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Thursday 18th of April 2024
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The burden of Khayanat and the Day of Judgement

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has said,
"Beware! One should not commit Khayanat of even one camel! Otherwise, he will be summoned on the Day of Qiyamat riding the same camel and bleating like a camel.

Beware! One should not commit Khayanat of even one horse! Otherwise he will be summoned on the Day of Qiyamat riding the same horse and neighing like a horse.

He will be calling me for help, 'O Muhammad! O Muhammad!' I will tell him that I had already warned him. Now I have no responsibility concerning him against Allah."
(Al Kafi)

Allamah Majlisi has recorded a tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.):
"You must return even a needle and thread. For Khayanat will cause untold degradation and exposure of defects on the Day of Qiyamat."

A man came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) with a needle that he had taken without permission. He said, "I had taken this needle to sew a pack saddle for my camel."

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told him,
"If this needle belongs to me I have forgiven you. However, if it belongs to the other Muslims you must pay for it so that it could be included in the public treasury for equal distribution."

"I was not aware that it was such a serious matter," the Arab remarked, "If it is so, I will not keep the needle with me." He handed over the needle to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and went away.

The guilty shall be recognised by their marks

According to Allamah Majlisi, on the Day of Qiyamat the sinner shall carry the pilfered property on his shoulders. Every type of sinner will have specific distinguishing marks, by which everyone will know what sin the sinner had committed. One who commits a greater sin and dies without repenting for it, the Almighty Allah will deal with him with justice on the Day of Qiyamat. So much so that the mark of the sin that he committed most will be attached to him. For example, the drunkard will be holding a wine bottle, the terrible stench of which will cause discomfort to the people. Similarly, the musician will have the instrument stuck to his hands. The gamblers will be having the instrument of gambling with them. The same thing is alluded to in the verse:
"The guilty shall be recognised by their marks."
(Surah Rahman 55:41)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and his trustworthiness

One day a poor man came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and told him of his poverty. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"Sit down! Allah is most Powerful."

Another beggar came and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told him to sit down too. Then a third destitute arrived and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told him also to sit down. After some time a person came and presented four saa (approximately 12 kilos) of wheat as Zakat to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) distributed one saa (3kilos) of wheat to each of the poor men. One saa of it remained. After the Maghrib and Isha prayers the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) announced that a saa of wheat is remaining with him. Any needy person can come and collect it from him; but no one came forward. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was compelled to take this trust home. Ayesha says that, that night the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was very restless. When she inquired the reason of his restlessness he replied,
"I am fearful of the consequences in case I die today and this trust is not delivered to a deserving person."

It is also mentioned that when the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was on his deathbed, he had an amount of six or seven dinars for the poor and the needy, remaining with him. He sent for the money and after counting it, said,
"It is possible that Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) may reach the presence of his Lord while these dinars are still in his custody!"

Then he (s.a.w.s.) summoned Amirul Momineen Hazrat Ali (a.s.), and gave him the dinars for the poor and the destitutes and then said,
"Now I can rest in peace."
(Naaseekhut Tawarikh Vol.3, Pg544)

Secrets are also trusts

Sometimes a person is told a secret and asked not to divulge it to others. This secret is also a kind of trust. It may also be that one learns of a secret regarding another person and is sure that that person would prefer that it is not made known to others. This secret is a trust according to Shariat. To divulge a secret that one has come to know is Khayanat. The following saying of Ali (a.s.) is present in Ghurarul Hikam:
"To divulge a secret that you are supposed to guard is Khayanat and betrayal."

It is absolutely haraam to betray a secret which is a trust, whether of a friend or an enemy, of a righteous person or an evil one.

Private discussion is also a trust

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) mentions that:
"People who sit together must be careful of safe-guarding the trust. It is not permitted for a believer to disclose a secret of his believing brother."
(Behaarul Anwaar Vol.16)

Abu Zar has related from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"O Abu Zar, one who sits in company must be cautious of safeguarding trust. For if you expose a secret of your believing brother, you would have committed Khayanat. So, keep away from such things."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Whatever is discussed in a meeting is also a trust with the participants. Anything that is to be kept confidential must not be divulged. It is recorded in the traditions:
"One who sits in company must be wary of maintaining the trust but it is not haraam to expose the secret of three kinds of meetings: One, where an unlawful murder is planned; two, where fornication is planned; three, where it is planned to loot someone's property. The facts of such meetings could be presented in the court for proving someone's right. In some cases it assumes such importance that it becomes necessary to disclose a secret."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

In Surah Tahrim the Almighty Allah flays some of the Prophet's wives (Ayesha and Hafasa) for betraying a secret of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Allah has advised them to repent.

"If you both turn to Allah, then indeed your hearts are already inclined (to this)."
(Surah Tahrim 66:4)

The same chapter also mentions the wives of Hazrat Lut (a.s.) and Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) in the following words:
"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)

Divulging secrets is Khayanat

Abdullah Ibne Sinan says that he inquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "Is it haraam for a believer to expose some things of another believer that deserve to be kept secret?"

"Yes," the Imam (a.s.) replied.
The narrator further asked, "Do you mean by this the 'private parts'?"

Imam (a.s.) explained, "It is not what you think, (Though it is also haraam to view the private parts), what I meant were the confidential matters."
(Al Kafi)

Imam (a.s.) has also said:
"One who washes a dead body of a believer and observes caution with regard to the trust is absolved of all his sins."

Someone asked, "How can one maintain secrecy with regard to the washing of a believer's corpse?"

The Imam (a.s.) answered,
"He must not tell anyone of the deformities that he might see in the dead body."
(Amaali)

From this discussion we can be certain that exposing a secret amounts to committing Khayanat. Under all circumstances a secret is a trust, whether the person concerned himself takes you in confidence or you come to know of the secrets by yourself, it is haraam to betray it. If the one whom the secret concerns does not wish his secret to be divulged, then it is haraam and a kind of Khayanat to expose it. Such types of trusts that involve secrets have various grades and are of different types. Certain types of Khayanat are termed as tale telling and others are called backbiting. Each of these shall be elaborated ahead.

Informing disbelievers about the military secrets of the Muslims

Khayanat can be with Allah (a.j.), the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and Muslims. One can also commit Khayanat with ones own self. When a person reveals the political secrets or the military stategies of the Muslims to the disbelieving opponents, he commits Khayanat which includes all the above. He is the cause of strengthening the enemy and responsible for the defeat of the Muslims. Perhaps it is this type of Khayanat that is alluded too in the following ayat:
"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)

In the Shaane Nuzool (circumstances of revelation) of this verse Jabir Ibne Abdullah Ansari says: One day Jibraeel (a.s.) informed the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) of the fact that Abu Sufyan was camping at a particular place with an army of polytheists. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) made preparation to fight with him and kept this secret so that the enemies would be taken by surprise. However, one of the hypocrites wrote to Abu Sufyan and informed him of the Muslim plan. The explanation of the verse (8:27) mentions the Khayanat of Abu Lababa and his subsequent repenting.

Divine mercy upon those who maintain trusts

Maintaining a secret is however, a formidable task. Only those with a high sense of honour are unflinching, and succeed in strictly maintaining secrets. It is a morality with which very few good actions can compare and is deserving of high rewards and Divine blessings. The person is protected from fear on the Day of Qiyamat. On the day when all the people will be gathered for accounting, the trustworthy people shall be placed at the safest and the best place under the shade of Divine mercy.

Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) says,
"Three types of people will be under the shade of Divine mercy when there will be no other shade:
(One), the person who arranges the marriage of his believing brother. (Two), the person who procures a servant for his believing brother. (Three), the person who has maintained a secret of his believing brother."

Restrain from divulging your own secrets

According to the traditions we must not inform anyone of our own secrets. Even if those people are our closest relatives or friends. It is possible that their friendship may not last forever. They might become our enemies in the future. It is very scarce for an enemy not to expose the secrets of his opponent.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has advised one of his followers:
"Do not tell your secrets even to your friend. But only tell him those things that will not cause any harm even if your enemy comes to know of it. Because even a friend could become your enemy one day."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

A reliable and pious person has related that when he intended to divorce his wife, he was asked about her defect; that had made him take such a decision. He replied, "An intelligent person never exposes his wife and never reveals her secrets."

Subsequently the divorce was completed and even the Iddah came to an end. Again some people asked him, "Now she is no more your wife. What was the actual defect in her, that you had to divorce?" He said, "I am not concerned with other women." It means that it is the right of a wife upon her husband that he maintains her secrets even after separation and divorce.

Revealing a secret is a kind of Khayanat and all types of people consider it to be evil. It is mentioned in the book Uqudul Farid that even a filthy man like Ziyad (May Allah's curse be upon him) had criticised Umar Ibne Saad (May Allah's curse be upon him too) for revealing the last wishes and the secret of Hazrat Muslim Ibne Aqeel. Ibne Ziyad (l.a.) had written to Umar Ibne Saad. "O Umar Ibne Saad! Because you yourself have revealed the secret of Husain's coming towards Kufa, you would have to go and fight against him."

The detail of this incident are from the book Nafasul Mahmoom and other books of Islamic history, and are as follows.

When Ibne Ziyad had Muslim Ibne Aqeel arrested, Muslim asked, "Would you murder me?"

"Yes," replied Ibne Ziyad.
"Give me some time so that I can express my last wishes to a relative of mine."

The accursed Ibne Ziyad permitted him to do so. Muslim searched among the people present in the court and saw Umar Ibne Saad. He told Umar Ibne Saad, "O Umar! We are related to each other. I wish something from you. It is obligatory for you to fulfill it and it is a secret that I cannot reveal to everyone."

Umar Ibne Saad tried to shirk the responsibility but Ibne Ziyad told him, "Do not try to avoid this. Listen to what your cousin wishes." So Umar Ibne Saad and Muslim Ibne Aqeel went into a corner.

Muslim said, "There is debt upon my neck. When I had reached Kufa, I had borrowed seven hundred Dirhams. Please sell my armour and repay the loan. When I am killed take my last remains from Ibne Ziyad and perform a proper funeral and bury me. You must also send someone to Imam Husain (a.s.) so that he can stop him from coming to Kufa. I had myself invited him to Kufa and written that the people of Kufa are on his side. So he must have started his journey towards Kufa. Inform him of my arrest and execution so that he may turn back."

Umar Ibne Saad immediately told Ibne Ziyad all the three things (the debt of Muslim, the burying of his corpse and the warning for Imam Husain (a.s.). Ibne Ziyad (l.a.) said to Muslim Ibne Aqeel, "A trustworthy person can never betray you but the thing is that you have considered a betrayer to be your confidant."

An exemplary confidant

It is appropriate to mention an exemplary trustworthiness at this point. When Hazrat Imam Husain (a.s.) reached a spot called, 'Haajiz' he wrote a letter to Muslim Ibne Aqeel and the Shias of Kufa. He wrote:
"From Husain Ibne Ali (a.s.) to his Muslim and momin brothers. Peace be upon you all. Praise be to Allah besides Him there is no deity. I have received Muslim's letter. He has informed me of the glad news that you all are united to support me and prepared to fight for my right. I pray to Allah for your favourable consequences. May He reward you for this stand of yours. I have left Mecca on Tuesday the eighth of Zilhajj and started moving towards you. When my messenger reaches you, you must become serious and concerned in your mission. I shall come to you within a few days, InshaAllah. Peace be upon you and the Divine Mercy."

Imam Husain (a.s.) gave this letter to Qays Ibne Musher Saidawi who set out immediately and soon reached the outskirts of Kufa. An officer of Ibne Ziyad, by the name of Haseen Ibne Tamim tried to arrest him there. He at once tore up the letter of Imam Husain (a.s.). He was then taken to Ibne Ziyad. When Ibne Ziyad told him to surrender the letter he said, "I have torn it into pieces."

"Why?" asked Ibne Ziyad.
"So that you may not come to know what was written in it."

"To whom was it addressed?"
"To some people I am not familiar with."

Ibne Ziyad ordered, "If you do not reveal the name, you shall have to mount the pulpit and invoke curse upon the liars." [Ibne Ziyad was actually referring to Imam Husain (a.s.).]

Qays Ibne Musher went to the pulpit and announced, "O people! Husain Ibne Ali is the best creature of Allah, and the son of Fatemah (s.a.) the daughter of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). I am his messenger. I have left him at a place called 'Haajiz'. I have come to you so that you may respond to his call and support him wholeheartedly."

Then Qays invoked curse upon Ibne Ziyad and his father. He then showered praises upon Amirul Momineen Hazrat Ali (a.s.).

Ibne Ziyad ordered that Qays be taken to the wall of the palace and then thrown down. When Qays was thrown from such a height, his bones shattered but he was alive when Abdul Malik Ibne Amir beheaded him.

When Imam Husain (a.s.) learnt of Qays' murder, his eyes were filled with tears. He recited the following ayat of the Quran:
"Of the believers are men who are true to the covenant which they made with Allah: so of them is he who accomplished his vow, and of them is he who yet waits, and they have not changed in the least."
(Surah Ahzaab 33:23)

An interesting incident of trustworthiness is also recorded in the book, Riyazul Hikayaat:
A man had one thousand Tumans in a bag. He was going to the public bath, early in the morning. On the way he met a friend who was also heading towards the public bath. When they came to a junction this person separated without informing his companion. Perchance a robber was pursuing them with the intention of stealing the moneybag. When this man reached the bath the robber followed suit. The man deposited the moneybag with the bath keeper and went inside to take a bath. The bath-keeper himself thought of taking a bath. He thought that the robber who had followed the man was the latter's friend. So he handed him the money bag and said,
"Keep this in your custody till I return after taking a bath."

The thief remained sitting till the bath-keeper returned. Then he gave back the moneybag to him. When the bath-keeper learnt that he was not a friend of the first person he asked, "Then who are you?"

He replied, "I am a thief."
"Then why did you not steal the money bag?"

The thief answered, "I may be a thief, but betraying trust is against manliness. While safeguarding this trust I have also remained aloof from robbery."

This nobility impressed the owner of the moneybag, and he opened the bag and gave some money to the robber as a reward.

However, stealing is also haraam and it shall be discussed in the forthcoming chapter. An object may be expensive or worthless, but stealing it is absolutely haraam. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Punishment for theft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conditions when corporeal punishment is accorded

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Protection of property and honour

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

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

How is the punishment awarded?

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

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

Diyat (penalty)

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

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

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

Deed in Sijjin

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

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

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

A person who short-weighs is not a Momin

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five sins and their punishments

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

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

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

When immorality is practised openly deadly diseases certainly increase.

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

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

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

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

Between mountains of fire

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

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

Short changing is also haraam

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

The Seller who cheats is a debtor of the buyer

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

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

Defrauding is like selling short

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

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

Adulteration is haraam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What you desire for yourself

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

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

Justice and equity is best

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

The scales of justice

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

Everything has a measure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Types of bribe

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bribe in the name of khums and gift

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

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

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

Paying a bribe for obtaining ones rights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accepting a bribe for doing something lawful

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

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

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

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

Characteristics of those who eat haraam

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

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

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

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

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

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

Invocations are not accepted

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

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

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

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

Hardening of the heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A morsel of halaal food

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

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

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

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

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

Allah does not provide unlawful livelihood

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

No one dies without receiving his decreed sustenance

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

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

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

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

Deprived of halaal food

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Demand for fulfillment of rights on the Day of Qiyamat

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

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

Actual poverty

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

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

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

Loan for a fixed period and loan without time limit

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

It is Compulsory to repay a Debt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not repaying debts is Khayanat to all

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


source : GREATER SINS/ by Al-Haaj Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib
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