Person A agrees verbally to sell a commodity to person B on credit at an agreed price.
Person B takes immediate ownership of the commodity subject to a contract being signed with terms and conditions outlining payment terms etc
Person A has draws up the sale contract with terms on how payments should be made and over how many years with the exact monthly payments required etc including clauses outlining what can be done if Person B is unable at any stage to meet monthly commitments.
It’s now been 6months and Person B refuses to sign the contract and has only made 2 miniscule payments towards the debt instead of the proposed monthly payments and refuses to talk to Person A.
Does Person A have any recourse in shariah like taking the commodity back or is there anything else that he could do as he feels like Person B is taking advantage of him
In the queried scenario, we understand that person A sold an item to person B on credit. The selling price of the item was fixed and stipulated and the monthly terms were also agreed upon between both parties. Hence, the deal was finalized and concluded between person A and person B.
Now, it was just a matter of recording the transaction on paper and both parties signing the agreement. If the same verbal agreement has been put to writing then person B should sign the documentation as it is the very same verbal agreement (which both parties agreed to) that has now been put into writing. The verbal agreement is also binding upon him just as a written agreement would be binding, hence person B should not hesitate in signing the said agreement.
However, if person A has now added additional clauses to the agreement which were not previously discussed and agreed upon, then person B may refuse to accept the additional clauses of the agreement, until the agreement is amended and reduced to the original verbal agreement. Yes, if person B agrees to the added clauses then there is no problem. However, although person B refuses to sign the agreement drafted by person A, this in no way absolves him of his responsibility of paying back for the item purchased by him. He should as a Muslim honour his agreement (even though it was only verbal) and pay person A in full.
The Hadith states, “The procrastinating of a wealthy person is oppression.” [Tirmidhi] The act of person B delaying payment and not honouring his agreement is tantamount to oppression for which he will be held accountable in the Court of Allah Ta’aala. If he is unable to pay due to financial constraints then he should discuss the matter with the creditor and reach some alternative arrangement for settling the debt, but ignoring the creditor and causing him inconvenience is not the solution to the problem. Before performing the Janaazah Salaah of any person Rasulullah ﷺ would ask, “Is there any debt upon him?” If he was indebted to anyone then Rasulullah ﷺ would not perform his Janaazah Salaah until some Sahaabi (Radhiallahu Anhu) from the congregation would take the responsibility of settling the debt. It is only then that Rasulullah ﷺ would perform the Janaazah Salaah. In the Kitaab Al-Ashbah Wan- Nazaa’ir it is recorded that if a person usurps a Daaniq (which is a sixth of a Dirham which is approximately R9 currently) then 700 accepted Salaah will be taken from the debtor and passed onto the creditor on the day Qiyaamah (if the matter was left unresolved in the world). We understand from the above that this is indeed a very serious matter which generally people treat very lightly due to the reality of the Hereafter not being before us. If the reality of the Hereafter and these warnings are before us, we will ensure that our accounts and debts are settled on time and in full.
He (person B) should therefore make arrangements with the creditor (person A) and settle the installments that are due thus far, and also ensure that all future installments are paid on time. This Fatwa may be presented to him so that he understands the intensity and seriousness of the matter. Also, some senior Alim in the community may assist with resolving the issue at hand. We suggest that these steps are implemented in resolving the matter at this stage.
Checked and Approved By:
Mufti Muhammed Saeed Motara Saheb D.B.