Charging a cancellation fee

Q: I booked accommodation with a certain guesthouse for the March school break holidays which was originally from the 20th March until the 30th March for a total of 10 nights and payed a sum of R8500.

On the 15th March the President announced that we are facing a pandemic and was putting social distancing restrictions in place as well as non essential travel was to be cancelled. The next day I contacted the guesthouse to cancel my accommodation due to the presidents speech the night before. While negotiating the penalty for cancelation, the beaches were then also closed.

After much deliberation I was penalised 4 nights (40%) of my 10 night paid accommodation without a cash refund however a 6 nights credit for future stay. About 10 days later I was contacted for a refund to be processed. The amount refunded was 60% of what I paid (R5100) resulting in a 40% penalty as per above.

My question is, is it Islamically permissible for this penalty as this cancellation was due to the pandemic as declared by our President.

A: Islam does not recognise these types of penalties.

And Allah Ta'ala (الله تعالى) knows best.


Answered by:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)