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Thursday 25th of July 2024
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KHAYANAT

The twenty-second greater sin, is defalcation or misappropriation of property. Misappropriation of property as a greater sin is stated in the Quran and the authentic tradition related by Abdul Azeem from Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) and also from the traditions of Imam Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Kazim (a.s.) and Imam Reza (a.s.).

Khayanat is itself an Arabic word. In the tradition of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as related by Amash the word 'Khayanat' is used in the list of the greater sins. Another Arabic word used for misappropriation is 'ghulul.' 'Ghulul' is used in the narration of Fazl Ibne Shazaan where he quotes Imam Reza (a.s.). According to some lexicographers 'ghul' denotes misappropriation of a property obtained as spoils of war against the disbelievers which is not yet been distributed among the Muslims. However other scholars maintain that 'ghulul' applies to every kind of embezzlement.

The punishment of misappropriation according to the Holy Quran

The Almighty Allah says "...and he who eats unfaithfully shall bring that in respect of which he has acted unfaithfully on the Day of Resurrection; then every soul be paid fully what it has earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly. Is then he who follows the pleasure of Allah like him who has made himself deserving of displeasure from Allah, and his abode is hell; and it is an evil destination."
(Surah Aale Imraan 3:161-162)

In Surah Tahrim we find the verse:
"Allah sets forth an example to those who disbelieve, the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut: they were both under two of Our righteous servants, but they acted treacherously towards them so they availed them naught against Allah, and it was said: Enter both the fire with those who enter."
(Surah Tahrim 66:10)

Also Allah (a.j.) says:
"… Surely Allah does not love the treacherous."
(Surah Anfal 8:58)

and
"O you who believe! Be not unfaithful to Allah and the Apostle, nor be unfaithful to your trusts while you know."
(Surah Anfal 8:27)

Similarly the Quran says,
"…but if one of you trusts another, then he who is trusted should deliver his trusts, and let him be careful (of his duty to) Allah, his Lord..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:283)

At another place the Divine Book states,
"Surely Allah commands you to make over trusts to their owners..."
(Surah Nisa 4:58)

Breach of trust denounced in the traditions

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who embezzles a property in his charge and does not deliver it to its owner and dies in such a condition, then he does not die in my community (he does not die a Muslim). When such a person meets Allah, He shall be infuriated with him. And one who purchases an embezzled property knowing that it is embezzled is just like the (actual) embezzler."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Another tradition states,
"And it will be ordered to throw him in the fire; he will remain in the deep pit of Hell forever."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is also reported to have remarked,
"If one is Muslim, he must not practice deceit and defalcation. For I have heard from Jibraeel that deceit and cheating belong to hell."

Then he (s.a.w.s.) continued,
"One who cheats a Muslim is not from us, and one who embezzles the believers is (also) not from us."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The following tradition is recorded in the book Al Kafi:
"There are three qualities that are the sign of a hypocrite even if he prays and fasts and calls himself a Muslim: lying, violating promises and defalcation."

This tradition had already been mentioned in the previous discussion.

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says;
"There are four things and even if one of them enters a house it causes economic catastrophe and it never remains blessed: defalcation, thievery, wine and adultery.
(Wasaelush Shia)

Thus if one or more members of a household indulge in one of these sins, such a household is deprived from divine blessings. It brings about an economic ruin. It must also be clarified, however, that the house of the thief is deprived of 'barakat' (divine blessings) and not the site where robbery occurs.

Misappropriation causes misfortune

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) remarks,
"Trustworthiness causes one to be self sufficient (financially) and misappropriation causes poverty."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The narrator says that I said to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.),
"There is a lady in Madinah, with whom people leave their daughters for training (and education). We have observed that she could maintain herself with so less, but we have never known her to have any financial problem."

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) remarked,
"It is because she is truthful and trustworthy. These two qualities increase sustenance."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Another tradition from the same Imam (a.s.) is as follows:
"Do not be deceived by the prolonged sajda and rukoo of a man, they may be a part of his habits (that he could not avoid). See his truth and trustworthiness."

Thus it is these qualities that prove righteousness and piety.

Anyone could be the owner of the entrusted property

We have numerous traditions dealing with this subject. They emphatically state that it is wajib to guard the trust and haraam to misappropriate it, whether the one who entrusts it, is a Muslim or a Kafir. It is even wajib to protect the goods entrusted by a Nasibi (those are openly inimical to Ahlul Bayt a.s.) in spite of the fact that the Nasibi are the worst kind of people.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Fear Allah! And return the entrusted thing to the owner. Even if the murderer of Ali (a.s.) entrusts me with something, I shall deliver it to him (when he desires)."

Imam (a.s.) also says,
"Then fear Allah! And guard the trusts (placed by) the white as well as the black (people). Even if the one who entrusts is from the Khwarij or a Syrian (those who hate Ali [a.s.])." That is, even if he is a confirmed enemy of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).

A man inquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.),
"Is it allowed to misappropriate the property of a Nasibi?"

Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Honour the trust of every person who entrusts you with it, or seeks your advice. Even if it is the killer of Imam Husain (a.s.)."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Another similar narration is as follows:
Husain Shabani says that he asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "One of your followers considers the property and blood of Bani Umayya permissible for himself. He is also in possession of some property entrusted to him by the Bani Umayya?"

Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Restore the entrusted property to its owner even if they are Majoos (fireworshippers)."

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is also reported to have said,
"Allah has not sent any messenger but with (the order to propagate) truth and restoring of trust, whether of a righteous man or a sinner."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Muhammad Bin Qasim says that he mentioned to Abul Hasan, Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) regarding the person who had entrusted someone with something valuable. "The trustee is an Arab and he is competent enough not to return the trust. Whereas the one who entrusts is a wretched Khariji (enemy of Ahlul Bayt)?"

Imam (a.s.) said,
"Tell him to return the trust; because it is a divine trust that he is entrusted with." (Meaning that it is a trust, which is to be restored according to divine command).

Hazrat Imam Zainul Abedin (a.s.) advises his Shias:
"You must return the trusts when required. By the One who has sent Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) as a messenger with trust, even if the killer of my father Husain (a.s.) had entrusted me with the sword with which he had slain him, I would have delivered it back to him."

The Satan instigates

The greater the importance of a duty in Islamic law, the greater is the effect put in by Shaitan to deviate a person from fulfilling it.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"If a person makes good the trust in his possession, he unties a thousand knots that had tied him to Hell. So, do not be sluggish in delivering trusts. When one becomes a trustee, Iblees orders a hundred of his assistants to follow him so that they may deviate him and suggest him to defalcate. They continue to pursue him till he is doomed. Except the one who is saved by Allah (a.j.)."

Ameen (Trustworthy) - A Title of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)

Every historian has recorded that even prior to the declaration of his prophethood, the disbelievers of Quraish addressed the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) by the title of 'Ameen'. The disbelievers trusted him to the extent that even though they did not heed his call and did not profess Islam, they deposited their valuables with him. The trust in the Prophet's trustworthiness was not restricted to the Quraish tribe, but was shared by the people of other tribes and areas as well. When these people came to Mecca during the Hajj season they used to put their belongings in the safe custody of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). This continued after the declaration of prophethood. When the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) migrated to Madinah he gave all the things that were in his custody to Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and said:
"Proclaim loudly, every morning and evening in Mecca that whoever had kept anything with Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) may collect it."

  the opposite of safekeeping is of three types: Breach of trust with Allah, with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and with people.

1. The trust of Allah

"Surely We offered the trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to be unfaithful to it and feared from it, and man has turned unfaithful to it; surely he is unjust, ignorant."
(Surah Ahzaab 33:72)

What is meant by Divine trust? The scholars have a variety of opinions in this regard. Some opine that it denotes the grace of intellect given by Allah (a.j.). The safeguarding of this trust (intellect) means that man should employ it to recognise and obey his Creator. According to other scholars this trust consists of the laws of Islam that Allah has sent through His Prophet (s.a.w.s.). These laws are a Divine trust. To guard these laws means to obey them faithfully. It is obvious that the heaven, the earth and the mountains did not possess the ability to protect these trusts and hence they refrained from accepting them. Man was competent to obey the command of his creator and therefore he accepted the trust. But he allows his emotions to subvert his intellect and permits his desires to override reason. He therefore ignores the laws he had agreed to obey oblivious of divine retribution. This is breach of trust with Allah (a.j.).

The blessings of intellect and trustworthiness

Intellect or the faculty of reasoning is one of the greatest trusts that Allah has bestowed upon man and this trust demands that man continually honours it. We must not say or do anything that is against reason. If we allow our desire to conquer reason we would have committed a breach of trust with Allah (a.j.).

As regards the safekeeping of trust with reference to the rules of Shariat,
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) says:
"Misappropriating the trust of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is their disobedience. As far as the breach of trust is concerned, every person is the trustee of the laws revealed by Allah."
(Tafseer Safi)

It is clear from this tradition that the Divine laws promulgated for men are Allah's trust. The safekeeping of these trusts means the acceptance of these laws and implicit obedience to them. Every individual is expected to study these rules of Shariat and not to remain ignorant of these. Every individual has to make a point to learn and understand the obligations and be fully conversant with all the laws governing every aspect of his or her life. After learning these laws the individual is further obliged to accept them and follow them in all sincerity.

It is said that when it was the time for prayers, Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) became fearful and restless and his face became pale. People were dazed to see him thus, and asked him the reason for it. He replied,
"It is the time for prayers! It is the time of delivering the trust that Allah had offered to the heavens, the earth and the mountains, which they had refused. This is what I fear!"

However, this is not restricted to prayers. All the laws of Shariat are the trust of Allah and prayers occupy a lofty position among them.

Propagating the laws of religion

It is pathetic that most of the people of our time are committing breach of Divine trust. People are so engrossed in the materialistic world that they have no time to learn the basic laws of religion, or to act upon them. Day by day religion is given less and less importance although more than before, the need of the day is that people should learn about religion and propagate it to others. We must ourselves act upon the laws of Shariat faithfully and also exhort others to do the same.

2. Trust of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)

Both Shias as well as Sunnis agree that before his passing away the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) had said,
"I leave among you two weighty things, the Book of Allah and my Progeny."

The Prophet's words after this, according to history are,
"On the Day of Qiyamat I will question you concerning them (as to how you have safeguarded them)"

According to Tafseer Majmaul Bayan: The Quran and the Progeny have been referred to as "two weighty things" because to follow them is a very difficult task indeed. A true Muslim is one who is able to carry the weight of this responsibility. A Muslim must obey the Quranic orders and follow the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). Alas! The followers of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) did not safeguard the important trusts.

"And the Apostle cried out: O my Lord! Surely my people have treated this Quran as a forsaken thing."
(Surah Furqan 25:30)

May Allah not include us in that majority of people about whom the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) shall complain to Allah.

Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) are the Trust of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)

Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) are themselves a trust that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has left with us. To honour this trust is to love them (Ahlul Bayt), and believe in their truth with sincerity. We must obey their commands because their orders are the commands of Allah (a.j.) and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). They are the Hujjat (proof) of Allah. By sending them to us Allah has completed His proof, so we cannot say that there was no one to lead us after the death of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). The Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) are the link between Allah and us. We must also respect the Sadaat (the sayyeds) as they are from the Progeny of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), and fulfill their needs, for in this way we would be safeguarding the trust of their ancestors. On one hand the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) are the trustees of Divine laws from the time of the Prophet's death till the Day of Judgement, on the other hand they themselves (a.s.) are a valuable trust of the Prophet with us, like the Holy Quran. One of their rights upon us is that we consider their grief and sorrow as our own, rejoice in their happiness and joy and honour them by going for Ziarat to their holy shrines.

3. Trust of the people

Trust of the people is divided into two categories:
(1) Trust of Property and
(2) Trust of the Shariat.

The first one denotes any goods or property that a person keeps with someone for safe custody. This can be in various forms. Sometimes one keeps a valuable with another person solely for its safekeeping. Sometimes a thing is given for use but it must be returned after the use is over. This is also known as Ariya or Musta'ar. Another form of trust is when a particular thing is given on hire and its rent is collected, for example a house.

A loan is also a trust. Sometimes a valuable is pledged as the surety for some loan. If the loan taken against this surety is not repaid this item is sold to recover the dues. In the same way in transactions of Mudarabba (partnership) the property given out for trading is also a trust.

Trusts of Shariat

By trust of Shariat we mean property which is in possession of a person who is not its actual owner. This property may not have been handed over to him by the owner, but he may come to acquire it through circumstances. For example, a strong wind blows a cloth from a house to the neighbours, or someone's lost domestic animal may stray into somebody's house, or one may buy something and find later that the seller has given an extra item by mistake, or the client may pay the seller more than the prescribed rate, or one may find some money on the way, or one may come to acquire some stolen goods or those belonging to someone else. All these things are considered as trusts according to Shariat. It is wajib to restore them to the rightful owners, those who have them in their possession should not use such items. Another example of such a trust is a letter addressed to another person. It is wajib upon the person to send it to its rightful addressee. It is haraam to open or read a letter addressed to someone else.

Misappropriating other's property

If one is in possession of a person's property through circumstances, it is haraam to embezzle it. As we have already stated, misappropriation is a greater sin.

Misappropriation is a compound of three sins:
(1) Injustice
(2) Disregard of an obligatory act and
(3) Illegally using someone's property

Illegally using someone's property

It is a sort of injustice to use the property or a thing belonging to someone else without his permission. It is haraam even to borrow something without the permission of the owner. It is haraam to use the thing even for a moment. In fact, even displacing a thing without permission is haraam when there is no valid excuse.

A person using an article without the owner's permission has to give it back immediately or ask permission for its use. If any damage has occurred to the property the user has to make good the loss.

If one expects that the owner will permit the use of his property, then its use without permission is allowed. But the user will have to compensate in case there is any damage to the property.

A user is not accountable if a property is damaged despite his best toil to safeguard it, but he will be responsible if the damage is the result of his carelessness.

The 91st verse of Surah Tauba says,
"…there is no way (to blame) against the doers of good..."

According to this ayat the trustee who has done a good deed by guarding a property will not be liable for any loss or damage. The one who entrusts has no lawful recourse against the trustee.

Carelessness in guarding the trust

A trustee shall be made to pay for any loss or damage that occurs to the good entrusted to him, if he has not taken reasonable take of the goods or has kept them in an unsafe place. It is also not allowed to hand over the property in ones trust to someone else for safekeeping without the owner's permission. If the trust is transferred to another person and a loss occurs, then the first trustee shall be held responsible. It will amount to a sort of carelessness on his part. Even if he considers someone else to be a better trustee he cannot move the goods to him without the permission of the owner. In the same way the trustee cannot carry the trust with him when he goes on a journey. The owner's permission has to be sought in this case also. If the trustee intends to travel, he can keep the property in a safe place, or he can hand it over to another person only with the permission of the owner. However if there is a risk of loss or damage in his absence he must return the trust to its owner or his representatives. If the owner or his representatives are not available, he can surrender the trust property to the Mujtahid or the religious judge or he may avoid travel altogether. But if the journey is more important than the safe-keeping of this trust, and the owner nor representative nor a Mujtahid is available then he can, to ensure its security keep it with someone reliable. He may even carry it with himself on the journey in such circumstances.

If one is sure that he will not be able to take care of the trust, it is wajib for him to refuse to accept it. If such a person has already taken it, it is wajib for him to return it but if in spite of his inability to safeguard the trust property, the owner insists on handing it to him he is allowed to accept it. In this case the trustee cannot be held responsible, and the owner would bear the loss in the event of the goods being lost or damaged. Even if one is compelled to be a trustee against one wishes, it is better to take care of the goods entrusted, as a moral obligation.

It is apparent that this transaction (of one who entrusts and the trustee) is a legal transaction. Either party may terminate the agreement whenever he or she desires. That is, the owner may ask for his property whenever he likes. In the same way the trustee can return the goods in his trust to the owner whenever he wishes. However, it is wajib for the trustee to return the trust when the owner demands it and the one who entrusts cannot insist upon the trustee to continue to safeguard his goods when he (the trustee) wishes to relieve himself of the responsibility.

Delay in returning the trust

Under special circumstances it is permitted to appropriate the property of a Kafir, not living under the protection of Islamic government. But if such a person gives his property as a trust, it is not permitted to misappropriate this property. If the property to be entrusted is stolen or acquired by illegal means, it is wajib to accept it and restore it to its rightful owner.

As we have already mentioned, anything that is maintained as trust must be restored to the owner or his representative; like some responsible member of his family, if they are not available, the trust could be given in charge of a Mujtahid or his representative. If even these are not available the trust must be handed over to a reliable person. Especially when one perceives the approach of death one should immediately arrange to return the trusts. If none of the above persons are available then it is wajib upon the dying person to make a will and provide the address of the owner so that the property may be restored to him.

In the same way if the owner learns that the trustee is dead, it is wajib for him to go and collect the things that he had deposited as trust. If the heirs of the deceased do not recognise him he can describe the distinguishing features of the trust property and obtain it from them. Similarly if the owner dies, the trustee is under obligation to return the trust to the heirs of the deceased. 


source : GREATER SINS Volume 2 Shaheede Mehraab Ayatullah-ul-Uzma Al-Haaj Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.) Translated By: Syed Athar Husain S.H. Rizvi
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