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The Economic Law of Islam
Economic Issues
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

The economic law of Islam has been revealed by the Almighty through His last Prophet (sws) for the purification of the economy. It is based on the Qur’ānic philosophy of creation. According to this philosophy, the Almighty has created this world as a trial and test for man; every person has therefore been made to depend on others for his living. No one in this world can live independently as regards his needs and requirements. A person of the highest rank must turn to the most ordinary to fulfill them. In other words, every single person has an important role to play, without which this world cannot continue. This role depends upon his abilities, intelligence and inclinations as well as upon his means and resources, which vary from person to person. In fact, it is because of this variation that a society comes into being. Consequently, laborers and workers, artisans and craftsmen, tillers and peasants are as indispensable as scholars and thinkers, savants and sages, leaders and rulers. Every individual is an integral component of society and contributes to its formation according to his abilities. The Qur’ān says:

نَحْنُ قَسَمْنَا بَيْنَهُمْ مَعِيشَتَهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَرَفَعْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ دَرَجَاتٍ لِيَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُهُمْ بَعْضًا سُخْرِيًّا وَرَحْمَةُ رَبِّكَ خَيْرٌ مِمَّا يَجْمَعُونَ (٣٢:٤٣)

We have apportioned among them their livelihood in this world [in such a manner that] We have exalted some in status above others so that they can mutually serve each other. And better is your Lord’s mercy than what they are amassing. (43:32)

 By creating various classes of people, the Almighty is testing whether the big and the small, the high and the low create a society based on co-operation and respect or create disorder in the world by disregarding the role each person has been ordained to play. The latter attitude would, of course, lead them to humiliation in this world and to a grievous doom in the Hereafter. The Qur’ān says:

وَنَبْلُوكُمْ بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ (٣٥:٢١)

We are trying you by giving you happiness and sorrow to test you, and to Us you will be returned. (21:35)

It is to salvage man in this trial that the Almighty has guided him through His Prophets and revealed this economic law to cleanse and purify him.

Following is a summary of this law:

1. The Obligation of Zakāh: It is obligatory upon a Muslim to pay Zakāh according to the way prescribed by the Sharī‘ah from his wealth, produce and livestock if he is liable to it.


2. Sanctity of Ownership: If a Muslim has paid his Zakāh dues, then his rightfully owned wealth cannot be usurped or tampered with in any way, except if on account of some violation by him. So much so that an Islamic State has no authority to impose any tax other than Zakāh on its Muslim citizens.


3. Formation of a Public Sector: For the just distribution of wealth, the establishment of a public sector is essential. Consequently, everything which is not, or cannot be owned by an individual should in all cases remain in the ownership of the state.


4. Incompetence: Since a person’s way of using his wealth and property also influences the development and welfare of a society, the state, while acknowledging him to be the owner, has the right to deprive him from using them if he is proved to be incompetent.


5. Usurpation of Wealth: It is prohibited to devour other people’s wealth and property by unjust means. Gambling and interest are some horrendous forms of usurpation. Other economic activities should also stand permissible or prohibited in the light of this principle.


6. Documentation and Evidence: In affairs such as various financial transactions, making a will and acquiring a loan, the parties involved should write down a document and call in witnesses to safeguard against any moral misconduct by either of the parties.


7. Distribution of Inheritance: The wealth of every Muslim must necessarily be distributed after his death among his heirs in the following manner:

If the deceased has outstanding debts to his name, then first of all they should be paid off. After this, any legacies he may have bequeathed should be paid. The distribution of his inheritance should then follow.

No will can be made in favour of the heirs ordained by the Almighty. Similarly, no one can be an heir to a deceased who has severed his kinship with him because of some inappropriate deed or conduct.

After giving the parents and the spouses their shares, the children are the heirs of the remaining inheritance. If the deceased does not have any male offspring and there are only two or more girls among the children, then they shall receive two-thirds of the inheritance left over, and if there is only one girl, then her share is one-half. If the deceased has only male children, then all his wealth shall be distributed among them. If he leaves behind both boys and girls, then the share of each boy shall be equal to the share of two girls and, in this case also, all his wealth shall be distributed among them.

In the absence of children, the deceased’s brothers and sisters shall take their place. After giving the parents and spouses their shares, the brothers and sisters shall be his heirs. The proportion of their shares and the mode of distribution shall be the same as that of the children stated above.

If the deceased has children or if he does not have children and has brothers and sisters, then the parents shall receive a sixth each. If he does not even have brothers and sisters, then after giving the husband or wife his (or her) share, one-third of what remains shall be given to the mother and two-thirds to the father. If there is no one among the spouses, then all of the inheritance shall be distributed among the parents in this same proportion.

If the deceased is a man and he has children, then his wife shall receive one-eighth of what he leaves, and if he does not have any children, then his wife’s share shall be one-fourth. If the deceased is a woman and does not have any children, then her husband shall receive one-half of what she leaves and if she has children, then the husband’s share is one-fourth.

Together with these rightful heirs or in their absence or, as in some cases, from the left over inheritance, the deceased can make a near or a distant relative, aside from his parents and children, an heir. If the relative who is made an heir has one brother or one sister, then they shall be given a sixth of his share and he himself shall receive the remaining five-sixth. However, if he has more than one brother or sister, then they shall be given a third of his share and he himself shall receive the remaining two-thirds.

If a person dies without making anyone his heir, then his remaining legacy shall be distributed among his male relatives according to the principle ‘اَلْاَقْرَبْ فَالْاَقْرَبْ’ (nearest to the next nearest).


 This is the law the Almighty has revealed to us to purify our economic dealings. While following this law in letter and spirit, a person may encounter financial difficulties and he may have to sacrifice his interests. The real reward for this is the Kingdom of Heaven which the Almighty will grant him on the Day of Judgment. However, He has promised that if the Muslims in their collective capacity adhere to faith and adopt a God-fearing attitude, the Almighty shall provide them abundantly in this world as well:

وَلَوْ أَنَّ أَهْلَ الْقُرَى آمَنُوا وَاتَّقَوْا لَفَتَحْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ بَرَكَاتٍ مِنْ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ (7: 96)

Had the people of these cities accepted faith and kept from evil, We would have showered the blessings of the heavens and the earth upon them. (7:96)

 According to the Qur’ān, the Prophet Noah (sws) recounted before his nation this established practice of the Almighty in the following words:

فَقُلْتُ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفَّارًا  يُرْسِلْ السَّمَاءَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِدْرَارًا وَيُمْدِدْكُمْ بِأَمْوَالٍ وَبَنِينَ وَيَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ وَيَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ أَنْهَارًا (٧١ :١٠-١٢)

I said to them: ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord. He is Oft-Forgiving. [As a result], He shall send rain upon you in abundance and give you increase in wealth and children and bestow on you gardens and shall bring forth for you springs of water’. (71:10-12)

The Old Testament says in this regard:

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock – the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. (Deuteronomy, 28:1-7)

After this preliminary discussion, I will now attempt to explain this law in detail. (The verses of the Qur’ān on which this law is primarily based are stated in bold.)

1. The Obligation of Zakāh

 وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَقْرِضُوا اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا وَمَا تُقَدِّمُوا لِأَنْفُسِكُمْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ تَجِدُوهُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ هُوَ خَيْرًا وَأَعْظَمَ أَجْرًا (٢٠:٧٣)

And [in the daytime and at night] establish the prayer and pay Zakāh and [for the cause of your religion and state] lend to Allah a befitting loan, and remember whatever good you send forth for yourselves you shall find it with Allah better than before and greater in reward. (73:20)

 In the verse quoted above, and at numerous other places in the Qur’ān, Muslims are directed to pay Zakāh from their wealth. In religious parlance, Zakāh means the wealth given in the way of Allah to obtain purity of heart and to obtain the blessings of Allah. The root of the word Zakāh in Arabic has two meanings: ‘purity’ and ‘growth’. The words ‘purify them’ in the first and ‘people who will increase their wealth’ in the second verse quoted below allude to these two meanings of the word:

خُذْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ صَدَقَةً تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَتُزَكِّيهِمْ بِهَا (١٠٣:٩)

Take alms from their wealth [O Prophet!] in order to purify them with it. (9:103)

وَمَا آتَيْتُمْ مِنْ  رِبًا لِيَرْبُوَا فِي أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ  فَلَا يَرْبُوا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَمَا آتَيْتُمْ مِنْ زَكَاةٍ تُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَ اللَّهِ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْمُضْعِفُونَ (٣٩:٣٠)

That which you give as loan on interest that it may increase on [other] people’s wealth, it has no increase with Allah; but that which you give as Zakāh, seeking Allah’s countenance, it is these people who will increase their wealth [in the Hereafter]. (30:39)

 Subsequently, this word was specifically used for the wealth a Muslim gives to those in authority to meet the collective requirements of a state. It is evident from the Qur’ān that like Salāh (prayer), Zakāh has always remained an essential ingredient of the Sharī‘ah given to the Prophets of Allah. When the Almighty directed the Muslims to pay Zakāh, it was not an unknown thing to them. All the followers of the religion of Abraham (sws) were well aware of its philosophy as well as its rates and statutory exemptions. Consequently, there was no need to state the details of Zakāh in the Qur’ān. It was a pre-existing Sunnah which the Qur’ān only revived and which the Prophet (sws), on the Almighty’s bidding, established as a directive of the Sharī‘ah among the Muslims. If, irrespective of the differences of the jurists in understanding the concept of Zakāh, the details of this directive which have reached us through the consensus of the Companions of the Prophet (sws) and their practical perpetuation, and which now stand validated through the consensus of the Ummah are studied as regards their bases in the Sharī‘ah, then they can be stated as:

1. Items

Nothing except the tools of production, personal items of daily use and a fixed quantity called nisāb are exempt from Zakāh. It shall be levied annually on wealth of all sorts, livestock of all types and produce of all forms of every Muslim citizen who is liable to it. However, if some need arises, an Islamic State can give relaxation on any item.

2. Exemption (Nisāb)

The statutory exemptions (nisāb) in wealth, livestock and agricultural production are fixed as:

(a) Wealth: 5 ounces / 612 grams of silver or its equivalent

(b) Produce: 5 Wasaqs / 1119 kilograms of dates or their equivalent

(c) Livestock: 5 camels, 30 cows, 40 goats

3. Rates

(a) Wealth: 2 ½% annually

(b) Produce: (i) 5 %: on all items which are produced  by the interaction of both labor and capital, (ii) 10 % on items which are produced such that the basic factor in producing them is either labor or capital and (iii) 20% on items which are produced neither as a result of capital nor labor but actually are a gift of God.

(c) Livestock


– From 5 to 24 (camels): one she-goat on every five camels

– From 25 to 35: one one-year old she-camel or in its absence, one two-year old camel

– From 36 to 45: one two-year old she-camel

– From 46 to 60: one three-year old she-camel

– From 61 to 75: one four-year old she-camel

– From 76 to 90: two two-year old she-camels

– From 91 to 120: two three-year old she-camels

– Over 120: one two-year old she-camel on every forty camels and one three-year old on every fifty camels

(ii) COWS

– one one-year old calf on every thirty cows and one two-year old calf on every forty cows

(iii) GOATS

– From 40 to 120: one she-goat

– From 121 to 200: two she-goats

– From 201 to 300: three she-goats

– Over 300: one she-goat on every hundred goats

4. Heads

The heads for which Zakāh is to be spent were never unclear. It was always expended on the poor and needy and on the collective requirements of the Muslims. However, when the hypocrites in the time of the Prophet (sws) raised certain doubts about these heads, the Qur’ān unequivocally stated them:

إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاءِ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَاِبْنِ السَّبِيلِ فَرِيضَةً مِنْ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ (٦٠:٩)

Zakāh is only for the poor and the needy, and for those who are ‘āmils over it, and for those whose hearts are to be reconciled [to the truth], and for the emancipation of the slaves and for those who have been inflicted with losses and for the way of Allah and for the welfare of the wayfarers. This is an obligation decreed by the Almighty, the All-Knowing and the Wise. (9:60)

Here are some details of the heads of Zakāh mentioned in this verse:

(a) ‘الْفُقَرَاءِ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ’ (al-fuqarā wa’l-masākīn): The poor and the needy.

(b) ‘الْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا’ (al-‘āmilīna ‘alayhā):1 the salaries of all employees of the state.

(c) ‘الْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ’ (al-mu’allafat-i-qulūbuhum): all political expenditures in the interest of Islam and the Muslims.

(d) ‘فِي الرِّقَابِ’ (fi’l-riqāb): for liberation from slavery of all kinds.

(e) ‘َالْغَارِمِينَ’ (al-ghārimīn): for helping people who are suffering economic losses, or are burdened with a fine or a loan.

(f) ‘ِفِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ’ (fī sabīlillāh): for serving Islam and for the welfare of the citizens.

(g) ‘اِبْنِ السَّبِيلِِِ’ (ibnu’l-sabīl): for helping travelers and for the construction of roads, bridges and rest houses for these travelers.

This is all as far as the Sharī‘ah regarding Zakāh is concerned. However, since there exist some general misconceptions about it, the following points must remain in consideration:

Firstly, there is no basis in the Qur’ān and Sunnah for the condition of ‘تمليك ذاتى’ (personal-possession) imposed by our jurists. Therefore, just as Zakāh can be given in the personal possession of an individual, it can also be spent on projects of his welfare2.

Secondly, if the basis of the directive is taken in consideration, industrial produce of all forms, production of all forms based on various skills, rent of various items or buildings of all forms, salaries (reward for labor) and fees of all forms obtained in various ventures must be classified as produce and not as wealth; therefore, the Zakāh imposed on them should be based on the rates specified by the Prophet (sws) for land produce.

Thirdly, according to the above mentioned principle, Zakāh on leased-out houses, properties and other rented items should be that which is levied on produce, and if they are not rented out, its rate should be that which is levied on wealth.

Fourthly, the Nisāb of all items which are analogously linked such as those above can be fixed by the state, if need be, by analogy with the ones specified.

2. Sanctity of Ownership

 فَإِنْ تَابُوا وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوْا الزَّكَاةَ فَخَلُّوا سَبِيلَهُمْ (٥:٩)

If they repent, establish the prayer and pay Zakāh, leave them to themselves. (9:5)

This verse explains to the Idolaters of Makkah the conditions which they had to fulfill to become Muslim citizens of the Islamic state of Madīnah. If this context of the verse is kept in consideration, it follows from the words ‘فَخَلُّوا سَبِيلَهُمْ’ (fa khallū sabīlahum: leave them to themselves) that just as an Islamic State cannot tamper with the life, honor and freedom of expression of people who have acquired its citizenship after fulfilling the conditions stated in the verse, it also has no right to commit any excesses against their assets, wealth and property. If they accept Islam as their religion, establish the prayer and are willing to pay Zakāh, the Almighty bids the state to leave them to themselves and not forcibly demand a single penny from them once they have paid Zakāh. The Prophet (sws), while explaining this directive, is reported to have said:


أُمِرْتُ  أَنْ أُقَاتِلَ النَّاسَ  حَتَّى يَشْهَدُوا أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكَاةَ فَإِذَا فَعَلُوا عَصَمُوا مِنِّي دِمَاءَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُمْ إِلَّا بِحَقِّهَا وَحِسَابُهُمْ عَلَى اللَّهِ (مسلم: رقم ٢٢)

I have been directed to fight3 with these people until they testify to the oneness of Allah and the prophethood of Muhammad, establish the prayer and pay Zakāh. If they accept these conditions, their lives shall be given protection except if they are deprived of this protection on the grounds of some offence they commit4. As far as their account is concerned, it rests with Allah. (Muslim: No. 22)

In the sermon of the Last Hajj, the Prophet (sws) asserted that the wealth of a Muslim has eternal sanctity. Without the permission of the Almighty no one – not even the ruler of the Muslims – has the authority to violate this sanctity. The following subtle words allude to this:

إِنَّ دِمَاءَكُمْ وَأَمْوَالَكُمْ حَرَامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ كَحُرْمَةِ يَوْمِكُمْ هَذَا فِي شَهْرِكُمْ هَذَا فِي بَلَدِكُمْ هَذَا (مسلم: رقم ١٢١٨)

Indeed, your blood and your wealth are as sacred and inviolable as this day5 of yours, this month6 of yours in this city7 of yours. (Muslim: No. 1218)

It is evident from this discussion that an Islamic state has no right to impose any sort of tax on its Muslim citizens except Zakāh, the rates of which have been fixed in their wealth by the Almighty through His Prophets.

This is an unimpeachable directive of Islam. It is this very directive through which Islam not only ends once and for all a great tussle between a state and its citizens in financial matters, but also eliminates the possibility of a state creating imbalance in the national economy by exceeding the resources available to them.

3. Formation of a Public Sector

 مَا أَفَاءَ اللَّهُ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْقُرَى فَلِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ وَلِذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ كَيْ لَا يَكُونَ دُولَةً بَيْنَ الْأَغْنِيَاءِ مِنْكُمْ (٧:٥٩)

And whatever the Almighty has bestowed on His Prophet from the people of the cities, it is reserved for Allah and His Prophet and the relatives of the Prophet8 and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarers so that it may not circulate in only the rich among you. (59:7)

 The context of this verse is that in the Prophet’s times when people demanded that the wealth, land and assets obtained from the enemy against whom no war had been waged be distributed among them, the Qur’ān refused this demand; it asserted that they belonged to Allah and the Prophet (sws) and were reserved for the collective requirements of the state and religion, and for the poor and needy. This, according to the Qur’ān, was necessary so that wealth should not get concentrated among the rich and that it be directed to those sectors of the society who, because of their natural disabilities and lack of resources, are unable to struggle for their livelihood or for some reason are left far behind others in earning for themselves.

Since the wealth and assets referred to in the above mentioned verse were obtained without any real assistance from the believers merely through the Almighty’s help in accordance with His law regarding His Messengers, all of these were reserved for collective purposes. The spoils of war obtained in the times of the Prophet (sws) in various battles fought in Arabia were also owned by Allah and the Prophet (sws)9 because of the peculiar nature of these armed offensives. However, since the believers had also assisted in acquiring them by using their personal weapons, camels and horses as well as food, camps and various other items needed during these wars, it was necessary to give them their due from these spoils. Nevertheless, even in these spoils the Qur’ān reserved 1/5th of the share for these collective purposes:

وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا غَنِمْتُمْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ فَأَنَّ لِلَّهِ خُمُسَهُ وَلِلرَّسُولِ وَلِذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ (٤١:٨)

You should know that a fifth of the spoils you get hold of are for Allah and the Prophet and his near relatives and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer. (8:41)

If the terminology of modern times is used, we can say that it is the purport of the Qur’ān that in the economy of a country a public sector should come into being parallel to the private sector. The reason is that at the state level this is the only way through which a balance can be achieved in the circulation of wealth, and the problem of concentration of wealth in certain sections of the society as a result of the development of private sector can be resolved in an organized and planned manner. 

As far as the way in which this public wealth and property are to be organized is concerned, the Sharī‘ah has left the matter to the circumstances which prevail in a society and upon the general well-being of the Muslims. Therefore, the ruler of an Islamic state in consultation with the elected representatives can adopt whatever measures he deems appropriate in this regard. Consequently, it is known that the Prophet (sws) in his time gave the lands of Khaybar for crop sharing10, left certain lands under the permanent control of certain people for whom these lands had been reserved11, regarded certain lands as Himā12, left certain things to be shared equally by every one13 , fixed the principle of   ‘اَلْاَقْرَبْ فَالْاَقْرَبْ’ (nearest to the next nearest) for using the water of certain springs and canals14 or the way the Caliph ‘Umar (rta) imposed a fixed amount of tribute (Khirāj) on the state owned lands of Syria and Iraq conquered in his times, according to the extent of their produce while leaving them in the hands of their owners15

 4. Incompetence

وَلَا تُؤْتُوا السُّفَهَاءَ أَمْوَالَكُمْ الَّتِي جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ قِيَامًا وَارْزُقُوهُمْ فِيهَا وَاكْسُوهُمْ وَقُولُوا لَهُمْ قَوْلًا مَعْرُوفًا (٥:٤)

Do not give to the feeble-minded the wealth and property which the Almighty has made a means for your support and development. But feed and clothe them with magnanimity, and speak to them with kindness. (4:5)

It is clear from the context of this verse that it pertains to orphans and their guardians. The Almighty has directed us that since wealth has been made a means of subsistence and survival for man, therefore if an orphan is imprudent and naïve, then his guardians while acknowledging his personal right must also take into consideration the welfare of the family and that of the collectivity, and during the time he is unable to properly discharge his responsibilities, they must not return his wealth to him and should themselves take care of this wealth.

This is the context of the verse. However, a further reflection on this verse shows that the basis of the directive is their incompetence and not their status as orphans. Therefore, it can be concluded that if the basis of the directive exists, the above right granted to the guardians with regard to the orphans, by analogy, should also be granted to a state with regard to its citizens. This measure takes care of the welfare and well-being of the society, which must always be kept in consideration. So, if a person because of his foolishness and carelessness squanders away or ruins his wealth and resources, then it is the duty of the state to strip him from their control and management and take charge of them. However, in this case, it has been directed that the state must generously cater for his requirements from his wealth and whole-heartedly adjust all matters. The Arabic words used are ‘وَارْزُقُوهُمْ فِيهَا’ (feed them in it) and not ‘وَارْزُقُوهُمْ منها’ (feed them from it), and these words, according to Arabic usage, clearly point to the generosity with which he must be looked after.

5. Usurpation of Wealth

يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُمْ بَيْنَكُمْ بِالْبَاطِلِ إِلَّا أَنْ تَكُونَ تِجَارَةً عَنْ تَرَاضٍ مِنْكُمْ (٢٩:٤)

O believers! Do not devour one another’s wealth by evil means except through trading by mutual consent. (4:29)

This verse prohibits a person from devouring other people’s wealth through means which are against justice, honesty, fairness and against the good conventions of a society. It is this directive of the Qur’ān which forms the basis of all prohibitions in Islam that pertain to economic matters. Obtaining money through illegal gratification, theft, extortion, lying, co-operation with evil, embezzlement, misappropriation, consuming unclaimed items without publicizing them, all come under it. These evils require no further discussion since they are universally acknowledged sins in every society and in every religion. Transactions and activities which become a source of deceit or damage for the parties involved are also corollaries of this directive. Their various forms which the Prophet forbade (sws) in his own times are:

Selling something before its possession is taken.16

Selling grain bought in mounds before bringing it to the place where it is sold.17

Selling and purchasing done by a city dweller for a villager.18

Increasing one’s bid in an auction just for deception.19

Bargaining when someone else is bargaining.20

محاقله’ (Muhāqalah): Selling crop when it is still in the spikes.21

مزابنه’ (Muzābanah): Selling the dates which are on a date-tree in exchange for plucked dates.22

معاومه’ (Mu‘āwamah): Selling the fruits of trees for many years.23

ثنيا’ (Thaniyā): Leaving an unspecified exception in a bargain. One of its forms, for example was that the seller would say: ‘I sell my grain to you, but I will take something out of it’.24

ملامسه’ (Mulāmasah): A deal in which a person, without thinking, just touches the other person’s cloth and a deal is made in this manner.25

منابذه’ (Munābadhah): A deal in which people throw something towards one another and, in this way, a bargain is made.26

بيع الى حبل الحبله’ (Bay‘ ilā Habl al-Hablah): A deal in which people sell camels by saying: ‘Whatever offspring this camel gives birth to and when that offspring gets pregnant, whatever it gives birth to, then the [last] offspring is bought by me’.27

بيع الحصاة’ (Bay‘u’l-Hisāh): In pre-Islamic times, such a bargain existed generally in two forms: (a) people would make a deal about a piece of land and then the buyer would throw a pebble; the distance covered by the pebble would be regarded as the length of the sold land, and (b) people would throw a pebble and say that whatever thing it touched would be considered as sold.28

Selling fruits of a tree before their quality and characteristics become evident.29

Selling spikes before they turn white and become safe from calamities.30

Selling a commodity which is defective, except when the buyer is informed of its defects.31

Holding the milk of camels and goats in their udders before selling it.32

Intercepting tradesmen and buying their merchandise before they reach the markets.33

Making a deal by giving money in advance such that a person obtains the item after it is ready except if this transaction is carried out for a fixed measure, a specified weight and a definite period of time.34

مخابره’ (Mukhābarah): Adopting methods of crop-sharing in which the profit of the landlord is fixed before hand.35

Adopting methods of crop-sharing in which the production of a particular area of land is regarded as the right of the landlord.36

Selling jointly owned properties without giving the shareholders a chance to buy them except if the ownership divisions are determined and the paths are separated.37

Selling property which lies on a pathway that is common with a neighbor’s house without giving him the chance to purchase it.38

Storing commodities of general use to create a shortage and thereby increase their prices in the market. The Prophet (sws) utterly forbade this and is reported to have said:

مَنْ دَخَلَ فِي شَيْءٍ مِنْ أَسْعَارِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ لِيُغْلِيَهُ عَلَيْهِمْ فَإِنَّ حَقًّا عَلَى اللَّهِ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى أَنْ يُقْعِدَهُ بِعُظْمٍ مِنْ النَّارِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ. (مسندأحمد: رقم ١٩٨٠٢)

Anyone who interfered in the markets of Muslims merely to increase the rates [of the commodities], then the Almighty has the right to make a big fire his abode on the Day of Judgment. (Musnad Ahmad: No. 19802)

These are the various forms of sale and purchase and crop-sharing which the Prophet (sws) prohibited in his times. Since all the above mentioned directives are based on the underlying bases of deceit and damage, the directive of prohibition will stand dissolved in circumstances in which these bases no longer exist, just as if, as a result of evolution and development of civilizations, these bases emerge in some new economic activity, then those charged with authority can prohibit that activity.

Gambling and interest also belong to this category of devouring wealth through evil means. This writer will now venture to elaborate the view of the Qur’ān in detail on these two hideous crimes.


Gambling, everyone knows, is merely chancing one’s luck. The Qur’ān has called it ‘رِجْسٌ مِنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ’ (from among the filthy works of Satan). Obviously, this expression has been employed because gambling gives rise to moral misconduct in a person which gradually encompasses his personality. The reason is that if an economic activity is based on rights and services and rational decisions, it develops a high moral character, and if an economic activity is based on mere chance, fortune and fortuity, it produces an attitude which is based on avoidance of hard work and service. This gives rise to such mean qualities as cowardice and faint-heartedness which subsequently eliminate the innate qualities of honor, integrity, sincerity and self-respect. As a result, a person becomes unmindful to the remembrance of the Almighty and to prayer, and instead of having love and affection for his fellow beings, he has nothing but enmity and hatred for them. The Qur’ān says:

يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ  إِنَّمَا  يُرِيدُ الشَّيْطَانُ  أَنْ يُوقِعَ بَيْنَكُمْ  الْعَدَاوَةَ وَالْبَغْضَاءَ فِي الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ وَيَصُدَّكُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَعَنْ الصَّلَاةِ فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُنتَهُونَ (٥ :٩٠-١)

O you who believe: this liquor and gambling and idols and these divining arrows are abominations devised by Satan. Avoid them that you may succeed. Satan seeks to stir up enmity and hatred among you by means of liquor and gambling and to keep you from the remembrance of Allah and from the prayer. Will you not then abstain from them? (5:90-1)

An important point to note is that gambling in pre-Islamic times was a means through which the rich showed their generosity and helped the poor and needy. In winters, when cold winds blew in and caused conditions akin to drought, the courageous would gather at various places, drink liquor and in their state of inebriation would slaughter any camels they could get hold of. They would pay the owner of the camels whatever price he demanded. They would then gamble on the meat of the slaughtered camels. Whatever parts of meat a person won in this gambling, he would generously distribute them among the poor who would gather around them on such occasions. In pre-Islamic Arabia, this was a matter of great honor and people who took part in this activity were considered very philanthropic and generous. The poets would narrate the accounts of their benevolence in their odes. On the other hand, people who stayed away from this activity would be called ‘Barm’ (stingy).

It was this very utility of liquor and gambling which prompted people to inquire when they were regarded as prohibited items. The Qur’ān asserted in its reply that in spite of possessing this benefit, they were instrumental in producing moral misconduct in an individual, which in no case can be allowed:

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنْ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِنْ نَفْعِهِمَا (٢١٩:٢)

They ask you about liquor and gambling. Tell them: there is great sin in them and some profits as well for people. But their sin is greater than their profit. (2:219)


Interest is also a similar sin that morally pollutes a person as well as the institutions involved in its transactions. Those who lend on interest totally safeguard their capital by not risking it in any way and extort profit from the poor borrower. In Arabic, it is called Ribā and the Qur’ān has used this very word for it. Everyone who understands Arabic, knows that it implies a fixed increase which a lender demands from the borrower just because he has given him the permission to use his money for a certain period. The Qur’ān has vehemently prohibited it in the following words:

الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ الرِّبَا لَا يَقُومُونَ إِلَّا كَمَا يَقُومُ الَّذِي يَتَخَبَّطُهُ الشَّيْطَانُ مِنْ الْمَسِّ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا إِنَّمَا الْبَيْعُ مِثْلُ الرِّبَا وَأَحَلَّ اللَّهُ الْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ الرِّبَا فَمَنْ جَاءَهُ مَوْعِظَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِ فَانتَهَى فَلَهُ مَا سَلَفَ وَأَمْرُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَمَنْ عَادَ فَأُوْلَئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ (٢٧٥:٢)

Those who devour interest will rise up on the Day of Judgment like the man whom Satan has driven to madness by his touch because they claim that trading is like interest and how strange it is that Allah has permitted trading and forbidden interest. Consequently, he who received this warning from the Almighty and desisted [in obedience thereto], then whatever he has taken in the past belongs to him and his fate is in the hands of Allah. And those who repeat [the offence] will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein forever. (2:275)

It is further stated:

يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَذَرُوا مَا بَقِيَ مِنْ الرِّبَا إِنْ كُنتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ فَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلُوا فَأْذَنُوا بِحَرْبٍ مِنْ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَإِنْ تُبْتُمْ فَلَكُمْ رُءُوسُ أَمْوَالِكُمْ لَا تَظْلِمُونَ وَلَا تُظْلَمُونَ (٢: ٢٧٩-٨٠)

O you who believe! Fear Allah and give up what remains of your demand for interest. If you do it not, beware of war from Allah and His Prophet. And if you repent, then you can have your principal amount. Neither will you be allowed to deal unjustly nor will you be dealt with unjustly. (2:278-9)

The reason why devourers of interest will be raised up on the Day of Judgment as madmen owes itself to their expression of amazement on the fact that the Almighty has not prohibited trading while He has prohibited interest, whereas there is no difference between the two. They maintain that if a trader can demand profit on his capital, why can’t a lender on interest demand profit on his capital. According to the Qur’ān, only a madman can give such an insane statement and such insanity demands that its reward be no different than insanity itself. So in accordance with the law of similarity between the deed and its reward, such people would be raised up as madmen on the Day of Judgment.

Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, while commenting on this expression of amazement of interest-devourers, remarks:

It is evident from the objection raised by the interest devourers that the breed of people who regard interest and trading as analogous to one another is not very rare after all. It was found even in olden times. The Qur’ān has not even commented on this foolish objection since its baseless nature is self evident and only sheds light on the insanity of those who raise it. A trader invests his capital in a trade which is in demand from the people. He makes his merchandise available to people through hard work and by taking a lot of risk. These people, in the first place, were not in a position to produce this merchandise themselves, and if they were able to then it was only at a heavy cost. Moreover, a trader spews his capital in the open market for competition and his profit is determined by the low and high trends of the market itself. He may end up losing all his money due to these trends and he may be able to make some profit. So his hands are tied in this enterprise as he cannot earn a single penny of profit in selling his merchandise until  his invested capital enters the market after being exposed to the risks and fluctuations of the market forces and after once again providing service to society.

So how can the enterprise of a trader, who takes risk and provides service to the society when he invests his capital, be compared to that of an interest devourer whose enterprise is mean, callous, cowardly and hostile to humanity in its very nature. He is a person who is not willing to take the slightest risk with his capital but is very eager to extort profit.39

It is because of this fiendish nature of interest that the Prophet (sws) is reported to have said:

الرِّبَا سَبْعُونَ حُوبًا أَيْسَرُهَا أَنْ يَنْكِحَ الرَّجُلُ أُمَّهُ (ابنِ ماجه: رقم ٢٣٠٤)

So great a sin is interest that if it is divided into seventy parts, then the lightest of these parts is equal in its extent to fornication with one’s mother. (Ibn Mājah: No. 2304)

Here it should be kept in mind that the Qur’ān has prohibited only the charging of interest; it has not prohibited the giving of interest. People who have to pay interest on a loan they have acquired in fact suffer injustice at the hands of the interest-devourers.

What also needs to be appreciated is that without any genuine reason a person who acts as an agent of an interest-devourer or writes down its transaction or bears witness to it, must be regarded as an equal criminal on the principle of ‘تعاون على الاثم’ (co-operation with evil). It is narrated by Jābir (rta):

لَعَنَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ آكِلَ الرِّبَا وَمُؤْكِلَهُ وَكَاتِبَهُ وَشَاهِدَيْهِ وَقَالَ هُمْ سَوَاءٌ (مسلم: رقم ١٥٩٨)

The Prophet has severely condemned the devourer of interest and the one who pays interest and those who write an agreement [for such lending] and the two who are the witnesses to this document and has said: ‘All of them are equal’. (Muslim: No. 1598)

The Prophet (sws) has emphatically directed people to refrain from the slightest possible trace of interest while borrowing in barter as well:

الذَّهَبُ بِالذَّهَبِ وَزْنًا بِوَزْنٍ مِثْلًا بِمِثْلٍ وَالْفِضَّةُ بِالْفِضَّةِ وَزْنًا بِوَزْنٍ مِثْلًا بِمِثْلٍ فَمَنْ زَادَ أَوْ اسْتَزَادَ فَهُوَ رِبًا (مسلم: رقم ١٥٨٨)

If you lend gold, then take back the same type and the same amount of gold; and if you lend silver, then take back the same type and the same amount of silver; for he who gave more or desired more, then this is precisely what is interest. (Muslim: No. 1588)

الْوَرَقُ بِالذَّهَبِ رِبًا إِلَّا هَاءَ وَهَاءَ وَالْبُرُّ بِالْبُرِّ رِبًا إِلَّا هَاءَ وَهَاءَ وَالشَّعِيرُ بِالشَّعِيرِ رِبًا إِلَّا هَاءَ وَهَاءَ وَالتَّمْرُ بِالتَّمْرِ رِبًا إِلَّا هَاءَ وَهَاءَ (مسلم: رقم ١٥٨٦)

If you lend gold in exchange for silver, then there is a possibility of interest in this.40 Similarly, for wheat in exchange for another type of wheat41, barley in exchange for another type of barley, date for another type of date. Indeed if the exchange is done on the spot, then there is no harm. (Muslim: No. 1586)

This is the correct meaning of the above quoted Āhadīth. If all the Āhadīth on this topic had remained intact, the scholars of our Ummah would not have faltered in interpreting them. However, owing to the misinterpretation of the narrators in some chains of narration, the words ‘هَاءَ وَهَاءَ’ (on the spot), or similar words in the second Hadīth quoted above, were incorporated in the first one; similarly, the word ‘الذَّهَبُ بِالذَّهَب’ (gold in exchange for gold) of the Hadīth quoted first were put in place of the words ‘الْوَرَقُ بِالذَّهَبِ’ (if you lend silver in exchange for gold) of the second. It is because of this intermingling of words that our jurists have erroneously derived the concept of Ribā al-Fadl from such Āhadīth, whereas the correct concept in this regard is what the following words of the Prophet (sws) say:

إِنَّمَا الرِّبَا فِي النَّسِيئَةِ (مسلم: رقم ١٥٩٦)

Ribā is only in transactions of loan. (Muslim: No. 1596)

It should be borne in mind that interest pertains only to those transactions in which a commodity is borrowed for the purpose of ‘using it up’ whereby the borrower would be burdened to recreate it in order to return it to the lender. If any additional amount is demanded over and above it, then this no doubt is injustice as affirmed both by reason and revelation. On the contrary, transactions in which the commodities and items in question are ‘used’ rather than being ‘used up’ relate to lease, and the money demanded by the owner on providing this service, which is termed as rent, can in no way be objected to.

Similarly, it should also remain clear that whether a loan is acquired for personal, business or welfare purposes, the real meaning of Ribā is not ascertained on these bases. It is an indisputable fact that in the Arabic language the word Ribā, irrespective of the aim of the lender and the condition of the borrower, just implies a pre-determined increase acquired on a loan. Consequently, the Qur’ān itself has clarified this fact: during its own period of revelation, lending on interest for business purposes was quite rampant and these loans were given with the intention of prospering through the wealth of others. The Qur’ān says:

وَمَا آتَيْتُمْ مِنْ رِبًا لِيَرْبُوَا فِي أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ فَلَا يَرْبُوا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَمَا آتَيْتُمْ مِنْ زَكَاةٍ تُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَ اللَّهِ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْمُضْعِفُونَ (٣٩:٣٠)

That which you give as loan on interest that it may increase on [other] people’s wealth, it has no increase with Allah; but that which you give as Zakāh seeking Allah’s countenance, it is these people who shall get manifold [in the Hereafter] of what they gave. (30:39)

The expression ‘…that it may increase on [other] people’s wealth’ is not only inappropriate for application to interest-based loans given to the poor for their personal use, but is also clearly indicative of the fact that interest based loans were generally given for business purposes and in this way they ‘increased on other people’s wealth’ according to the Qur’ān.

It is to this fact that the following verse also points:

وَإِنْ كَانَ ذُو عُسْرَةٍ فَنَظِرَةٌ إِلَى مَيْسَرَةٍ وَأَنْ تَصَدَّقُوا خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ إِنْ كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ (٢٨٠:٢)

If the borrower is in difficulty grant him respite until it is easy for him to repay and if you write off [the debt], it is better for you, if you only knew. (2:280)

Imām Amīn Ahsān Islāhī comments on this verse in the following words:

Today some naive people claim that the type of interest which prevailed in Arabia before the advent of Islam was usury. The poor and the destitute had no option but to borrow money from a few rich money-lenders to fulfill their personal needs. These money-lenders exploited the poor and would lend them money at high interest rates. It is only this type of interest which the Qur’ān has termed as Ribā and forbidden. As far as commercial interest is concerned, it neither existed at that time nor did the Qur’ān prohibit it.

The verse categorically refutes this ‘allegation’. When the Qur’ān says that if the borrower is in difficulty, he should be given respite until he is able to pay back his debt, it clearly points out that in those times even the rich used to acquire loans. In fact, if the style and stress of the verse are correctly understood, it becomes clear that it was mostly the rich who used to procure loans. Indeed, there was a strong chance that the borrower would find himself in difficulty even to pay the original amount. The money-lender, therefore, is directed to give him more time and if he forgoes the original amount it would be better for him. The words of this verse strongly indicate this meaning. The actual words of the verse are: ‘وَإِنْ كَانَ ذُو عُسْرَةٍ فَنَظِرَةٌ إِلَى مَيْسَرَةٍ’. The particle of condition ‘ِانْ’ (if) is not used for general circumstances, but, in fact, is used for rare and unusual circumstances. For general circumstances the particle ‘اِذَا’ (if) is used. In the light of this, it is clear that the borrower in those times was generally affluent (‘ذُوْمَيْسَرَة’), but in some cases was poor or had become poor after acquiring the loan and in that case, the Qur’ān has directed the money-lenders to give them a time rebate.42

He has concluded this discussion by saying:

Obviously, the affluent would have turned to the money-lenders not to fulfill their personal needs, but, of course, their business needs. So what is the difference between these loans and the commercial loans of today.43

6. Documentation and Evidence


يا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا تَدَايَنتُمْ  بِدَيْنٍ إِلَى أَجَلٍ  مُسَمًّى فَاكْتُبُوهُ  وَلْيَكْتُبْ  بَيْنَكُمْ كَاتِبٌ بِالْعَدْلِ وَلَا يَأْبَ كَاتِبٌ أَنْ يَكْتُبَ كَمَا عَلَّمَهُ اللَّهُ فَلْيَكْتُبْ وَلْيُمْلِلْ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ الْحَقُّ وَلْيَتَّقِ اللَّهَ رَبَّهُ وَلَا يَبْخَسْ مِنْهُ شَيْئًا فَإِنْ كَانَ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ الْحَقُّ سَفِيهًا أَوْ ضَعِيفًا أَوْ لَا يَسْتَطِيعُ أَنْ يُمِلَّ هُوَ فَلْيُمْلِلْ وَلِيُّهُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَاسْتَشْهِدُوا شَهِيدَيْنِ مِنْ رِجَالِكُمْ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُونَا رَجُلَيْنِ فَرَجُلٌ وَامْرَأَتَانِ مِمَّنْ تَرْضَوْنَ مِنْ الشُّهَدَاءِ أَنْ تَضِلَّ إِحْدَاهُمَا فَتُذَكِّرَ إِحْدَاهُمَا الْأُخْرَى وَلَا يَأْبَ الشُّهَدَاءُ إِذَا مَا دُعُوا وَلَا تَسْأَمُوا أَنْ تَكْتُبُوهُ صَغِيرًا أَوْ كَبِيرًا إِلَى أَجَلِهِ ذَلِكُمْ أَقْسَطُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَأَقْوَمُ لِلشَّهَادَةِ وَأَدْنَى أَلَّا تَرْتَابُوا إِلَّا أَنْ تَكُونَ تِجَارَةً حَاضِرَةً  تُدِيرُونَهَا  بَيْنَكُمْ فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَلَّا تَكْتُبُوهَا وَأَشْهِدُوا إِذَا تَبَايَعْتُمْ وَلَا يُضَارَّ كَاتِبٌ وَلَا شَهِيدٌ وَإِنْ تَفْعَلُوا فَإِنَّهُ فُسُوقٌ بِكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمْ اللَّهُ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ (٢٨٢:٢)

O you who believe! When you acquire a loan for a fixed period, record it in writing, and let a scribe write it down between you with fairness; he who can write should not refuse to write, and just as Allah has taught him to write, he also should write for others; the one who has acquired the loan should have [the document] written down and fearing Allah his Lord, he should not make any reduction in it. If he on whom rests the responsibility of writing is indiscreet or feeble or unable to have it written, then let his guardian do so with justice. And call in two male witnesses from among your men, but if two men cannot be found, then one man and two women from among your likable people so that if one of them gets confused, the other reminds her. And witnesses must not refuse when they are summoned. And whether the loan is big or small, be not negligent in documenting the deal up to its period. This is more just in the sight of Allah, it ensures accuracy in testifying and is the most appropriate way for you to safeguard against doubts. But if it be an everyday transaction, it does not matter if you do not write it down. And call in witnesses also if you sell or purchase anything. And let no harm be done to the scribe or the witness. If you do so, then this will be a transgression which will cling to you. And fear Allah. Allah is teaching you. He has knowledge of all things. (2:282)

This verse directs the Muslims to document monetary transactions whether in cash or in credit to safeguard against any dispute that may arise. Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī has summarized the directives mentioned in this verse in his Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān in the following words:

1. Whenever a loan is acquired for a certain period, the transaction should be written down in the form of a document.

2. This document should be written down in a just manner by some scribe in the presence of both the parties. He should not be fraudulent in writing this down. A person who knows how to write should not refuse if he is called upon to do so. The skill of writing is a blessing of Allah, and, in gratitude to this, a person should help others whenever the need arises. The need for this piece of advice arose because in those times very few people knew how to write. Formal and legal documentation and registration had not begun and neither was its inception an easy affair.

3. The responsibility of writing down the document rests on the borrower. The document should state the name of the person from whom he has borrowed, and like the person who has been entrusted with the responsibility of writing down, he too should uphold the virtue of piety in this affair, and in no way try to damage the parties involved.

4. If the borrower is naïve, feeble or is not in a position to write down the document, then his guardian or attorney should have it written down on his behalf with justice and fairness.

5. Two male witnesses should testify over this document. The words used are ‘مِنْ رِجَالِكُمْ’ (from among your men), which imply two things simultaneously: firstly, the witnesses should be Muslims and known to the parties involved. The second thing which is specified in this regard is that the witnesses should be honest and trustworthy and of sound character.

6. If two male Muslims having the said qualities are not available, then one man and two women can be selected to fulfill this responsibility. The requirement for two women is because if one of them commits an error the other may correct her. This is not because women are inferior, but because this responsibility is not very suited to their temperament and general sphere of interests and the environment they are used to. Consequently, the Sharī‘ah has given them some relief and assistance in it. This topic is discussed in detail in Sūrah Nisā.

7. People who have borne witness to a document should not desist from giving their testimony when they are called upon to do so because bearing witness to a truth is a great social service also, and as witnesses to the truth, it is a responsibility of the Ummah imposed on it by the Qur’ān.

8. If the loan, whether it be small in amount or large, is acquired for a period and is not an everyday loan, one must not show aversion to writing it down. People who ignore this by considering it a burden, sometimes get involved in severe disputes which produce far reaching results merely because of this slackness.

9. All these directives are in accordance with justice, and they safeguard testimonies and protect people from doubts and disputes. So it is necessary to follow them for the general well-being of the society.

10. Everyday loans and transactions are not required to be written down.

11. Witnesses, however, should be called upon important deals and transactions to resolve any disputes that may arise.

12. It is not proper for a party to harm the scribe or the witness if a dispute arises. Scribes and witnesses do a great social service, and if they are harmed, honest and cautious people will start avoiding these responsibilities and, except for professional witnesses, people will have difficulty in finding witnesses who are reliable. In present times, the reason honest and serious minded people avoid these responsibilities is that whenever some dispute arises in such an affair, the witnesses have to face a lot of trouble and discomfort. They become the targets of defamation, suffer monetary losses and even get killed. The Qur’ān has stopped people from such excesses and warned that this is not a small offence that may be forgiven. It is a transgression which will cling on to them, and they will not be able to save themselves from its evil consequences. This is nothing but an effort to raze down the foundation of the pillar of bearing witness to the truth – the very objective of this Ummah. 44


يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا شَهَادَةُ بَيْنِكُمْ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمْ  الْمَوْتُ حِينَ الْوَصِيَّةِ اثْنَانِ ذَوَا عَدْلٍ مِنْكُمْ أَوْ آخَرَانِ مِنْ غَيْرِكُمْ إِنْ أَنْتُمْ ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَأَصَابَتْكُمْ مُصِيبَةُ الْمَوْتِ تَحْبِسُونَهُمَا مِنْ بَعْدِ الصَّلَاةِ فَيُقْسِمَانِ بِاللَّهِ إِنْ ارْتَبْتُمْ لَا نَشْتَرِي بِهِ ثَمَنًا وَلَوْ كَانَ ذَا قُرْبَى  وَلَا نَكْتُمُ شَهَادَةَ اللَّهِ إِنَّا إِذًا لَمِنْ الْآثِمِينَ  فَإِنْ عُثِرَ عَلَى أَنَّهُمَا اسْتَحَقَّا  إِثْمًا  فَآخَرَانِ يَقُومَانِ مَقَامَهُمَا مِنْ الَّذِينَ اسْتَحَقَّ عَلَيْهِمْ الْأَوْلَيَانِ فَيُقْسِمَانِ بِاللَّهِ لَشَهَادَتُنَا أَحَقُّ مِنْ شَهَادَتِهِمَا وَمَا اعْتَدَيْنَا إِنَّا إِذًا لَمِنْ الظَّالِمِينَ  ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَنْ يَأْتُوا بِالشَّهَادَةِ عَلَى وَجْهِهَا  أَوْ يَخَافُوا أَنْ تُرَدَّ أَيْمَانٌ بَعْدَ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاسْمَعُوا وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ (٥ :١٠٦-٨)

Believers! When death approaches someone among you, and he is making a bequest, the testimony will take place in a way that two just men from among you will act as witnesses, or if you are traveling and the calamity of death overtakes you, then two just men from outside you should discharge this responsibility. Detain them [ – the two just Muslims –] after the prayer, and then if you have any doubts, they should swear by Allah: ‘We will not accept any price for this testimony even if some kinsman offers it, neither will we hide this testimony of Allah. If we do this, then we would be among the sinners’. But if it becomes known that they have proved dishonest, then let two others stand forth in their places from among the people who have been deprived of their right by these two witnesses; then they should swear by Allah, saying: Our testimony is truer than theirs and that we have not trespassed [beyond the truth] in our testimony. If we do this, then we indeed should be among the wrongdoers. In this way, it is more likely that they will bear true witness or at least they will fear that their testimony may get refuted by that of the others. [Do this], and fear Allah and listen and [remember that] Allah never guides the evil-doers. (5:106-8)

In these verses, believers are directed about their wills and bequests with the same stress and emphasis as they are in matters of loan and other transactions. A summary of these directives is presented below:

1. If death stares a person in his face and he has to make a will regarding his wealth, then he should call in two just witnesses from among his Muslim brethren.

2. If death approaches him during a journey, and two Muslim witnesses are not available there, then as a last resort he can call in two non-Muslim witnesses.

3. If there is a possibility that those selected from among the Muslims as witnesses might show some bias to someone by altering their testimony, then as a precautionary measure, they can be held back after a congregational prayer in the mosque and be asked to swear by Allah that they will not alter their testimony for some worldly gain or in partiality of someone even if he be their close relative, and, if they do some alteration, then they will be sinners.

4. The witnesses should know that this testimony is ‘شهادة الله’ (the testimony of Allah). So even if they are dishonest in the slightest way, it would mean that they are dishonest not only to their brethren but also to the Almighty.

5. In spite of this, if it comes to surface that these witnesses have shown bias to someone contrary to the will made by the deceased, then two people from among the brethren of the person who has become the victim of this injustice should stand up and swear that they are truer than the previous witnesses; that they have not committed any excess in this regard and that they will be wrongdoers before the eyes of Allah if they do so.

6. It is likely that after this further measure, the witnesses will not give a false testimony for they will have the fear hovering over them that if they commit any wrong, others will negate their oaths and in spite of being given preference, their oaths will be refuted.

7. Distribution of Inheritance


كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمْ الْمَوْتُ إِنْ تَرَكَ خَيْرًا  الْوَصِيَّةُ  لِلْوَالِدَيْنِ  وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُتَّقِينَ  فَمَنْ بَدَّلَهُ بَعْدَمَا سَمِعَهُ فَإِنَّمَا إِثْمُهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ يُبَدِّلُونَهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ فَمَنْ خَافَ مِنْ مُوصٍ جَنَفًا أَوْ إِثْمًا فَأَصْلَحَ بَيْنَهُمْ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (٢ :١٨٠-٢)

When death approaches any one of you and you are leaving behind some wealth, it is incumbent upon you to make a will in favour of your parents and relatives according to the conventions [of society]. This is an obligation imposed upon the God-fearing. Then if anyone changes the will after hearing it, then its sin shall rest on those who change it. Indeed, God hears and knows [all things]. But anyone who fears partiality or wrongdoing on the part of the person who has made the will, and he makes peace between them, then there is nothing sinful in this. For Allah is Forgiving, Ever-Merciful. (2:180-2)

The verses of Sūrah Nisā (quoted below) which ascertain a specific share for each heir and their placement in the Qur’ān clearly show that the above mentioned directive of making a will for the parents and relatives according to the conventions of society was revealed earlier. These verses of Sūrah Nisā also explain that the reason the Almighty has ascertained the shares of parents and relatives in the legacy of a deceased is that man cannot know who among his relations is near to him in benefit. Also, in these verses, the Almighty has called this ascertaining of shares as His will, against which no Muslim, it is evident, should dare make his own will. The following verse also corroborates this fact:

لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالْأَقْرَبُونَ وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالْأَقْرَبُونَ مِمَّا قَلَّ مِنْهُ أَوْ كَثُرَ نَصِيبًا مَفْرُوضًا(7:4)

From what is left by parents and those nearest related, there is a share for men and a share for women whether small or large – a fixed share. (4:7)

In view of this, it is clear that the verses of Sūrah Nisā abrogate the above quoted directive of Sūrah Baqarah. However, the purpose of this abrogated directive in the words of Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī was:

The directive of making a will in favour of one’s parents and relatives mentioned in this verse was contingent upon the conventions of the society, and was given in the interim period when the Islamic society had not become stable enough to be given the directives which were later revealed in Sūrah Nisā. It was revealed as a temporary directive before circumstances became conducive for detailed directives in this regard. It had two basic objectives: first, to immediately safeguard the rights of those relatives which were being usurped by influential relatives and second to revive once again the conventions of the society in this regard which had existed in the nobility of Arabia but were engulfed in the dust of the age of ignorance (Jāhiliyyah); this revival would pave the way for the detailed law that was to be revealed later.45



يُوصِيكُمْ اللَّهُ فِي أَوْلَادِكُمْ لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الْأُنثَيَيْنِ فَإِنْ كُنَّ نِسَاءً فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ فَلَهُنَّ ثُلُثَا مَا تَرَكَ وَإِنْ كَانَتْ وَاحِدَةً فَلَهَا النِّصْفُ (١١:٤)

God enjoins you about your children that a boy’s share is equal to that of two girls’. And, if there are only girls among the children and they are more than two, then they shall receive two-thirds of the inheritance, and, if there is only one girl, then her share is half. (4:11)

It is this directive of the sūrah which abrogates the verse of Sūrah Baqarah quoted before. It first of all mentions the share of the children:

The sentence ‘يُوصِيكُمْ اللَّهُ فِي أَوْلَادِكُمْ’ (God enjoins you about your children) acts as a prelude to ‘لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الْأُنثَيَيْنِ’ (a boy’s share is equal to that of two girls’). The word ‘اولاد’ (awlād) denotes both the female and the male offspring. Hence, the correct sentence analysis in this writer’s opinion is:   ‘للذكرمنهم مِثْلُ حَظِّ الْأُنثَيَيْنِ’ ([among the children] a boy’s share is equal to that of two girls’).

If this directive had ended on the words ‘لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الْأُنثَيَيْنِ’ (a boy’s share is equal to that of two girls’), then it would have meant:

(i) If the children of a deceased are only a boy and a girl, then the boy will receive twice as much as the girl.

(ii) If the number of boys and girls exceed this, then the inheritance shall be divided among them in a manner that each boy receives twice the share of a girl.

(iii) If there are only boys or only girls, then the whole inheritance shall be given to whoever among the two is present.

The third case is also, quite evidently, an essential outcome of the style and pattern of the verse. If it is said that this money is to be distributed among beggars and a male beggar is to be given twice the amount of a female beggar, then this means nothing except that the money is actually meant for the beggars; hence if all beggars are men, all the money shall be distributed among them and if all the beggars are women, then also the same procedure shall be adopted. But the directive does not end here: an exception immediately follows, thereby amending it.

The sentence ‘فَإِنْ كُنَّ نِسَاءً فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ فَلَهُنَّ ثُلُثَا مَا تَرَك’ (and if there are only girls among the children and they are more than two, then they shall receive two thirds of the inheritance) is an exception to ‘لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الْأُنثَيَيْنِ’ (a boy’s share is equal to that of two girls’). This means that if among the children of the deceased there are girls, then whether they are two or more, their share is two-thirds. The words ‘وَإِنْ كَانَتْ وَاحِدَةً فَلَهَا النِّصْف’ (and if there is only one girl, then her share is half) are co-ordinated to this exception by the copulative particle (harf-i-‘atf)  ‘وَ’ (and).

This writer has interpreted the meaning of ‘فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ’ as ‘two or more than two’. The reason behind this is that before it, the word ‘اثْنَتَيْنِ’ (two) has been suppressed, which is owing to the style and pattern of the Arabic language. If, in the language of the Qur’ān, the share of a girl and of two or more girls are to be stated separately owing to a difference in their proportions, then there can be two ways of doing so. If an ascending order arrangement is adopted, then the share of one girl shall be stated first followed by the share of two girls. If the share of more than two girls is to be the same as that of two girls, then there is no need to mention it in words. After specifying the share of two girls after that of one, owing to a difference in their amount, if a silence follows, then this is a clear indication that the share of two or more girls is equal to that of two girls’. If a descending order arrangement is employed, then again, the words ‘فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ او اثنتين’ (more than two or two) are inappropriate as regards the linguistic style and pattern of Arabic; so after stating the shares of more than two girls, the share of one girl will be stated. In this style and arrangement, the commencement of a sentence by ‘فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ’ bears evidence to a suppression of the word ‘اثْنَتَيْنِ’ before it. A little deliberation shows that the verse readily suggests this fact. The order of the arrangement demands that ‘اثْنَتَيْنِ’ should come after ‘فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ’, while linguistic considerations dictate that ‘اثنتين’ should come before ‘فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ’. To fulfill both these requirements, the Qur’ān has suppressed the word ‘اثْنَتَيْنِ’ by adopting an elliptical style of expression in the descending order arrangement. In the last verse of Sūrah Nisā, these shares are stated in an ascending order. Accordingly, we observe there that ‘فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ’ is suppressed after ‘اثْنَتَيْنِ’:

إِنْ امْرُؤٌ هَلَكَ لَيْسَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ وَلَهُ أُخْتٌ فَلَهَا نِصْفُ مَا تَرَكَ وَهُوَ يَرِثُهَا إِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَهَا وَلَدٌ فَإِنْ كَانَتَا اثْنَتَيْنِ فَلَهُمَا الثُّلُثَانِ مِمَّا تَرَكَ (١٧٦:٤)

If a man dies childless and he has only one sister, she shall inherit half of what he leaves and if a sister dies childless, then her brother shall be her heir; and if there are two sisters, they shall inherit two-thirds of what he [or she] leaves. (4:176)



وَلِأَبَوَيْهِ لِكُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمَا السُّدُسُ مِمَّا تَرَكَ إِنْ كَانَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ وَلَدٌ وَوَرِثَهُ أَبَوَاهُ فَلِأُمِّهِ الثُّلُثُ فَإِنْ كَانَ لَهُ إِخْوَةٌ فَلِأُمِّهِ السُّدُسُ مِنْ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصِي بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ (١١:٤)

And if the deceased has children, then the parents shall inherit a sixth each, and if he has no children and only the parents are his heirs, then his mother shall receive a third, and if he has brothers and sisters, then the mother’s share is the same one-sixth after the payment of any legacies he may have bequeathed and after discharging any debts he may have left behind. (4:11)

The copulative particle ‘وَ’ (and) in ‘وَلِأَبَوَيْهِ لِكُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمَا السُّدُسُ مِمَّا تَرَك’ (and if the deceased has children, then the parents shall inherit a sixth each) does not co-ordinate this clause either to ‘فَإِنْ كُنَّ نِسَاءً فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ’ (and if there are only girls among the children and they are more than two) or to ‘وَإِنْ كَانَتْ وَاحِدَةً فَلَهَا النِّصْف’ (and if there is only one girl, then her share is half); in fact, it co-ordinates it to the whole directive above which relates to the shares of the children. Hence this co-ordination (‘atf) is not copulative (li’l-jami‘), rather it is emendative (li’l-istidrāk) in nature. The reason is that though it is clear from the words ‘لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الْأُنثَيَيْنِ’ (a boy’s share is twice a girl’s), their actual proportion has not been indicated. This linguistic style can be appreciated from an example: If it is said: ‘This money is for the children. Let each boy receive twice as much as a girl, and let the father receive half the amount’, any person who has even a little linguistic sense will clearly understand these sentences to mean that the money is actually meant for the children. If these sentences had ended without a mention of the father’s share, then all the money would have been distributed among the boys and girls in the proportion indicated. But since the father is also to be given half the amount, it is imperative that the father should first receive this amount and then what remains should be distributed among the children. It has been explained above that the expression ‘فَإِنْ كُنَّ نِسَاءً فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ’ (and if there are only girls among the children and they are more than two) is an exception to ‘لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الْأُنثَيَيْنِ’ (a boy’s share is equal to that of two girls’) and explains one of its aspects, as has been pointed out before. If this is correct, then it cannot be taken as an independent clause like ‘…وَلِأَبَوَيْهِ’ (and for the parents …) and it cannot have a different implication than ‘لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الْأُنثَيَيْنِ’ (a boy’s share is equal to that of two girls’). The total implied meaning can be appreciated by an example: ‘In this amount, Omar, Ali and Saeed have exactly equal shares, and if only Ali and Saeed are present, then let Ali receive two-thirds and Saeed one-third, and give ten rupees from this to their sister.’ A little deliberation shows that though it has been said that in the absence of Omar, Ali and Saeed shall receive two-thirds and one-third respectively, an amendment at the end necessitates that ten rupees from the amount should first be given to the sister, and whatever remains should be distributed between Ali and Saeed according to their shares.

The verse under discussion is also of the same style. Consequently, if this is kept in mind, then it is not at all difficult to comprehend that after the clause ‘وَإِنْ كَانَتْ وَاحِدَةً فَلَهَا النِّصْف’ (and if there is only one girl, then her share is half), the shares of the parents and the spouses which are co-ordinated to the shares of the children by the copulative particle ‘وَ’ (and) shall all necessarily be distributed first and whatever remains shall only be distributed among the children. Whether among the children, there are only boys or both boys and girls, the same principle shall apply. Similarly, if only female offspring are present, then they shall receive two-thirds or half (whatever the case may be) from the remaining inheritance and not in any case from the total inheritance.

This is the correct meaning of the verse. Any person, who after comprehending the implications denoted by the particle ‘وَ’ (and) in ‘وَلِاَ بْوَيْهِ’ (and for the parents), and the particle  ‘ف’ (then)  in  ‘فَإِنْ كُنَّ نِسَاءً’ (then if there are only girls) reads the verse, shall spontaneously reach the same conclusion.

Consider, next, the remaining part of the verse:

The word ‘وَلَدٌ’ (walad) in ‘إِنْ كَانَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ’ (if he has children) and ‘فَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ وَلَدٌ’ (if he does not have children) is used both for male and female children. In the Arabic language, this connotation is conventional and customary. There is no contextual indication, intrinsic or extrinsic, to believe that the word has specifically been used for male children. Linguists maintain that it is used in the singular as well as the plural sense and, also, both for the masculine and the feminine gender. In all the cases mentioned, whether boys and girls in the indicated numbers are present or absent, these connotations of the word shall be considered understood.

According to the linguistic principles of Arabic, after the words ‘فَلِأُمِّهِ الثُّلُثُ’ (the mother’s share is one-third) the words ‘وَلِاَبيِْهِ الُّثلُثَان’ (and the father’s share is two-thirds) or words of similar meaning are suppressed, as is readily suggested by the words ‘وَوَرِثَهُ أَبَوَاهُ’ (and his parents are his heirs). Hence, this mention is a clear proof of the suppression. When it is said ‘If the heirs of this money are only Zahid and Ali, then Zahid’s share is one third’, then after this there is no need to say that ‘the remaining two-thirds is for Ali’ – something which is understood by all requisites of common sense.

Also, in this writer’s view, after ‘فَإِنْ كَانَ لَهُ إِخْوَةٌ فَلِأُمِّهِ السُّدُس’ (and if he has brothers and sisters, then the mother’s share is the same one-sixth) the words ‘وَلِاَبِيْهِ السُّدُس’ (and the father’s share is [also] one-sixth) or words of similar meaning are suppressed. The contextual indication for this is also very evident. If brothers and sisters are present, then the mother’s share is the same one-sixth as in the case when a deceased has children. This also bears witness to the fact that the father’s share is also the same and that there is no need to express it in words. If a reader relishes the finer aspects of a language, he instinctively concludes that if the mother’s share has reverted to its original amount, so should the father’s share. Thus, the correct analysis of these verses is: ‘If there are children, then both the father and the mother shall receive one-sixth. If there are no children and only parents are the heirs, the mother’s share is a third, but if there are brothers and sisters, then the mother’s share is the same one-sixth’. One can very well see how this style effectively induces the mind to spontaneously jump to the suppressed words: ‘and the father’s share is also the same one-sixth’.

It is clear from these verses that in the absence of children, brothers and sisters take their place. This view is endorsed by the last verses of the sūrah also, but we shall delay an explanation until these verses are discussed later in this article.

The word ‘إِخْوَةً’ (ikhwatun), in this writer’s opinion, only signifies the existence of an entity. It merely specifies that in the presence of brothers and sisters regardless that they are one, two, or more in number, the parental shares revert to their original amount. Plurality here does not indicate a numerical amount, rather it only denotes the existence of an entity. To quote a Hamāsī poet:

اياك والامر الذي ان توسعت

موارده ضاقت عليك المصادر

iyyāka wa al-amr alladhī in tawassa‘at

mawāriduhu dhāqat ‘alayka al-masādirū

(Avoid entangling yourself in a matter in which if the paths that lead to it (mawarid) are wide, those that come out (masādir) are narrow.)

The poet has used the words ‘موارد’ (mawārid) and ‘مصادر’ (masādir). It will be outright injustice to this literary composition if it is interpreted to mean that it urges the reader to refrain from getting involved in matters whose ‘موارد’ (mawārid) and ‘مصادر’ (masādir) are, after all, three or more. The poet only intends to establish the existence of a ‘مورد’ (mawrid) and a ‘مصدر’ (masdar) and obviously has no intention to convey their numerical amount. There may be only one way of getting involved and withdrawing from an affair and there may be several ways to do so. Similarly, a deceased may leave behind a brother and a sister and they can also be five or ten. The word     ‘إِخْوَةً’ (ikhwatun) encompasses all these different cases. To convey such meanings, a language employs this style of plurality. If it is said: ‘If you have children, then give these sweets to them’, no one will consider this to mean that if the addressed person has only one child, then he cannot be given the sweets, merely because the word children has been used by the speaker. Such a meaning can only be inferred by someone who, instead of appreciating a language in literary perspectives, starts analysing it on the basis of crude mathematical axioms.

The words ‘مِنْ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصِي بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ’ (after the payments of any legacies he may have bequeathed, and after discharging any debts he may have left behind) at the end of the directive imply that if a deceased has outstanding debts to his name, then first of all they must be paid from the wealth he has left behind. After this, a part of his legacy which he might have bequeathed shall be paid, and whatever remains shall be distributed among the heirs. Though the directive of discharging of debts has been stated at the end of the verse, it shall be given priority over all payments. The reason is that a person from whom money is borrowed has a rightful share in the wealth of a deceased borrower before his death, while an heir becomes a rightful shareholder in a person’s wealth only after his death. As far as the precedence of the payment of any bequeathed legacy in the actual statement of the verse is concerned, it owes much to a touch of elegance in presentation – a distinctive feature of Qur’ānic Arabic.



آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَاؤُكُمْ لَا تَدْرُونَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ لَكُمْ نَفْعًا فَرِيضَةً مِنْ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا (١١:٤)

You know not who among your children and parents are nearest to you in benefit. This is the law of God. Indeed, God is Wise and All-Knowing. (4:11)

The reason why this part of the verse is juxtaposed between the ones which state the shares of the heirs is that it should become clear to people that since the Almighty Himself has indicated who the heirs of a deceased should be a more just law in this regard could not have been enacted. Hence, after this Divine Directive, no one has the right to bequeath his wealth in favour of the heirs designated by the Almighty Himself. This distribution is based on the immense knowledge and wisdom of Allah, which encompass all His directives. Man, in spite of his formidable talents, can neither acquire the vastness of His knowledge nor comprehend the profundity of His wisdom. If he is a true believer, he must submit to the Word of God.

This is the real meaning of the verse. However, a little deliberation shows that the right to obtain an inheritance is based on the underlying cause of ‘اَقْرَبُ نَفْعا’ (the closest in benefit). This benefit is by nature present in parents, children, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and other close relations. Hence, in normal circumstances, they will be considered the heirs to the legacy of a deceased. However, in certain unusual circumstances, if an absence of benefit in any of these relationships is diagnosed by sense and reason, then the style and pattern of the verse demands that such a relative should not become an heir to the legacy. Therefore, in such cases, if someone is deprived from his share, then it would be perfectly in accordance with the purport of the verse, to which its words so clearly testify. In view of this, the Prophet (sws) is reported to have said about the Idolaters and the People of the Book of Arabia:

لَا يَرِثُ الْمُسْلِمُ الْكَافِرَ وَلَا الْكَافِرُ الْمُسْلِمَ (بخاري: رقم ٦٧٦٤)

A Muslim cannot be an heir of a Kāfir nor can a Kāfir be a Muslim’s. (Bukhārī: No. 6764)

In other words, after the Quraysh and the People of the Book were left with no excuse to deny the truth which had been unveiled to them in its ultimate form, their enmity and hostility became very clear. Consequently, the benefit of kinship between them and the Muslims stood completely severed. Hence, they could not inherit from one another.

A secondary guidance which is also obtained from this verse is that if in certain cases legacies are left over after distribution and the deceased has not made anyone an heir in them, then they too should be distributed to the ‘اَقْرَبُ نَفْعا’ (the closest in benefit). This is precisely what the Prophet is reported to have said:

أَلْحِقُوا الْفَرَائِضَ بِأَهْلِهَا فَمَا بَقِيَ فَهُوَ لِأَوْلَى رَجُلٍ ذَكَرٍ. (مسلم: رقم ١٦١٥)

Give the heirs their share and if something remains, it is for the closest male [relative]. (Muslim: No. 1615)



وَلَكُمْ نِصْفُ مَا تَرَكَ أَزْوَاجُكُمْ إِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُنَّ وَلَدٌ فَإِنْ كَانَ لَهُنَّ وَلَدٌ فَلَكُمْ الرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَكْنَ مِنْ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصِينَ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ وَلَهُنَّ الرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَكْتُمْ إِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَكُمْ وَلَدٌ فَإِنْ كَانَ لَكُمْ وَلَدٌ فَلَهُنَّ الثُّمُنُ مِمَّا تَرَكْتُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ تُوصُونَ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ (١٢:٤)

And to you belongs a half of what your wives leave, if they die childless. And if they have children, a quarter of what they leave shall be yours after payment of any legacies they may have bequeathed and after discharging any [outstanding] debts. Your wives shall inherit a quarter of what you leave, if you die childless. If you have children, then they shall inherit one-eighth, after payment of any legacies you may have bequeathed, and after discharging any of your [outstanding] debts. (4:12)

The shares of the spouses are very clearly stated and need no explanation. After the payment of debts and any bequeathed legacy, these shares shall be given from the total remaining inheritance of a deceased.



وَإِنْ كَانَ رَجُلٌ يُورَثُ كَلَالَةً أَوْ امْرَأَةٌ وَلَهُ أَخٌ أَوْ أُخْتٌ فَلِكُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمَا السُّدُسُ فَإِنْ كَانُوا أَكْثَرَ مِنْ ذَلِكَ فَهُمْ شُرَكَاءُ فِي الثُّلُثِ مِنْ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصَى بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ غَيْرَ مُضَارٍّ وَصِيَّةً مِنْ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَلِيمٌ (١٢:٤)

If a man or a woman is made an heir on account of his [or her] kalālah relationship [with the deceased] and he [or she] has one brother or sister, then the brother or sister shall receive a sixth, and if they be more than this, then they shall be sharers in one-third, after payment of any legacies bequeathed and any [outstanding] debts – without harming anyone. This is a command from God, and God is Gracious and All-Knowing. (4:12)

The most important word in this verse is ‘َكَلَالَة’ (kalālah). Originally, it is a ‘مصدر’ (verbal noun) in the meaning of ‘كلال’ (kalāl) ie, ‘feebleness and frailty’. To quote a line from Aa‘shā’s poetry:


فآليت لا ارثى لها من كلالة

fa ā laytu lā arthī lahā min kalālatin

(Then I swore that I shall not show any mercy on her because of her feebleness and frailty.)

Mutammim Ibn Nuwayrah says:

فكانها بعد الكلالة والسرى

علج تغاليه قذور ملمع

faka annahā ba‘da al-kalālati wa al-surā

‘iljun tughālīhi qadhūrun mulmi‘ū

(That [she] camel after the night’s tiring journey is indeed like a wild ass whom even a pregnant donkey tries to overtake.)

Figuratively, linguists attribute the following three meanings to this word:

i) A person who leaves behind neither parents nor children.

ii) Any relationship which is not through the parents or children.

iii) All of one’s relatives except the parents and children.


Zamakhsharī writes in his Kashshāf:

ينطلق على ثلاثة على من لم يخلف ولداً ولا والداً، وعلى من ليس بولد ولا والد من المخلفين، وعلى القرابة من غير جهة الولد والوالد. ومنه قولهم: ما ورث المجد عن كلالة، كما تقول: ما صمت عن عيّ، وما كف عن جبن. والكلالة في الأصل: مصدر بمعنى الكلال، وهو ذهاب القوّة من الإعياء. قال الأعشى: فآليت لا ارثى لها من كلالة ’ فاستعيرت للقرابة من غير جهة الولد والوالد، لأنها بالإضافة إلى قرابتهما كالة ضعيفة، وإذا جعل صفة للموروث أو الوارث فبمعنى ذي كلالة. كما تقول: فلان من قرابتي، تريد من ذوي قرابتي. ويجوز أن تكون صفة كالـهجاجة والفقاقة للأحمق.

كلاله’ (kalālah) has three meanings: It is an adjective used for a person who leaves behind neither parents nor children; it also means all the relatives of a deceased except his parents and children, and it also denotes the relationships which are not through [the deceased’s] parents or children. The Arabs say: ‘ما ورث المجد عن كلالة’ (mā warith al-majda ‘an kalālatin: he could not become an heir to nobility because of a distant relationship). Likewise, you say: ‘ماصمت عن عى’ (mā samata ‘an ‘ayyin: he did not become quiet because he was unable to speak and ‘ماكف عن  جبن’ (mā kaffa ‘an jubnin: he did not stop because of cowardice). And ‘كلالة’ (kalālah) is a ‘مصدر’ (masdar: verbal noun) meaning ‘كلال’ (kalāl). ‘كلال’ (kalāl) means loss of strength because of weakness.  Aa‘shā says:  ‘فآليت لاارثى لها من كلالة’ (fa ā laytu lā arthī lahā min kalālatin: then I swore that I shall not show any mercy on her because of her feebleness and frailty). Later, it was figuratively used for the relationship which is not through the parents and children. The reason for this being that such a relationship is not as strong as the one through the parents and children. And when it is used as an adjective of a legatee or a legator it means ‘ذو كلالة’ (dhū kalālah). Similarly, you say ‘فلان من قرابتى’ (falānun min qarābatī) ie,  ‘فلان من ذوى قرابتى’ (falānun min dhawī qarābatī), and it can also be an adjective like ‘هجاجة’ (hajājah) and ‘فقاقة’ (faqāqah) meaning ‘foolish’. 46

This writer could not find the word used in the first meaning, ie ‘a person who does not leave behind either parents or children’ in pre-Islamic Arabic poetry though this usage is grammatically correct.

It is used at many instances in pre-Islamic Arabic poetry in the second meaning, ie the relationship not through the parents or the children.

To quote Tirmāh:

يهز سلاحالم يرثه كلالة

يشك به منها غموض المغابن

yahuzzu silāhan lam yarith hu kalālatan

yashukku bihi minhā ghumūda al-maghābinī

(He waves his weapon which he did not inherit because of a distant relationship. Through it he pierces the part concealed in her thighs.)

‘Āmir Ibn Tufayl says:

وما سود تنى عامر عن كلالة

wa mā sawwadatnī ‘āmirun ‘an kalālatin

(And the tribe of ‘Āmir did not make me the chief because of a distant relationship.)

According to Lisānu’l-‘Arab:

والعرب تقول: لم يرثه كلالة اي لم يرثه عن عرض  بل عن قرب واستحقاق

The Arabs say: ‘لم يرثه كلالة’ (lam yarith hu kalālatan), ie owing to his distant relationship, he did not become an heir, but he inherited the legacy because of nearness and entitlement to it. 47

The third meaning attributed to it, ie all relatives of a person except his parents and children is verified by many examples in pre-Islamic Arabic literature.

A Hamāsi poet, Yazīd Ibn al-Hakam, while admonishing his son says:

والمرء يبخل بالحقوق وللكلالة مايسيم

wa al-mar’u yabkhalu bi’l-huqūqi wa li’l-kalālati mā yusīm

(Man shows miserliness in discharging his duties and after his death, his distant relatives take away his animals which graze in the forests.)

Azharī, has quoted a poet’s couplet:

فان ابا المرء احمى له

ومولى الكلالة لا يغضب

fa inna abā’ al-mar’i ahmā lahū

wa mawlā al-kalālati lā yaghdabū

(If a person is oppressed and persecuted, it is his father who, in his support, is infuriated the most. Kalālah relatives are not infuriated to this extent in such a matter.)

To quote a Bedouin:

مالى كثير و يرثنى كلالة متراخ نسبهم

I have a lot of wealth and my heirs are distant relatives.48

Imam Muslim has quoted the following words in a Hadīth narrated by Jābir (rta):

يا رسول الله ’ إنما يرثنى كلالة (مسلم: رقم ١٦١٦)

O Prophet of Allah ! only kalālah are my heirs. (Muslim: 1616)

Many Āhadīth, quoted in Tafsīr works, endorse this meaning. Abū Bakr Jassās writes in his Ahkāmu’l-Qur’ān:

وروى عن ابى ابكر الصديق وعلى وابن عباس في احدي الروايتين ان الكلالة ماعدا الوالد والولد ’ وروى محمد بن سالم عن شعبى عن ابن مسعود انه قال : الكلالة ماخلا الوالد والولد ’ وعن زيد بن ثابت مثله

In this regard, there are two narrations attributed to Abū Bakr, ‘Alī and Ibn Abbās. One of them says that all except the father and the children are ‘كلاله’ (kalālah) and Muhammad Ibn Sālim reports from Sha‘bī, who reports from Ibn Mas‘ūd that all except the father and the children are ‘كلاله’ (kalālah) and Zayd Ibn Thābit has also reported this meaning.49

Now, let us consider the verse under discussion. Though our jurists have unanimously preferred the first meaning here, yet the verse itself testifies against this meaning. If we carefully analyze verses 11 and 12 of Sūrah Nisā from ‘يُوصِيكُمْ اللَّهُ فِي أَوْلَادِكُمْ’ (God enjoins you about your children), it is observed that after a mention of the shares of the children and the parents, the Almighty has directed us to carry out the distribution of legacy by the words ‘مِنْ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصِي بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ’ (after the payment of any legacies he may have bequeathed and after discharging any debts he may have left behind). The directive is repeated in the shares of the spouses: ‘مِنْ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصِينَ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ’‘مِنْ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ تُوصُونَ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ’. A little contemplation shows that in all these instances the verb is used in the active voice and the antecedents of ‘يُوصِي’ (yūsī), ‘يُوصِينَ’ (yūsīna) and ‘تُوصُونَ’ (tūsūna) are clearly stated in each of these sentences. But in the verse of ‘كلاله’ (kalālah), the verb is used passively. This departure tells us that the subject (fā‘il) of the verb ‘يُوصَى’ (yūsā) ie, the legator in this verse is not stated. Therefore, in this verse, the word ‘كلاله’ (kalālah) cannot be regarded as an adjective for the deceased. The change conclusively testifies that the Qur’ān has not used the word in its first meaning, ie a person who does not leave behind either parents or children.

As far as the second and third meanings are concerned, any of the two can be preferred on the basis of a more delicate grammatical construction, because in both cases the implied meaning remains the same. Hence in this verse the verb ‘يُورَثُ’ (yūrathu), in the opinion of this writer, is from the if‘āl category used in its passive form and ‘كلاله’ (kalālah) is ‘مفعول له’ (maf‘ūl lahū: an accusative on account of which something is done). ‘كان’ (kāna) here is ‘ناقصه’ (nāqisah: incomplete) and ‘يُورَثُ’ (yūrathu) is its ‘خبر’ (khabr: inchoative). ‘رجل او امرأة’ (rajulun aw imra’atun) are the ‘اسماء’ (asmā: nouns) of ‘كان’ (kāna). Keeping in mind this analysis of the verse, it can be translated thus: ‘and if a man or a woman is made an heir because of his (or her) kalālah relationship...’

Naturally, only the deceased person will have the right to make someone his heir. Since the second object of the passive verb ‘يُورَثُ’ (yūrathu) is not stated, linguistic principles dictate that, in the given context, the verse should only mean that a ‘كلاله’ (kalālah) relative can be made an heir together with the rightful heirs as well in cases when a portion of the inheritance remains after it has been distributed among the rightful heirs and also when none of them is present.

Consider now the next part of the verse: وَلَهُ أَخٌ أَوْ أُخْتٌ فَلِكُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمَا السُّدُسُ فَإِنْ كَانُوا أَكْثَرَ مِنْ ذَلِكَ فَهُمْ شُرَكَاءُ فِي الثُّلُثِ مِنْ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصَى بِهَا أَوْ دَيْن (if a man or a woman from the associations of a single relationship is made an heir and has one brother or one sister, then he (or she) will be given one-sixth of what the heir himself receives and if the heir has more than one brother or sister, then they shall share equally in a third of what the heir himself receives, after all outstanding debts are paid off and the legacies he may have made distributed). After this, there remains no need to say that the remaining five-sixths or two-thirds (whatever might be the case) shall be given to the person whom the deceased had made his heir. If it is said: ‘Ahmad has made your son the heir of his wealth, but if he has a brother then the brother shall be entitled to a third of his share’, it clearly means that after the brother receives his share, the remaining money should be given to the son who has actually been made the heir.

This directive of the Qur’ān has a very sound reason behind it. Naturally, a deceased can choose to make any brother, sister, aunt or uncle (the kalālah relatives) his heir. But there can be other brothers or uncles besides the one who has been made an heir by a deceased. The case is no different for sisters or aunts also. A person can prefer any uncle or aunt. But the Almighty does not approve of totally depriving all other associations of the same relationship of any share. Therefore, if a person, for example, has made one of his paternal uncles, Saeed, the heir to his remaining estate in the presence of two other paternal uncles, then the two shall share equally in a third of what Saeed receives, and Saeed himself shall receive the remaining two-thirds.

Consider now the remaining part of the verse. The words of the Qur’ān are: ‘غَيْرَ مُضَارٍّ وَصِيَّةً مِنْ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَلِيمٌ’. These words at the end of the verse serve as a warning that making someone an heir should not be a source of harm for any of the rightful heirs. To dispel any element of foul play, the Almighty Himself has fixed the shares of the real heirs. Since, according to the verse, a person can make any of his ‘كلاله’ (kalālah) relatives his heir, it is emphatically stated that, while exercising this prerogative, the rights of a rightful heir should not be usurped – this is not a piece of advice from an earthling. It is what the Creator of the heavens and the earth has directed us about. If any of His creation deliberately deprives a rightful claimant from his share, then he should be aware that God has knowledge of all his deeds, and, if he errs unintentionally, the Almighty is Gracious and Merciful. He does not burden a person with a responsibility he cannot fulfill. All His directives bring ease and facility for His creation and are not meant to put them through hardship and difficulty.



يَسْتَفْتُونَكَ قُلْ اللَّهُ يُفْتِيكُمْ فِي الْكَلَالَةِ إِنْ امْرُؤٌ هَلَكَ لَيْسَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ وَلَهُ أُخْتٌ فَلَهَا نِصْفُ مَا تَرَكَ وَهُوَ يَرِثُهَا إِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَهَا وَلَدٌ فَإِنْ كَانَتَا اثْنَتَيْنِ فَلَهُمَا الثُّلُثَانِ مِمَّا تَرَكَ وَإِنْ كَانُوا إِخْوَةً رِجَالًا وَنِسَاءً فَلِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الْأُنثَيَيْنِ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ أَنْ تَضِلُّوا وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ (١٧٦:٤)

People ask your pronouncement. Say: God enjoins you about your kalālah heirs that if a man dies childless and he has only a sister, then she shall inherit half of what he leaves and if a sister dies childless, then her brother shall be her heir; and if there are two sisters, then they shall inherit two- thirds of what he [or she] leaves. If there are many brothers and sisters, then the share of each male shall be that of two females. God expounds unto you that you err not and God has knowledge of all things. (4:176)

Since, according to the interpretation given above, all brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts are ‘كلاله’ (kalālah) relatives and a person can make anyone of them his heir, it is possible that he might prefer an aunt or an uncle over his brothers and sisters. If a deceased has children, then the nature of the directive is proper in all respects, but if the deceased has no children and has brothers and sisters, then this authority vested in him stands objected to. It is an unquestionable reality that after one’s children, one’s brothers and sisters among his ‘كلاله’ (kalālah) relatives are nearest to him. Common sense demands that in such a case they should receive a large portion of the legacy. Verses 11-12 of Sūrah Nisā clearly state that if a deceased has brothers and sisters, then the parents shall receive a sixth each. Since this share is the same as what they receive in the presence of children, the question arises whether it has still been left to a person to make the brothers and sisters his heirs, or can he deprive them of a share in his wealth. While explaining verses 11-12 of Sūrah Nisā, it was written that the style of the verses is such that in the absence of children, the brothers and sisters of a deceased should be his heirs. But obviously, the meaning unfolded by a particular style cannot be as certain and definite as the one which is directly stated in words. In the absence of children, the question about the shares of brothers and sisters can even arise today. It had arisen in the time of the Prophet (sws) as well. Jabīr (rta) reports:

دَخَلَ عَلَيَّ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَأَنَا مَرِيضٌ لَا أَعْقِلُ فَتَوَضَّأَ  فَصَبُّوا عَلَيَّ مِنْ  وَضُوئِهِ فَعَقَلْتُ فَقُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّمَا يَرِثُنِي كَلَالَةٌ فَنَزَلَتْ آيَةُ الْمِيرَاثِ. (مسلم:رقم ١٦١٦)

I was sick and in a state of unconsciousness when the Prophet of Allah arrived at my place. He performed ablution and the people sprinkled some water over me from which the Prophet was performing his ablution. When I came to my senses, I said: O Prophet of Allah all my heirs are kalālah. At this, this verse50 of inheritance was revealed. (Muslim: No. 1616)

From the words: ‘O Prophet of Allah all my heirs are  kalālah. At this, this verse of inheritance was revealed’ of the above Hadīth, it is evident that among the ‘كلاله’ (kalālah) relatives the question particularly concerned his brothers and sisters and the last verses of Sūrah Nisā were revealed as a result of this inquiry.

A special style of the Qur’ānic verses is that in them certain questions are stated in a very concise and compact form. The actual nature of the question and its background is revealed by the answer which the verses subsequently give. By not taking into consideration this style, our commentators have come across many difficulties in understanding ‘قُلْ اللَّهُ يُفْتِيكُمْ فِي الْكَلَالَةِ’ (God enjoins you about your kalālah relatives). Here also, if only the answer is analyzed, the meanings the verse convey are very evident. The verse is of the same style and pattern as ‘يُوصِيكُمْ اللَّهُ فِي أَوْلَادِكُمْ’ (God enjoins you about your children). In the latter case, the directive is about the children as the heirs of a deceased while in the former case the pronouncement is about ‘كلاله’ (kalālah) relatives as the heirs of a deceased. The article ‘ال’ (alif lām) defines the word ‘كلاله’ (kalālah) in this verse, which testifies to the fact that the question concerns some specific relations among the ‘كلاله’ (kalālah) relatives and the answer shows that these specific relations are the deceased’s brothers and sisters. Verse 12 of Sūrah Nisā has already empowered a person to bequeath a part of his legacy in favour of ‘كلاله’ (kalālah) relatives like uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters. Here, a particular case is mentioned after the general directive. Considering this, the correct meaning of the verse is: ‘Say, Allah gives you a pronouncement about brothers and sisters among the kalālah relatives’. An example of this Qur’ānic style and construction can be seen in verse 189 of Sūrah Baqarah51.

It should be clear that the words ‘إِنْ امْرُؤٌ هَلَكَ لَيْسَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ’ (if a man dies childless...) do not state the meaning of ‘كلاله’ (kalālah); they merely impose a condition which must be fulfilled if the brothers and sisters are to receive a share in a legacy. Just as in the verse ‘فَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ وَلَدٌ وَوَرِثَهُ أَبَوَاهُ’ (and if he does not have children, and his parents are his heirs), a condition is imposed that if the deceased is childless and only his parents are his heirs, then they shall receive such and such shares. Similarly, in the given verse, a condition is stated that if a person dies childless, and he has brothers and sisters, then their share is such and such. Also evident from the condition in the verse is that brothers and sisters are heirs of a deceased, only in case he dies childless. If he leaves children, then they do not have any share in his wealth except if a deceased makes a bequest in their favour according to the general directive mentioned in verse 12 of Sūrah Nisā.

The shares of brothers and sisters stated here are the same as those of the children stated earlier. Also, the style of the words   ‘كَانُوا إِخْوَةً رِجَالًا وَنِسَاءً فَلِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الْأُنثَيَيْنِ وَإِنْ’ (and if there are many brothers and sisters, then the share of each male shall be equal to that of two females’) bears witness to the fact that these shares also shall be given after the parents and the spouses are handed over their shares. The relevant arguments are presented in the section which deals with the shares of the children. Hence, if the deceased only has sisters, then two-thirds or one half (whatever the case may be) of the share meant for the brothers and sisters shall be given to the sister or sisters.

We have indicated earlier that it is evident from verse 12 of Sūrah Nisā that in the absence of children, the brothers and sisters of a deceased take their place. This particular verse of Sūrah Nisā conclusively proves the premise. It was possible to misinterpret it from the style of verses 11-12, but here all doubts have been removed as to what the words imply. The Qur’ān, therefore, says:

يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ أَنْ تَضِلُّوا وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ (١٧٦:٤)

God explains to you that you err not and God has knowledge of all things. (4:176)



1. A little deliberation on the expression shows state employees in reality are ‘العاملين على اخذ الضرائب وردها الى المصارف’ (those who collect Zakāh and disburse it in its heads). Consequently, this is a very subtle expression the Qur’ān has adopted here to convey its purport. No doubt, generally people have not been able to comprehend this expression; however the construction I have referred to above of this expression unfolds this meaning upon very little deliberation.

2.For a detailed discourse on this topic, see Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tawdihāt, 1st ed., (Lahore: Islamic Publications, 1956), pp. 107-173

3. No one should have any misconception from the words: ‘I have been directed to fight …’ of this Hadīth. The opponents referred to here are specifically the Idolaters of Arabia. Since the truth had been unveiled to them in its ultimate form, the law for them was to either accept faith or face death.

4. For example, they shall be executed or be liable to pay Diyat for murder.

5. ie, the day of sacrifice

6. ie, the month of Dhū’l-Hajj

7. ie, the city of Makkah

8. Since the Prophet (sws) had stopped his relatives from taking a share from charity, a portion of this collective wealth was reserved for them as well.

9. They ask you about the spoils of war. Say: ‘The spoils belong to Allah and the Prophet’. (8:1)

10. Muslim: No. 1551

11. Abū Dā’ūd: No. 3058

12. Bukhārī: No. 2370

13. Ibn Mājah: Nos. 2502, 2503

14. Bukhārī: No. 3261

15. Abū Yūsuf, Kitābu’l-Khirāj, Fasl Fi’l Fay wa al-Khirāj, (1302 AH), pp. 26-9

16. Bukhārī: No.2131

17. Bukhārī: No. 2167

18. Bukhārī: No. 1240

19. Bukhārī: No. 2142

20.Bukhārī: No. 2140

21. Muslim: No. 1536

22. Muslim: No. 1542

23. Muslim: No. 1536

24. Muslim: No. 1536

25. Muslim: No. 1511

26. Bukhārī: No. 2146

27. Bukhārī: No. 1514

28. Muslim: No. 1513

29. Muslim: No. 1534

30. Muslim: No. 1535

31. Ibn Mājah: No. 2276

32. Bukhārī: No. 2148

33. Muslim: No. 1517

34. Bukhārī: No. 2353

35. Muslim: No. 1536

36. Bukhārī: No. 2327

37. Bukhārī: No. 2257

38.Tirmadhī: No. 1369

39. Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), pp. 632-3

40. This directive is meant to put a stop, at the very outset, to ways which lead to the door of interest. Since dissimilar commodities are given on credit, there is all the probability of some increase or decrease in such barter transactions; the Prophet (sws) therefore prohibited them.

41. This translation is in accordance with the copulative relation of this sentence to the previous one. The words ‘الْوَرَقُ بِالذَّهَبِ’ (if you lend silver in exchange for gold) in which two different commodities are mentioned entail that the wheat mentioned in this expression be of two different categories also.

42. Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 638-9

43. Ibid., p. 639

44. Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), pp. 640-2

45. Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), pp. 439-40

46.Zamakhsharī, Kashshāf, vol 1, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Kitāb al-‘Arabī), p. 485

47. Ibn Manzūr, Lisān al-‘Arab, 1st ed., vol. 11, (Beirut: Dār Sādir, 1400 AH), p. 592

48. 48. Ibid.>

49. Abū Bakr Jassās Ahkāmu’l-Qur’ān, vol. 2, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Kitāb al-‘Arabī, 1997), p. 87

50. It has been explained in the Āhadīth that by ‘this verse of inheritance’ is meant the last verses of Sūrah Nisā in which the shares of the brothers and sisters are stated. Likewise, some other Āhadīth clearly mention that Jābir (rta) had only sisters among his heirs.

51. See Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 471

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