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Penalty Clause In Istisnaa (Construction/Production Contract)

Question

A man hires a contractor to build a shop. The contractor is delaying. The structure is up, but incomplete.

Can he charge the contractor rental for the delay, or should he pay less for the job?

Answer

Your question falls under Bay’ul Istisnaa’ (construction/production contract) where the client requests a manufacturer/contractor (who supplies both material and services) to build something for him which is not in existence at the time of the contract. The general rule is that this kind of sale is not valid from our Shariah perspective because for it to be valid it is necessary that the product exists in a physical or constructive possession from the seller. However, due to the preponderant occurrence of these types of transactions in society, the Fuqahaa (Jurists) have exempted Bay’ul Istisnaa’ from that general rule and declared such a sale to be valid when the seller and the buyer find mutual agreement, but with the condition that the non-existent item has been accurately specified at the time of the contract.

Having understood the above as a preamble, we now come to resolving your question: According to the Shariah ruling, placing a condition of a monetary charge in the contract is not permissible. Therefore, in the enquired case, it will not be permissible to charge the contractor a monetary penalty (which you have deemed as “rental”) based on the delay of his construction work. Such a monetary penalty will be considered to be Riba (interest) and strictly prohibited in Islam. But if a deadline was stipulated then it must be respected by the contractor and he must abstain from any form of negligent behaviour. If not, he will be sinful for breaking the initial promise of completing the work by the specified time. In the event where he has a genuine and valid excuse, because of which he was forced to delay his work, then it is permitted for him to do so and he will not be sinful for that.

In the case where there was no valid reason and excuse for the delay, then a mutual compromise may be reached with the contractor whereby he happily and willingly agrees to drop the price of the contract and charges proportionately less for the job that was entrusted to him. One cannot however, forcefully reduce the price and pay him less, as that will also tantamount to penalizing him for the delay, which as stated earlier on, would not be permissible to do.

References

إنَّ الِاسْتِصْنَاعَ وَإِنْ كَانَ غَيْرَ جَائِزٍ قِيَاسًا؛ لِأَنَّهُ بَيْعٌ مَعْدُومٌ فَقَدْ ثَبَتَتْ مَشْرُوعِيَّتُهُ بِالسُّنَّةِ وَإِجْمَاعِ الْأُمَّةِ فَقَدْ اسْتَصْنَعَ النَّبِيُّ – صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – الْخَاتَمَ وَالْمِنْبَرَ.

خُلَاصَةُ الْفَصْلِ:    ١ – قَدْ صَارَ الِاسْتِصْنَاعُ مَشْرُوعًا بِالسُّنَّةِ وَإِجْمَاعِ الْأُمَّةِ. ٢ – يُشْتَرَطُ أَنْ يَكُونَ الْعَمَلُ وَالْعَيْنُ فِي الِاسْتِصْنَاعِ مِنْ الصَّانِعِ.  ٣ – يَلْزَمُ أَنْ يَكُونَ الِاسْتِصْنَاعُ فِي الْأَشْيَاءِ الْمُتَعَامَلِ فِيهَا أَمَّا الَّتِي لَمْ يَجْرِ التَّعَامُلُ فِيهَا فَالْعَقْدُ فِيهَا فَاسِدٌ وَلَمْ تُبَيَّنْ لَهَا مُدَّةٌ.  ٤ – يَلْزَمُ فِي الِاسْتِصْنَاعِ تَعْرِيفُ الْمَصْنُوعِ.  ٥ – لَا يَلْزَمُ أَنْ تَكُونَ النُّقُودُ سَلَفًا فِي الِاسْتِصْنَاعِ.  

 ٦ – الِاسْتِصْنَاعُ بَيْعٌ وَلَيْسَ بِوَعْدٍ مُجَرَّدٍ.  ٧ – يَبْطُلُ الِاسْتِصْنَاعُ بِوَفَاةِ الصَّانِعِ وَالْمُسْتَصْنِعِ  –  درر الحكام في شرح مجلة الأحكام ج1 ص422

وَأَحَلَّ اللَّهُ الْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ الرِّبَا ۚ (سورة البقرة: 275)     

عَنْ جَابِرٍ، قَالَ لَعَنَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم آكِلَ الرِّبَا وَمُوكِلَهُ وَكَاتِبَهُ وَشَاهِدَيْهِ وَقَالَ هُمْ سَوَاءٌ (صحيح مسلم: 1598)

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ أَوۡفُواْ بِٱلۡعُقُودِۚ – سورة المائدة أية 1) (      

وَأَوۡفُواْ بِٱلۡعَهۡدِۖ إِنَّ ٱلۡعَهۡدَ كَانَ مَسۡـُٔولا
سورة الإسراء(34)

(وَصَحَّ تَرْدِيدُ الْأَجْرِ بِالتَّرْدِيدِ فِي الْعَمَلِ) كَإِنْ خِطَّهُ فَارِسِيًّا بِدِرْهَمٍ أَوْ رُومِيًّا بِدِرْهَمَيْنِ (وَزَمَانِهِ فِي الْأَوَّلِ) كَذَا بِخَطِّ الْمُصَنِّفِ مُلْحَقًا وَلَمْ يَشْرَحْهُ وَسَيَتَّضِحُ.

قَالَ شَيْخُنَا الرَّمْلِيُّ: وَمَعْنَاهُ يَجُوزُ فِي الْيَوْمِ الْأَوَّلِ دُونَ الثَّانِي كَإِنْ خِطَّهُ الْيَوْمَ فَبِدِرْهَمٍ أَوْ غَدًا فَبِنِصْفِهِ (وَمَكَانِهِ) كَإِنْ سَكَنْتَ هَذِهِ الدَّارَ فَبِدِرْهَمٍ أَوْ هَذِهِ فَبِدِرْهَمَيْنِ (وَالْعَامِلِ) كَإِنْ سَكَّنْتَ عَطَّارًا فَبِدِرْهَمٍ أَوْ حَدَّادًا فَبِدِرْهَمَيْنِ (وَالْمَسَافَةِ) كَإِنْ ذَهَبْتَ لِلْكُوفَةِ فَبِدِرْهَمٍ أَوْ لِلْبَصْرَةِ فَبِدِرْهَمَيْنِ (وَالْحَمْلِ) كَإِنْ حَمَلْتَ شَعِيرًا فَبِدِرْهَمٍ أَوْ بُرًّا فَبِدِرْهَمَيْنِ وَكَذَا لَوْ خَيَّرَهُ بَيْنَ ثَلَاثَةِ أَشْيَاءَ وَلَوْ بَيْنَ أَرْبَعَةٍ لَمْ يَجُزْ كَمَا فِي الْبَيْع وَيَجِبُ أَجْرُ مَا وَجَدَ إلَّا فِي تَخْيِيرِ الزَّمَانِ فَيَجِبُ بِخِيَاطَتِهِ فِي الْأَوَّلِ مَا سَمَّى وَفِي الْغَدِ أَجْرُ الْمِثْلِ لَا يُزَادُ عَلَى دِرْهَمٍ وَلَوْ خَاطَهُ بَعْدَ غَدٍ لَا يُزَادُ عَلَى نِصْفِ دِرْهَمٍ وَفِيهِ خِلَافُهُمَا  – حاشية ابن عابدين رد المحتار ج6 ص72

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