the giver in some way. Similarly khums and zakat given with the intention of bribing is also haraam. It will not be considered as Khums or Zakat and it will be obligatory for one who has paid Khums or Zakat with such intentions, to pay it once more. Khums and Zakat are to be given with the purest of intentions, that of achieving nearness to Allah (a.j.). There can be no other motive. One of the signs of Qiyamat is mentioned in traditions in the following words: 
"Bribes will be accepted as gifts."

The second kind of bribe is the bribe paid to someone, a tyrant or an oppressor for inflicting harm on a third person. The Holy Quran says:
"And do not swallow up your property among yourselves by false means, neither seek to gain access thereby to the judges, so that you may swallow up a part of the property of men wrongfully while you know."
(Surah Baqarah 2:188)

In this ayat believers are warned not to use anything obtained illegally and not to use their wealth to bribe those in power in order to obtain anything unlawfully.

Paying a bribe for obtaining ones rights

The third type of bribe is one that is paid for something lawful. Like paying someone in order that he may help in obtaining ones rightful property or to escape from a tyrant. Bribing for lawful things is allowed.

In a tradition Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) was asked about the person who bribes the occupant of a house to vacate it so that the owner may himself use it as his residence. Imam (a.s.) said that there was no harm in it. However the house mentioned in this hadith does not belong to the person who pays the bribe. It is a trust property or a public place like, the mosque, madrasa, lane, by-lane, and bazaar etc. Thus if someone is occupying a place in the mosque or a student is living in a room in the public hostel, he can be bribed to vacate it.

Hafsul Amr enquired from Imam Ali an-Naqi (a.s.): "The ruler has appointed agents to purchase our agricultural produce. Is it allowed for us to bribe those agents so that we may remain safe from the ruler's tyranny?"

Imam (a.s.) replied, 
"There is no harm in it. You may pay whatever you think fit."

Then Imam (a.s.) asked: 
"Do you have to supply lesser quantity of grain to the ruler after you have paid the bribe to these agents?" "Yes," said the questioner.

"You have invalidated your bribe (i.e. you have made the bribe haraam)," Imam told him.

Thus it is clear that bribing to cause someone to be oppressed is haraam but it is permitted in order to save oneself from oppression.

Accepting a bribe for doing something lawful

It must however be made clear that though it is permitted to gift something for lawful acts or to save oneself from oppression, it is detestable to accept such gifts. Because these gifts bear a close resemblance to bribe. Also, the habit of bribing for lawful things may make a man habitual and he may be inclined to pay bribes for unlawful purposes too. One is prone to error. If a pious person refrains for Makrooh (detestable) bribe he will never be prone to the haraam bribe. The following tradition supports this fact.

"Those are they for whom Allah does not desire that He should purify their hearts; they shall have disgrace in this world, and they shall have a grievous chastisement in the hereafter. (They are) listeners of a lie, devourers of what is forbidden." 
(Surah Maidah 5:41-42)

Explaining this ayat, Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says: 
"It is that person who fulfills the wish of his believing brother and accepts a gift in return."

Shaykh Ansari says in the book, Makasibul Aamaal: "There are many explanations of this tradition. One of it is that we must absolutely refrain from accepting gifts in return for favours done that we may never fall into the trap of accepting bribe."


Characteristics of those who eat haraam

A typical feature of earnings by haraam means the money and wealth so acquired. It is narrated from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said,
"The madness of (acquiring or constructing) buildings. Mud and water occupies the head of one who earns by unlawful means."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

It means that a person with unlawful earnings is constantly worried about his wealth and strives to convert it into fixed property so that it is not lost. The buildings of mud and water neither benefit the owner in the Hereafter nor do they provide peace in this world. Such a person spends every bit of his wealth for pieces of land. Finally, Allah orders the land to swallow all his wealth.

Unlawful gains are harmful both from the worldly point of view as there is no barakat in such gain and also from the spiritual point of view as these form obstacles in the acceptance of acts of worship.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says: 
"When a single morsel of haraam enters the stomach of a person and becomes a part of his body, the angels of the sky and the earth curse him."
(Safinatul Behaar)

The Messenger of Allah has also said: 
"Acts of worship accompanied by the acquiring of haraam are like buildings that rest on (crumbling) sand."
(Safinatul Behaar)

They lack a firm foundation and hence are of no use. Such buildings can never remain intact and are soon destroyed.

Invocations are not accepted

The noble Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has remarked,
"Prayers of the one who eats a single morsel of haraam are not accepted for forty nights nor are his invocations accepted for forty days. Every piece of flesh that grows by consuming haraam is most deserving of being burnt in hell-fire and even a single morsel consumed causes some growth of flesh."
(Safinatul Behaar)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also stated, 
"One who wishes to have his invocations accepted must keep aloof from haraam food and unlawful earnings."
(Al Kafi)

A man asked the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.): 
"I wish for the acceptance of my deeds." The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told him,
"Keep your food purified from haraam and do not let any unlawful thing enter your stomach."
(Al Kafi)

The Almighty Allah revealed to Janabe Isa Ibne Maryam (a.s.): 
"Inform the oppressors of Bani Israel that they must not call Me and invoke Me as long as they are involved in unlawful earnings. And if they call Me and invoke Me in this condition, I will curse them."
(Al Kafi)

Hardening of the heart

Whatever man eats is like a seed sown in the earth. If the seed is good it will bear sweet fruits. If the seed is bitter and poisonous, so is the fruit that grows from it. If the food is good and lawful it has beneficial effects on the heart. It is purified from every blemish and impurity. The organs of this person perform good deeds, but if one consumes food obtained through unlawful means it causes the heart to harden. The symptoms are soon obvious. A hard hearted person is unaffected by any kind of preaching and remains absolutely impenitent. Such a man is not moved even when he sees clear injustice. No good can be expected from him. Not a trace of goodness is visible in his dark heart. He refuses to accept what is right and is immune to every kind of moral advice. The tragedy of Karbala is the perfect example of this phenomenon. These are the characteristics clearly pointed out by Imam Husain (a.s.) in his address to the troops of Ibne Saad: 
"You bellies are filled with unlawful (wealth). Now you will not accept the truth. Why don't you deal with justice? Why don't you listen to me?"
(Nafasul Mahmoom)

In other words, when a person's heart becomes hard and darkness occupies it. 
During the rule of the Abbasid King Mahdi, there was a Qazi named Shareek bin Abdullah. He was an honest and upright Judge, till the time he was summoned by the king. The Abbaside King forced him to
 opt one from three things 
(1) Either he should accept the post of the Royal Qazi
(2) He should become the teacher of the King's son
(3) or he should dine with the king, at least once.

The Qazi thought that easiest of the three was to eat with the king once, so he agreed to dine with King Mahdi. The ruler ordered the royal chef to prepare the best of the dishes. When the Qazi had eaten the food, the cook remarked to his companions, "Now, Qazi Shareek will never achieve salvation."

The prediction came to be true. The haraam food affected the Qazi to the extent that he also accepted the other two conditions. He became the special Qazi of the King and the tutor of his children. It is said that Qazi Shareek used to be very strict and unflinching with the treasurers while obtaining his share from the royal treasury.

One day the treasurer protested, "You have not sold me grain that you act so ruthless in recovering its price." Qazi Shareek replied, "Yes, I have sold something more valuable! I have sold my religion."

One day a tray filled with delicious dishes was sent by Haroon al-Rasheed for Bahlool. Bahlool did not accept it. The servants of the king said, "It is not possible to reject the present of the Caliph." Bahlool, the wise, pointed towards the stray dogs and said, "Give it to the dogs."

The servants became angry and said, "You have insulted the royal gifts." Bahlool became silent then said, "Be quiet, if the dogs learn that this food is sent by the king, they will not touch it."

A morsel of halaal food

Eating haraam gives rise to every type of infamy. Whereas, the halaal morsel is the cause of every kind of goodness and charity. Numerous traditions praise the acquisition of livelihood through lawful means. For example the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says, 
"Worship consists of seventy parts and the best part is earnings by lawful means."
(Safinatul Behaar)

The Messenger of Allah has also said, 
"When a man eats halaal food an angel stands over his head and prays for his forgiveness till he finishes eating."
(Safinatul Behaar)

The Prophet has remarked in a similar vein, 
"One who strives to earn his livelihood in a lawful manner from morning till night, achieves salvation."
(Safinatul Behaar)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) states that Allah has said: 
"I will not care on the Day of Qiyamat from which door he enters Hell, the person who does not care from which door he earns money in this world."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

The Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has also mentioned the following tradition:
"One who does nor care from which way he earns wealth in this world will be sent to Hell in Qiyamat and I shall not care from which way he is made to enter it."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

Allah does not provide unlawful livelihood

Maybe, those who do not refrain from unlawful earnings are afraid that if they give up this chance they may suffer poverty and deprivation. This is just a false notion. It is merely a satanic thought because it goes against the Divine promise of lawful sustenance repeatedly mentioned in the Quran. It is unreasonable, as it is contrary to the numerous traditions of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). The Almighty Allah has promised to provide sustenance to each and every creature. The Divine promise is never unfulfilled. Allah only tests the believers to see if they strive patiently to acquire lawful livelihood or act impatiently and deviate. Whatever sustenance is decreed is surely received. It is only the impatience of the people and the weakness of their faith that makes them leave the path of lawful earnings and stray towards illegal occupations. When a person does this he fails the test. Allah deprives this person of the lawful sustenance that was in his destiny. Allah has not decreed for anyone unlawful sustenance.

No one dies without receiving his decreed sustenance

On the occasion of the last Hajj, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) addressed the Muslims in the precincts of the Masjidul Haraam: 
"Know that, the trustworthy Spirit (Jibraeel) has informed that no creature dies till he has received his destined sustenance.

Then fear Allah and do not vie among yourself in earning your livelihood. If there is some delay in receiving your sustenance, it must not be that you pursue it in disobedience to Allah. Verily, Allah has distributed only halaal sustenance to every creature. He has not destined haraam sustenance to anyone.

Hence one who fears Allah and acts with patience, Allah shall bestow upon him His sustenance through lawful means. But one who abandons purity and takes up haraam methods, a similar amount shall be decreased from his lawful sustenance. He shall be made to account for his haraam earnings on the Day of Qiyamat. Allah the Almighty has prohibited it in the following words: "...and do not substitute worthless (things) for (their) good (ones)..."
(Surah Nisa 4:2)

It should not be that in a hurry to obtain livelihood you obtain it through illegal ways, before Allah provides you with the halaal sustenance that He had decreed for you."
(Al Kafi)

Deprived of halaal food

One day, Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) reached the mosque and alighted from his mule. He entrusted his animal to a person and entered the mosque. The man pulled out the saddle and ran away leaving the mule unattended.

When Ali (a.s.) returned, he was holding two dirhams. He intended to give them to the man who had looked after the mule. He found the mule without the saddle. After reaching home he gave the same two dirhams to his slave for the purchase of another saddle. The slave went to the bazaar found the same rein. It came to be known that the thief had sold the stolen rein for two dirhams. It was the same amount that he could have earned in a lawful way. When the slave related the whole incident to Ali (a.s.), he said, 
"By abandoning patience man converts his halaal sustenance into haraam. Though he does not receive more than what is in his destiny."


Non-fulfillment of another's right, without a valid excuse is the twenty-sixth greater sin. If a person who has some right upon someone and demands his right but the one on whom the obligation rests does not fulfill the right, even though he is capable of it, then this person has committed a greater sin. Non-fulfillment of rights as a greater sin is according to Nass (Holy Quran and hadith). The frequently quoted tradition of Amash from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and the hadith of Imam Reza (a.s.) as narrated by Fazl ibn Shazaan also include it in he list of greater sins.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says: 
"One who does not fulfill the rights of a believer (and does not repay what he owes to him), on the Day of Judgement, Allah will make him stand for five hundred years and blood or sweat will ooze through his body. An announcer from Allah will announce, 'This is the oppressor who had not fulfilled the right of Allah.' Then after being admonished for another forty days it will be ordered for him to be thrown into the fire (those who admonish him will be either believers or prophets).

An explanation of this hadith by Allamah Majlisi states that if the sinner's oppression is not of a very serious nature, sweat will flow from his body and if his oppression is of a serious nature, blood will seep out of him. 
(Miratul Oqool page 361)

Allamah Majlisi further says, "This tradition proves that the right of a believer is the right of Allah. Allah has ordered to restore a believer's right. Disobeying this command is just like usurping the right of Allah. The tradition further states: 
"On the Day of Qiyamat a caller will announce, 'Where are those who oppressed and tortured the friends of Allah?' Some people will stand up. They will not be having any flesh on their faces. It will be said, 'These are the ones who tortured the believers, bore enmity towards them, dealt
 harshly with them due to their belief.'"

It will be ordered that they may be thrown into Hell. Further, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) swears by Allah the Almighty and says that these people had the same belief as the believers, but they did not respect their rights and also exposed the secrets of the believers. 
(Wasaelush Shia)

And Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has remarked:
"A believer who has something and another believer is in need of it; if the former does not fulfill the need of the needy momin he will not ever taste the food of Paradise nor drink the Raheeq-al-Makhtoom (A drink of Paradise)."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

Demand for fulfillment of rights on the Day of Qiyamat

Hazrat Sajjad (a.s.) says: 
"On the Day of Qiyamat a person will be caught by his hand and the people of Mahshar (Gathering) will be told that anyone who has any claim upon him may secure his right."
(Layali Al Akhbaar)

On the Day of Qiyamat, this would be the most difficult ordeal to face. Every person will avoid meeting his relatives and friends and will be in constant dread of the demands they may make of him. Perhaps this is the predicament alluded to in the following Quranic ayat: 
"The day on which a man shall fly from his brother, And his mother and his father, And his spouse and his son..."
(Surah Abasa 80:34-36)

Actual poverty

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) asked his followers, 
"Do you know who is the actual destitute?"

"One who has no money, property or treasure," they replied. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said, 
"There is no destitute in my Ummat except the one who has performed the prayers, kept fasts, paid the Zakat, performed Hajj but on the Day of Judgement a person will come whose property he has usurped, and a person whose blood he had shed and another one whom he had beaten. Then the good deeds of this man will be transferred to those who have rights upon him. If his good deeds are exhausted before all the rights are fulfilled then the sins of those who have rights upon him will be added to his sins. Then he shall be thrown into Hell."

Non-payments of debts and transgressing of rights
Anything owed by a person is a debt incurred by him which should be repaid. The full amount of the money loaned has to be paid as per the agreed payment schedule. The same applies to an item that is sold but not delivered. The seller is obliged to deliver the goods to the
 client on time. Similarly the one who has taken something on hire is responsible for it. A husband is indebted to his wife till he pays the dower amount. The husband is also responsible for the maintenance of his permanent wife. The laws of guarantee are numerous and available in the books of jurisprudence. We shall only discuss the topics that are relevant for our purpose.

Loan for a fixed period and loan without time limit

Loans are of two types. One that is not bound by a time limit or when the date of payment has already expired. The other type of loan has a fixed time for repayment. The creditor cannot demand the loaned property before the due date. If the loanee dies all debts owed by him become due immediately. For example if a person has borrowed something for a year, but dies before the end of the year, his heirs must pay his loan immediately. It is no excuse that the time of payment has not come. But if the creditor dies his heirs do not have the right of demanding the loan before time.

It is Compulsory to repay a Debt

If the time of payment is due or if the creditor demands back his loan the debtor is obliged to repay immediately. The loan must be repaid even if the debtor has to sell his excess belongings or even if he has to sell his things at less than the market value. However if he is compelled to sell at a throwaway price then it is not obligatory for the debtor to sell those things. If the debtor does not have anything like a carpet, clothes, household items, shop etc. that he can sell and repay the loan, then he must take up a job that is suitable for his position. In any case he is under an obligation to clear his due.

Carelessness and sloth with regard to the repayment of loan are absolutely haraam; and a greater sin. If the debtor possesses only those things that are necessary for his life; like a modest house, carpets and clothes etc, then it is not necessary for him to sell them to repay his loan. The creditor cannot compel the debtor to sell off these things. However, if the debtor wishes to sell them of his own accord, he can do so, and the creditor is allowed to accept the loan. But it is desirable that the creditor respites the debtor till the time Allah makes him capable of repaying his debts.

It is related by Uthman bin Ziyad: "I informed Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) that a person owed money to me and wished to dispose off his residence to repay me. Upon hearing this Imam (a.s.) said thrice: 
"I seek Allah's refuge for you." (That you cause this poor man to sacrifice his dwelling place to pay).

Many similar traditions have been recorded in books of hadith. It is narrated that a famous companion of Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) and Imam Reza (a.s.), by the name of Muhammad bin Abi Umair traded in cloth. It so happened that mounting losses pushed him to the brink of poverty. One of his debtors owed him 10,000 dirhams. When he learnt of the companion'smisfortune, he sold his house and brought the money to repay the amount that he owed. Muhammad bin Umair inquired if he had received the amount of 10,000 dirhams as inheritance. When he replied in the negative, he asked if he had received it as a gift from someone. Again he replied, "No, but I have sold the house where I lived, so that I can repay my debt to you."

Muhammad bin Umair related a saying of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), prohibiting a creditor to force his debtor to sell his house and said, "By Allah, at present I am in need of each and every dirham but I cannot take a single dirham from this."

Actually Muhammad bin Abi Umair was a rich man having assets worth over 500,000 dirhams. His present state of poverty was because of his closeness to Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.). Due to this he was imprisoned for four years and lashed mercilessly. The tyrant Caliph confiscated whatever he had. May Allah have mercy upon such oppressed people. It is an established fact that if someone deprives a person of his rights then each day that passes makes him liable to a sin which is equal to collecting Ethesher (a 10% tax collected on orders of tyrant ruler).

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says: 
"The martyr in Allah's way is absolved of every sin except for the unpaid debt; which has no substitute. Repaying the debt is a must; or the creditor may forgo it. (otherwise even the martyr will be interrogated regarding his debts)."
(Wasaelush Shia Chap 4, vol.13, page 83)

Moreover, he (a.s.) has remarked: 
"As soon as the first drop of a martyr's blood is spilled all his sins are forgiven. Except for the unpaid debt, which is not excused. Its forgiveness can be achieved only by repaying (the debt)."
(Wasaelush Shia chap.4, Vol.13, page 85)

The gravity of all this can be ascertained from the incident when a person from the Ansars departed from this world. He had left behind an unpaid debt of two dinars. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) refused to pray the namaz-e-Janaza till some of the relatives undertook the responsibility to repay the deceased's debt.

When Muawiya bin Wahab questioned Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) regarding this tradition, he (a.s.) replied: 
"This is an authentic tradition and the Prophet's saying conveys the same meaning that people should derive lesson from it and understand the seriousness of debt. They should not regard it insignificant and must make it a point to repay their debts."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), Hazrat Ali (a.s.), Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Imam Husain (a.s.) were all having some debts when they departed from this world but they appointed their legatees who repaid their debts after their passing away. This hadith signifies that it is not prohibited to be in debt but to ignore or to delay the repayment of debt is haraam. It is not even advisable to travel (for pilgrimage) to Mecca and Madinah without first clearing one's debts.

Abu Samaniya asked Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) regarding this, "I wish to go and settle down in Mecca or Madinah but I am in debt to some of the people here." Imam (a.s.) replied: 
"Go home! First repay your debts. It must not be that you die in this condition and meet your Lord while you are in debt. For a believer never does Khayanat (misappropriation of trust)."
(Al Kafi vol.5 page 94)

Not repaying debts is Khayanat to all

The above hadith makes it amply clear that not fulfilling someone's right or delaying the repayment of debt is equal to Khayanat. Consequently, all the traditions that are recorded in the chapter on Khayanat are equally applicable here and the Prophetic traditions have described Khayanat as a kind of oppression.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has announced:
"A Muslim who inspite of being capable delays the repayment of debt has committed oppression upon all the Muslims."
(Wasaelush Shia Vol.13 page 97)

Not repaying a debt is a kind of oppression upon the creditor. In fact such an act is an oppression upon the Muslims in general. This is so because, upon seeing, that this person inspite of being capable is not repaying the debt, others who are capable of lending money will be disinclined to do so, for fear of meeting with a similar fate. Lending is a meritorious act and anyone who is responsible for discouraging it, has indeed oppressed all Muslims.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has said:
"May Allah curse the one who closed the door of good actions. And it is the one who is not thankful to the one who has done some good towards him. Consequently the doer of good refrains from doing the same favour towards someone else in the future."
(Behaarul Anwaar, Wasaelush Shia)

Certainly, lending is an act of goodness. Not repaying or causing undue delay in the repayment is disregarding this favour. Also it can result in the creditor avoiding lending his money to anyone else in future.

Method of lending and borrowing

Authentic traditions have greatly emphasised the rewards that are promised for the one who lends. On the other hand, those who avoid this good deed have severe punishment in store. Sometimes it is obligatory to lend and not prohibited to lend. And sometimes it is Mustahab (recommended) to lend and Makrooh (detestable) not to lend.

Generally it is detestable to borrow but if the need to do so is genuine the detestibility is scaled down. The magnitude of detestibility is directly proportional to the actual gravity of the situation. In fact under some circumstances it is obligatory to borrow. For example it becomes obligatory to borrow to save one's life or honour. If a person knows that he will not be able to repay the loan, then precaution demands that he should refrain from borrowing unless he is in dire need.

Rewards for lending-punishment for not lending

The blessed Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.) said:
"One who lends to his believing brother and gives him respite till he is capable of repaying it, the amount that he has lent is considered as Zakat and the Angels pray for him and seek Divine mercy for him till this (amount) is returned."
(Wasaelush Shia Chap.6 Vol.13 page 86)

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has also remarked:
"If one lends to his Muslim brother, it is for his own (good). Every Dirham that he lends will
 qualify him for a reward equivalent to Mount Ohud (which is in Mecca) and Mount Sinai. And if he is lenient in collecting his debt he shall cross the bridge of Siratlike a stroke of lightning. And if a Muslim brother relates his woes before a person and this person does not lend him any money, the Heaven shall be denied to him on the Day of recompensing good doers." 
(Wasaelush Shia)

It is obligatory to have the intention of repaying ones debt

The person who is not in a position to repay his debt must necessarily have the intention to repay it as soon as he is capable of doing so. This intention should have the first priority with him. In fact the intention to repay should be there right at the outset. A person who takes a loan without having the intention to repay it is considered a thief. The following are the traditions of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) regarding the intention of a person who takes a loan:
"One who takes a loan but does not care to repay it, is a thief."
(Wasaelush Shia chapter of Tejaarat)

He (a.s.) has also said:
"There are three kinds of thieves, one who does not pay Zakat, secondly one who does not consider the amount of Meher (dower) payable to the wife as an obligatory debt and one who takes a loan but does not intend to repay it."

The respected Imam (a.s.) further said,
"If the debtor intends to repay the loan, the Almighty Allah appoints two angels to help him till the loan is repaid. But if he becomes careless of this intention he becomes deprived of Allah's blessings."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The Incapable Debtor Must be given Respite

Although it is allowed for a debtor to sell off his unnecessary belongings to repay his debts, the creditor is under divine obligation not to cause undue trouble. The creditor should give respite so that the loanee can easily repay the dues. Under these conditions if he condones his loan altogether, it will be considered a Sadaqah which will remain with Allah as his trust and he will continue to benefit from it forever.

The Almighty says in the Holy Quran:
"And if (the debtor) is in straitness, then let there be postponement until (he is in) ease, and that you remit (it) as alms is better for you, if you knew."
(Surah Baqarah 2:280)

Two important points can be derived from the Quranic verse quoted above. One, it is obligatory to give respite to a debtor who is incapable of repaying the loan. Secondly, it is more meritorious for the creditor to condone the loan completely.

Numerous traditions have mentioned these two points.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has said:
"Your debtor is not permitted to delay in repaying the loan if he is capable to pay it. In the same way you are not permitted to pressurise him unduly when you know that he is not in a position to repay you immediately."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The honourable Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has been recorded to have said:
"Do not harass your Muslim brother with a demand to the repayment of debt when you know that he is not able to repay it. Because our exalted grandfather the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has said that it is not permitted for a Muslim to harass his Muslim brother. And if a creditor gives respite to a loanee he shall become qualified to receive the shade (and protection) of the Almighty on the day when there will be no other shade."
(Wasaelush Shia)

It means that on the Day of Judgement such a person will receive special favours from the Almighty. The Masoom (a.s.) has also remarked:
"If one wishes that he be given refuge under Divine shade on the day when there will be no other shade, he should grant respite to his debtor and must not demand it (immediately), or should condone his loan completely."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has said:
"There would be some people under the shade of the Arsh on the Day of Qiyamat such that their faces will be bright, their dresses and their chairs shall be glittering. Then an announcer will call: These are the people who did good towards the believers and gave respite to the incapable debtor till the time he could repay the debt."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Each Day of Respite Brings Rewards of Sadaqah

The trustworthy scholar of the Shias, Shaykh Kulayni (r.a.) has recorded that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is reported to have said:
"One day the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) mounted the pulpit and after glorifying Allah and praising the prophets (a.s.) said: 'Those who are present are under the obligation to convey (what I say now) to those who are not present (in the assembly).'

Then He (s.a.w.s.) said:
'If one gives respite to his helpless debtor then till the time he receives his loan it is upon Allah to record the reward of Sadaqah in his scroll of deeds.'"
(Wasaelush Shia)

For each day of respite that a person gives his debtor he receives divine reward equivalent to the spending of the loan amount as Sadaqah. Several traditions on this subject could be quoted but the ones mentioned should suffice. It must be remembered that avoiding or delaying the payment of Khums and Zakat is also considered a failure to restore rights. Not paying Zakat is also a Greater sin according to the rulings of the Quran and hadith. We shall deal with it in a separate chapter.

Allah will Forgive

If a person dies before he has repaid his debt and the creditor has not been compensated for it from the belongings left by him; the creditor has not forgiven him his debt and provided the debtor has not been negligient about repaying, nor was the loan taken for an illegal purpose and also the person had every intention of repaying but was unable to do so. Under these circumstances according to traditions Allah (a.j.) by His Grace will compensate the creditor on the Day of Judgement.

Muhammad Bin Bashir came to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and told him that he owed a thousand Dinars to Shahab. He requested the Imam to persuade Shahab to respite him till the days of Hajj. So Imam (a.s.) summoned Shahab and said:
"You know that Muhammad Bin Bashir is among our followers. He owes you a thousand Dinars. This amount was not spent by him on himself. Rather it remained as a debt upon some people and he had to bear the loss. I wish that you will forgo your thousand Dinars."

Then he (a.s.) said,
"Maybe you are under the impression that his good deeds will be given to you in return of your loan?"

Shahab said, "Yes, I am under this impression." Imam (a.s.) told him,
"The Almighty Allah is Merciful and Just. If someone, in order to achieve Allah's nearness, worships Him on
 frigid winter nights and fasts on hot summer days, circles the Holy Ka'ba. Then do you think after all this Allah will take away his good deeds and give them to you? It is not so, His mercy is much more. By His munificence He recompenses the good deeds of a believer."

After listening to these words Shahab said that he has condoned his loan forever.

The Debtor Whose Good Deeds are Given to the Creditor

If the debtor is guilty of being lazy in repaying, or if he had taken the loan for an illegal purpose, or if he has delayed the repayment inspite of being capable of doing so, and if after his death his debt has not been paid nor has the creditor condoned him. Then on the Day of Qiyamat his good deeds equivalent to the loan amount shall be given to the creditor and if his good deeds are exhausted or insufficient to cover the amount, sins from the scroll of deeds of the creditor will be transferred to the scroll of the guilty debtor.

Some narrations have described this phenomena in clear words.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has been recorded to have said:
"The most difficult time on the Day of Qiyamat will be when those eligible to receive Khums and Zakat will rise up and besiege the one who has not paid it. They will complain to Allah that this person has not paid the amount due to them from Khums and Zakat. Then Allah will transfer the good deeds of that person and give them to those who were eligible (for Zakat and Khums)."

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has also said that on the Day of Qiyamat the creditor will complain against his debtor. Then if the debtor would have good deeds to his credit, they will be taken away for the creditor and if there are no good deeds for this purpose, the sins of the creditor will be added in the scroll of deeds of the debtor.

It is amply evident from the various traditions that if a person dies before fulfilling the rights of others upon him he will not achieve salvation till the rights are restored to the owner or the owner condones him. Or till his good deeds are given to the one who had the right upon him or if there are no good deeds for this purpose the sins of the latter are transferred to the scroll of deeds of the former. Or lastly, until the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) intercede on his behalf.


Amount of Compensation

Exactly how many of the good deeds will be required to compensate for an unpaid debt is a matter known by Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Neither we have any knowledge of it nor is it necessary for us to know. However, some traditions do mention some equivalents. For example in a tradition the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said that in lieu of each dirham 600 prayers of the debtor will be paid to the creditor.
(Layali Akhbaar)

And if 1/6 Dirham is of silver, then seven hundred accepted prayers of the debtor will be transferred to the rightful owner. (Each silver dirham is equal to the weight of 18 grains of gram). Thus, one who departs from this world while yet in debt will be under very difficult circumstances. Everyone must be very particular to repay one's debt as soon as possible. If a person is unable to repay his debts he must establish contact with Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and seek their intercession to obtain the forgiveness of the creditor.

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) says,
"Nothing is more serious after the Greater sins than the fact that a person dies while he is in debt to people and there is nothing to (sell to) repay his debt."
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

Moreover, the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.) told his companions after prayers one day:
"Such and such person who was martyred is still waiting outside
 Paradise. He cannot enter it because he still owes three dirhams to a Jew."

Haste in Repaying Debt is Mustahab (Recommended)

It has been made amply clear that not repaying debt, or returning the rights is haraam and a Greater sin. Depending upon the demand of the creditor and the ability of the debtor it becomes obligatory to repay the debt as soon as possible. Too much divine reward is promised for this.

Allamah Noori has quoted in his book Daarus Salaam an incident from the book Nurul Uyoon. He writes that Sayed Hashmi, the pious and prominent scholar said that he had taken a hundred dinars as loan from a Jew and promised to return them within a period of twenty days. "I returned half the amount to him and then did not see him for some days. People told me that he had gone to Baghdad. One night I dreamt that it was the Day of Qiyamat. I was summoned with the other people to account for my deeds. And Allah, in His Infinite Mercy allowed me to enter Paradise. So I decided to cross the bridge of Siratas soon as possible. However, the scream of Hell made me fearful. While I was crossing the bridge, all of a sudden my Jew creditor leapt up from below the Hell, engulfed in flames of fire and blocked my way and said, 'Give me 50 Dinar and I'll let you go.' I pleaded to him that I had always been on the look out for him to repay the amount but was unable to find him. He said, 'You are right, but till you repay me you will not be able to traverse this bridge of Sirat.' I said, 'I don't have anything to give.' So in return for his debt he asked me to allow him to put a finger on my body. I gave him the permission and he put his finger on my chest. Just as his finger touched my chest I screamed due to the burning pain and awoke from the dream. The place where the Jew had touched my chest was burnt too." After this he opened his chest to the audience and they saw that there was a terrible wound on it. He said that he was still having it treated, but it did not seem to be cured. When the audience heard all this, they began to wail loudly.

It is also narrated in the 17th volume of Behaarul Anwaar that the First Martyr (Shaheed-e-Awwal) quoted Ahmad bin Abil Jawzi that he said: "It was my wish to see Abu Sulaiman Durrani, who was considered to be a pious and a God-fearing person. Thus, I saw him in a dream after a year of his death. I asked as to how Allah had dealt with him?" He said, "O Ahmed! When I was passing through Baabe Sagheer one day, I saw a camel laden with hay and grass, I plucked a twig from this and do not remember whether I picked teeth with it or threw it away just like that. But a year has passed and I am still occupied in accounting for that twig."

The below Quranic verse also supports this fact:
"O my son! Surely if it is the very weight of the grain of a mustard seed, even though it is in (the heart of) rock, or (high above) in the heaven or (deep down) in the earth, Allah will bring it (to light)..."
(Surah Luqman 31:16)

Thus one who has done an iota of good will see it and one who does an iota of evil will see it on the Day of Qiyamat. In the letter to Muhammad bin Abi Bakr, Ali (a.s.) says, "O creatures of Allah! Know that Allah the Gracious shall question you about your every small and big deed." The following verse is a sufficient proof for this:
"Then one who does an iota of good shall see it and one who does an iota of evil shall see."
(Surah Zilzaal 99:7-8)

It is mentioned in Behaarul Anwaar that Sayyed Hasan bin Sayyed Ali Isfahani said: "At the time of my father's demise I was studying in Najaf-e-Ashraf. The responsibilities of my father fell upon some of my brothers. I was unaware of this fact. Seven months after the death of my father, my mother also passed away at Isfahan. Her last remains were brought to Najaf-e-Ashraf. On one of those nights I saw my father in dream. I asked him that he had died in Isfahan so how did he reach Najaf? He said, "Yes! Though I died in Isfahan, I was given a place in Najaf." I asked if mother was also with him? "She is in Najaf, but in a different house," he replied. So, I surmised that she was not given a position equal to my father. Then I asked him as to how he was. He said that though previously he was in severe pain now by the grace of Almighty he is comfortable. I was surprised that how a pious and religious person like him could suffer pain. He said that it was due to the fact that he was in debt to Haaj Raza the son of Babajoo alias Naalband. "Though he had demanded the payment I was unable to repay it. I was suffering torture for this default." I awoke with a start. I wrote to my brother, the legatee of my father and told him about my dream so that he will make enquiries if my father owed some money to such a person. My brother wrote back that he had gone through all the books of account but could not locate a creditor by that name. Again I wrote to my brother to find this person and ask him directly if he was having a debt upon my deceased father. My brother replied after sometime and said that he had found that person and questioned him about my father's debt. He was told that my father did owe him 18 tomaans but except Allah no one knew about it. He said that after the death of father he had approached my brother and asked him if his name appeared in the list of my father's creditors. When my brother told him that it was not so, he was perturbed as to how my father failed to note down his name among the creditors. Since he did not have any proof he did not see any way to acquire his money. Upon hearing this my brother offered him the amount of outstanding debt. But he refused to accept it. He said that he had already condoned the amount to my late father.

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has said: 
"Oppression is of three types. One that Allah will not forgive, second which is He will forgive and lastly one which he will 'take away'.

1. The oppression Allah will never forgive is Shirk.
2. The oppression that Allah forgives is one that a person does upon himself and it is a sin between that person and Allah.
3. The oppression that Allah 'takes away' is that one that a person does by not repaying his debts.
(Wasaelush Shia)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has remarked,
"One who is able to satisfy (please) his creditors will certainly enter
 Paradise without any delay in accounting. He will be in the Garden, in the company of Ismail (a.s.) the son of Ibrahim (a.s.)."

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has also said, 
The debt which is returned by the debtor is more superior to the worship of a thousand years and the emancipation of a thousand slaves and performing Hajj and Umrah a thousand times."

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
"If someone restores a single dirham to its rightful owner, the Almighty Allah will save him from the fire of Hell and for each Daniq (1/6 of a DIrham) he will get rewards of a prophet and for each Dirham he will get a palace of Red Pearls (in Paradise)."

He (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
"Returning a right to its owner is better than fasting during the day and the prayers of the night. If a person returns a debt an angel cries out from below the Arsh: O servant (of Allah) from the time you began this good deed, Allah has forgiven all your past sins.

Fulfillment of the Rights of People

When a person has something in his possession it can be one of two cases. The first case is the person knows that whatever he has is not fully his own, but a part of it belongs to someone else. The second case is that a person owes another person, but this person has no share in the actual goods or property in possession of the former. For example the thing he had borrowed is already used up but he is in debt to the one who had lent it. In the same way there are various types of sureties and compulsory maintenance that a person is responsible, for these should be disbursed with great care.

The first case includes the following four categories.

a) To know the quantity and the owner.
When it is known that a particular quantity of a thing rightfully belongs to such and such person, it is obligatory to return that same amount to whom it belongs and in case he is dead, to his successors.

b) When the quantity is known but not the owner.
If the exact quantity owed is known but there is a doubt regarding to whom it is owed to the extent that one feels the concerned quantity rightfully belongs to one of three or five people. Then on the basis of precaution it is necessary to satisfy all of these people. If it is not possible to satisfy all of them, then there are three rulings:
1. Lots should be drawn between them and one of them to be given that thing.
2. The goods should be equally distributed among all the possible owners. 3. If the doubt is with reference to a hundred and more people or if the owner is completely unknown then as a precautionary measure, by the permission of Marja-e-Taqleed the holder of these goods should give it away as charity. (Everyone has to follow his own Marja-e-Taqleed in this matter).

c) When the quantity is not known but the owner is. 
Under the circumstances that a person knows that he owes some of the goods in his possession to a particular person, but does not know the exact
 quantity owed, it is incumbent upon him to give at least a third of the goods to the owner. As a precautionary measure he should give something more and satisfy the owner.

d) When both the owner and the exact quantity are unknown. 
A person knows that he owes some of the goods he has to someone. It is haraam for him to use these goods, but he does not know the exact quantity of the goods prohibited for him nor its rightful owner. He may consider a few persons as probable owners but he is unaware as to how much of it belongs to whom. In these circumstances it is incumbent on him to give Khums (1/5) on the total goods. After this the rest of the goods or property becomes totally permissible. (For details refer to the section on Khums in the books of Practical Laws).

In the second condition something is owed by a person but it is not in the form of a tangible good or property. There are four circumstances of this type:
1) If the exact quantity and the rightful owner, are known, then without any
 doubt that quantity has to be returned to the owner.

2) If the exact quantity is known but not a particular owner, and there is doubt between some selected people that it could belong to anyone of them. In this case it is incumbent to satisfy each of them in the way described in the rules regarding tangible goods. But if the doubt is between a large number of people the value of the goods must be given to the Qazi or given as charity by his permission on behalf of the rightful owner.

3) If the value is not known but the person to whom it is owed is known; the duty of the one who owes it is to restore theminimum quantity supposed and also to persuade the owner to forgo the rest of it.

4) When neither the exact quantity nor the owner is known the law states that an estimate has to be made and the average of the minimum and the maximum amount paid as charity after the permission of the Qazi. 

According to the Quran and hadith, to flee from Jehad is a Greater Sin. It is the twenty-seventh sin. The following verse of Surah Anfaal is clear. It concerns running away from a confrontation with unbelievers when they are less than twice the number of Muslims.

"O you who believe! When you meet those who disbelieve marching for war, then turn not your backs to them. And whoever shall turn his back to them on that day- unless he turn aside for the sake of fighting or withdraws to a company then he, indeed, becomes deserving of Allah's wrath and his abode is hell; and an evil destination shall it be." 
(Surah Anfaal 8:15-16)

Hazrat Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says: 
"Those who flee from the battlefield should know that they have angered their Lord and have damned themselves to destruction because fleeing from the battle causes Allah's anger. And one who flees from the Holy war will be certain to face calamities and eternal degradation and his fleeing will not prevent death, and his life cannot be prolonged. That is, if the time of his death has arrived, his fleeing will not delay it. He will die due to some other reason. On the other hand, if the time of his death has not yet arrived and he participates in Jehad he will not die. Thus it is better for one to pledge his life to Allah rather than live in Allah's anger, degradation and dishonour."

Initiated Jehad and Jehad in defence

Jehad is of two types:
(1) Initiated Jehad
(2) Jehad in defence

The first kind is that when the Muslims undertake a war against the unbelievers to invite them to Islam or for establishing justice. However, the permission of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), the Holy Imams (a.s.) or their special representatives is a necessary prerequisite of this type of Jehad. Since the present period is of Major occultation this type of Jehad is forbidden.

Jehad in defence, as the name implies, pertains to circumstances when unbelievers attack Muslim territories or areas for obliterating Islamic heritage or for plundering the wealth and honour of Muslims. Under such conditions it is wajib-e-Kifai to undertake Jehad and repel their attack. For this type of Jehad the express permission of the Imam (a.s.) or his special deputy is not necessary.

There is a difference of opinion regarding flight from the battlefield. Some scholars are of the opinion that it pertains only to those wars that have been waged against the unbelievers under the order of the Holy Imam (a.s.) or his special deputy. (For example, exemption from Ghusl and Shroud to the martyr also pertains to this Jehad). Other doctors of religion maintain that the decree applies to both the kinds of Jehad. Those who wish to study this problem in detail can refer to the books of Jehad or the books of jurisprudence.

While discussing the prohibition of flight it would be most appropriate to discuss the steadfastness of Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) on the battlefield. Such incidents have been included in discussions extolling the merits of Ali (a.s.). Neither the Shia nor the Sunni historical books mention even a single instance when Ali (a.s.) turned his back to a battle. Even in the battle of Ohud he was the only one who did not flee. In the ninth volume of Behaarul Anwaar, under the chapter of "Bravery" a narration has been recorded from Ibne Masud, concerning Ali (a.s.). Four of those who had run away from the battle of Ohud returned and again came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). They were Abu Dajana, Miqdad, Talha and Musayb. After this the rest of the Ansar came back. Thus it were these people who had deserted the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). All the companions had left the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) alone on the battlefield except Ali (a.s.). Ali (a.s.) was fighting in the midst of the polytheists to defend Islam and the Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.s.).

During the battle of Ahzaab, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) bestowed Ali (a.s.) with the titles of "The vicious attacker" and "the non-receeder." That is, the one who attacks the enemies with vengeance and does not subside an inch. There is no doubt that Ali (a.s.) was imbued with all these qualities. Whereas, history is a witness that other companions like Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman had fled from numerous battlefields like Ohud, Khaibar, Hunain and Dhat-Salaasil. Ibne Abil Hadid the Mutazalite has penned the following couplet in his famous book: 
"It is not surprising that Abu Bakr fled from Hunain.

He had also deserted the battle in Khaibar and Ohud."

The twenty-eighth sin, which is labelled as a Greater Sin, is to become A'araab (Bedouin, gypsy etc) after Hijrat (migration).

It is recorded in Usool-e-Kafi under the chapter of Greater Sins that according to the Sahih of Ibne Mahboob when he wrote a letter to Imam Musa Ibne Ja'far (a.s.) he (a.s.) replied and this sin was included among the Greater Sins. Moreover, Muhammad bin Muslim has quoted Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and stated that he (a.s.) has included this sin among the greater ones. The book of Ali (a.s.) also includes this sin in the list of Greater Sins.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says: 
"Becoming A'araab after Hijrat and polytheism is one and the same (sin)."
(Usool-e-Kafi chapter of Greater sins)

What does 'becoming A'araab after hijrat' mean?

A'araab refers to the nomadic Arabs or Bedouins who are absolutely ignorant of religion and rituals connected with faith. Hijrat signifies the migration of these desert Arabs to the Muslim centre, their acceptance of Islam at the hands of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) or his rightful successor, and their consequent adherence to faith, and adherence to religious rules and regulations.

Becoming A'araab after Hijrat is the condition when a desert Bedouin before acquiring the necessary knowledge of religion turns back to his ignorant ways.

In the early period of Islam it was incumbent upon them to migrate towards the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in order to learn whatever was necessary for being a Muslim. Similarly it was prohibited for Muslims to stay in an area populated mostly with unbelievers; where it was not possible for them to pray and fast and perform other religious duties.

'Why don't you migrate?'

It is recorded in Tafseer Minhajus Saadeqeen that there were some people among the Muslims like Qays bin Waleed, who were outwardly Muslims and had recited the confession of La ilaaha illallah but inspite of this and their ability to do so, they did not accompany the Muslims in their Hijrat from Mecca to Madinah, and when the Quraish of Mecca marched to attack the Muslims in the battle of Badr these people joined them and were ultimately killed at the hands of the Muslims. A Quranic verse was revealed on this occasion: 
"Surely (as for) those whom the angels cause to die while they are unjust to their souls, they shall say: In what state were you? They shall say: We were weak in the earth. They shall say: Was not Allah's earth spacious, so that you could have migrated therein? So these it is whose abode is Hell, and it is an evil resort."
(Surah Nisa 4:97)

The above verse makes clear the fact that it is the duty of a Muslim to leave the place where he cannot adhere to his faith and rituals. In a tradition, the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who migrates from a place to another for the sake of religion, even if it is only as far as the distance of a span (of hand), Allah makes
 Paradise incumbent upon him. (Wherein) his companions will be Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.)."
(Minhajus Saadeqeen)

"Except the weak from among the men and the children who have not in their vigor the means nor can they find a way (to escape); so these, it may be, Allah will pardon them, and Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving." 
(Surah Nisa 4:98-99)

It is narrated from Akrama that many of the Meccans who had embraced Islam were not capable of migrating to Madinah, but when the Quranic verse deploring such people was revealed and they became aware of it; one of them Junda bin Zumra told his sons:
"Even though I have become extremely old and sick, I am not among those helpless people who have been deprived of migration by Allah. I have yet some strength left and I also know the way to Madinah. I fear that if I were to die suddenly, my failure to migrate would be a blemish on my perfect faith. So, you all lift up the bed on which I lie and carry me outside towards Madinah."

Thus, his sons lifted the bed and carried him outside, but they had reached only a short distance when the signs of his death became apparent. Junda bin Zumro kept his right hand on his left hand and said: "O Allah! This hand is for You and this for Your Messenger. I pledge allegiance to You for those things that Your Messenger had pledged."

After this his soul escaped from his body. When the news of his death reached Madinah, some companions remarked, "It would have been better if Junda bin Zumro had reached Madinah. In this way he would have derived the sawaab of Hijrat."

The Almighty Allah revealed the following ayat on this occasion:
"And whoever flies in Allah's way, he will find in the earth many a place of refuge and abundant resources; and whoever goes forth from his house flying to Allah and His Apostle, and then death overtakes him, his reward is indeed with Allah and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Nisa 4:100)

Becoming A'araab after the passing of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)

During the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) it was incumbent upon every person to migrate towards him (s.a.w.s.) to obtain instruction in religion and faith. In case he lived in the midst of unbelievers where he could not perform the obligatory acts of prayers and fasting, it was all the more necessary to migrate.

Failure to migrate and returning to nomadism is decreed to be a Greater Sin and the Almighty has promised Hell fire for such people.

After the passing away of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) it became wajib to turn towards the Holy Imams (a.s.) and to obtain the compulsory knowledge of faith and articles of Islamic acts. Also, it was most essential to attain the Ma'refat of Imam (a.s.) i.e. it was incumbent to have knowledge of one's Imam and also to learn the matters of belief and acts. It was also prohibited to turn back to paganism after the acceptance of Islamic faith. To remain aloof from the Holy Imam (a.s.) even after recognising their position is haraam. Thus, Shaykh Sadooq narrates from Huzaifa bin Mansoor that he has reported from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) who said: 
"To become A'araab after Hijrat is to recognise Imam (a.s.) and then be aloof from him."
(Maani al-Akhbaar)

Since the present age is the age of occultation of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.) the same rules apply to us.

It is necessary to migrate towards the jurist

Hijrat is incumbent on two types of people. The first type are those who are absolutely ignorant of the rules of religion. If there is no religious scholar in the area of their residence, whom they can refer to for their religious problems, then, it is compulsory for them to shift to a place where they have access to religious scholars for the solution of their problems.

The second types are those Muslims who live in the midst of unbelievers, and due to the oppression of these infidels, they are unable to perform their religious duties. It is incumbent on these Muslims to migrate to an area where there is freedom to practice their religion. The Shia jurists have explained this matter clearly.

Order for migration is forever

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has told us: 
"Hijrat is wajib till the doors of repentance close. The doors of repentance will not close till the sun rises from the west." (i.e. the order for migration will be in force till Qiyamat).

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says: 
"The order for Hijrat will be in force till Allah demands obedience from the inhabitants of the earth in the same way as the order was first promulgated in the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)."

It means that Hijrat will remain a compulsory duty till the time other religious duties remain obligatory on the people.

'They could not migrate from Mecca'

In the book of 'Masalik', the second martyr2 writes that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has explained the meaning of the tradition of migration saying that it is specifically concerned with the migration from Mecca. Hence when Mecca was liberated from the domination of the unbelievers there was no need for the Muslims to migrate elsewhere. The order applies to only those Muslims who are unable to perform their religious duties. According to some scholars after the conquest Mecca there was no merit in migration from Mecca; just as there was a greater merit in Jehad and struggle for Islam before the conquest.

"...not alike among you are those who spent before the victory (of Mecca) and fought (and those who did not): they are more exalted in rank than those who spent and fought afterwards..." 
(Surah Hadeed 57:10)

In order to understand the purport of this ayat let us study the following points:

Wajib, mustahab and mubah hijrat

The respected scholar Allamah Hilli writes in his book Mumtahi that there are three kinds of Hijrat (Migration), wajib (obligatory), Mustahab (recommended) and Mubah (permitted).

Wajib hijrat

Hijrat is wajib on a Muslim (not restrained by old age or disease) who lives in the midst of infidels where he can neither reveal that he is a Muslim, nor can he perform his religious duties.

Recommended hijrat

For those Muslims who live among infidels but who have complete freedom to practice their faith, it is recommended (Mustahab) to migrate to another area, if they are capable of doing so. However, if they have some legal excuse, migration is Mubah (Permitted) for them; it is not even Mustahab.

No migration from areas of Ahle-Sunnat

According to Sharhe Lumah and Jameal Maqasid, the first Martyr3 is believed to have said: "It is incumbent for a Muslim to migrate if he is living in the midst of infidels and is unable to follow Islam or perform his religious duties. In the same way a Shia who is living among the Ahle-Sunnat and is not able to perform the ritual acts of Shias is similarly required to migrate to areas populated with Shia people." However this view which is attributed to Muhammad Ibne Makki (the first martyr) is not compatible with the general Islamic principle. Because if a Shia is living among Sunnis he does not need to forgo his religious obligations. He can follow taqayya (dissimulation) and fulfill his ritual acts. He can perform the Islamic acts in the same manner as the Sunnis if he fears for his life or property. We do not have any tradition exhorting such people to migrate to another area. On the other hand the Holy Imams (a.s.) have time and again emphasised upon the adherence to dissimulation under such circumstances.

Support of the Martyr's view

Some scholars have supported the view of Muhammad Ibne Makki who stated the following tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as quoted by Muhammad Ibne Muslim requested to explain the Islamic order for a person who during travel reaches a place where there aren't any stones or sand; all the area is covered with snow and the person becomes "mujnib" (semen has been discharged from him and he has to perform the wajib Ghusl for prayers). How can he do tayammum (substitute of Ghusl) in absence of mud or stone? Imam (a.s.) replied, 
"Let him do tayammum with this very snow and pray. I do not consider it proper for him to again go to such a place where he might lose his faith."

According to those who support the view, since Imam (a.s.) has prohibited his followers to go to a place where it is impossible to perform ghusl and wuzu, the prohibition also applies to a place where it is not possible to perform wuzu and ghusl according to Shia procedures.

However, this is not a sufficient argument because the tradition prohibits going to a place where one is sure to be unable to perform some obligatory acts. On the other hand it is only a possibility that in areas of Ahle-Sunnat a Shia will be compelled to practise taqayya. Besides, even if a Shia practices taqayya and performs the obligatory acts like the Ahle-Sunnat, his acts are considered correct. Moreover, if there is no constraint it may be recommended for him to migrate from the area of Ahle-Sunnat. However, if he is unable to express his love for Ahlul Bayt (.a.s.) it will certainly be Mustahab for him to migrate.

Propagating Wilayat in areas of Kuffar

Samaad says that he told Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), that he was roaming to an area populated by polytheists and that he would have to stay there for some time. Some of the Momineen had told him that it was not advisable to travel there because if he were to die in that place he would be counted among the polytheists. Imam (a.s.) asked him if he would be able to propagate the Wilayat of Ahlul Bayt and invite people towards truth in that place? Samaad said, "Yes, master, there is total freedom of expression and religion. The people there, are receptive of truth." Then Imam (a.s.) asked whether such a freedom was possible in an Islamic area. Samaad said, "No! On the contrary we have to practise extreme taqayya, and none of us can even dare to utter the names of one of you (Imams)." Imam (a.s.) told him, 
"If death overcomes you in such a place you would be counted as a monotheist community." [i.e. he will be equal to a whole community of monotheists; like Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.)]. The light of belief will emanate from your face."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Allamah Majlisi (r.a.) writes in the Sharh of Al-Kafi that it is possible that A'araab means to become a nomad again or to forgo Hijrat after the order of Hijrat has been revealed. Like the prohibition of interest, which came into force only after the Divine command was revealed. Nevertheless, since the early period, failure to migrate without a valid reason or to migrate and then revert to nomadism, both of these are Greater Sin and promised the fire of Hell by the Almighty Allah.

Quranic view of nomadism and apostasy

We have already mentioned at the beginning of our discussion that nomad specifically applies to the desert Arabs who were away from the centre of Islam and could not learn the Islamic rules and regulations, nor could they remember and follow the articles of faith. In this connection the following verse was revealed in the Quran:
"The dwellers of the desert are very hard in unbelief and hypocrisy, and more disposed not to know the limits of what Allah has revealed to His Apostles; and Allah is Knowing, Wise."
(Surah Tauba 9:97)

The Almighty also says: "And of the dwellers of the desert are those who take what they spend to be a fine, and they wait (the befalling of) calamities to you; on them (will be) the evil calamity; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing." 
(Surah Tauba 9:98)

"And of the dwellers of the desert are those who believe in Allah and the latter day and take what they spend to be (means of) the nearness of Allah and the Apostle's prayers; surely it shall be means of nearness for them; Allah will make them enter into His mercy; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Tauba 9:99)

Ignorance of Islamic acts is a kind of nomadism

The above two verses which flay the infidel Bedouins are clear regarding the fact that the nomads were deserving of criticism not because of their being occupants of desert. It was because of their ignorance of articles of Islamic acts and belief. For those Bedouins who followed the Islamic religion, the Holy book has praised them in the third verse. They have been promised Divine Mercy.

On the basis of this, people who avoid learning Islamic rules and regulations and those who keep away from the centres of religious knowledge are in fact, nomads, and the verse denouncing the desert Arabs also applies to them even though they are living in cities.

The respected Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) remarked: 
"Learn the rules of religion. Those of you who do not learn about religion are nomads. As the Almighty Allah says in His book,'Why does not a company from you goes to learn about religion so that when they come back they can warn their people in order they may become fearful (of disobeying Allah).'"
(Behaarul Anwaar, Book of Aql)

Thus one who does not try to learn about religion and articles of faith is a desert occupant. The Imam (a.s.) also told his followers: 
"Knowledge of the Divine religion is incumbent on you. And do not become a nomad. Because if you fail to
 comprehend a religious act, Allah will not look upon it with Mercy on the Day of Qiyamat and He will not purify that deed." 

One who learns but does not act upon it is also a nomad

Muhaddith Faiz writes in Waafi that it is possible that the above pronouncement may also apply to those who learn about the Islamic rituals and practices but fail to act upon them. He also quotes a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) to prove this point. Allamah Majlisi (r.a.) states in the Sharh of Al-Kafi that some scholars are of the opinion that being a nomad in the present time applies to those who after acquiring religious instructions, do not act upon them and remain aloof from Islamic knowledge.

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says: 
"A man says that he has migrated, though in fact he has not. Because a migrant is the one who abandons sins and does not even go near them. And a person says that he has fought in the way of Allah but in reality he has not, because Jehad is the leaving of sinful acts and a war against enemy inside our own self. Whereas many people go out to fight not for the obedience and satisfaction of the Lord. Their motive is only to gain fame so that people may praise their bravery and fearlessness."
(Behaarul Anwaar vol.15)

Desert of ignorance and negligence

From the Quranic verses, the traditions and writings of the Islamic scholars we can conclude that nomadism implies the condition of a person who is ignorant and unaware of Allah Almighty's Nobility of which human beings are capable and the eternal bliss which one can achieve, and instead he is totally immersed in the desires of this transient world. He is oblivious to righteousness and does not refrain from committing any sin or evil. He does not care to acquire knowledge (Ma'refat), nor does he pay attention to good deeds, that would fetch him eternal rewards in the Hereafter. It would surely deprive a person of salvation and eternal bliss.

Hijrat (migration) is the exact opposite of Nomadism. Nomadism after Hijrat (migration) implies that a person migrates to Islam and obtains knowledge of religion and then reverts to his former ways. It can be said that performing some good actions for some time and then leaving them is also a kind of reverting to nomadism. The denouncement is valid only if the person does this due to laziness and sloth and not due to some real hindrance or helplessness. It is necessary to continue to perform good actions once we have begun them. As far as possible we should not discontinue them.

Jabir Johfi quotes Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) to have said: 
"I like to continue good actions so that I become habitual in them. If I could not perform a particular deed in the day I make up for it during the night and if I do not perform an action during the night I make up the following day. Certainly the best of the deeds near Allah are those which one continues. Hence all the deeds of the week are presented to Imam (a.s.) every Thursday and the deeds of the month at the end of the month and all the deeds of the year at the middle of Shabaan. So if you begin a good ritual, keep at it for the whole year." (i.e. continue it for at least a year).
(Behaarul Anwaar)

Neglecting religious knowledge

If a person begins to acquire religious knowledge but later discontinues the same it is considered reverting to nomandism by some. However, it is Haraam only if his religious education is obligatory (i.e. if he leaves it, he will go astray). However, it is incumbent to continue acquiring knowledge till the end of one's life so that one can continue to perform good deeds with sincerity and purity of intention. In this way a person becomes righteous and deserving of the rewards of his good deeds, both in this world and the hereafter.


As the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has said:
"Acquire knowledge from the cradle to the grave."

source : Forty Hadith by Imam Ruhullah al-Musawi al-Khumayni
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