Sale of a Person in Financial Constraints

Q: What is the ruling of Shari’ah in regard to a person who is in financial constraints and people (e.g. his creditors) take advantage of his situation? They are well aware that due to his situation, if they offer him an extremely low price for his goods, he will accept due to his desperation and sell it to them. An item worth R50 will easily be sold to them for R5. Is it permissible for them to ‘squeeze’ him in this manner, due to which they will get much more money from him than he actually owes them?

A: Islam is a religion of unity and compassion. The commands of dealing with mercy and compassion are not confined to the believers but also apply when dealing with the kuffaar. Nay, the laws of compassion and kindness even extend to dealing with the animal kingdom. Islam is second to none in showing kindness and compassion.

Hence, we are commanded to assist people who are in difficulty and seek ways to remove their difficulty. Taking advantage of the debtor by paying him a pittance is oppressing him and causing him further grief. It is certainly not becoming of a Muslim to deal with any person in this manner.

Therefore, even though the transaction will take place, as an offer and acceptance is apparently found with mutual consent, since the person is unhappy and is being compelled due to the circumstance to sell for such a low price, such a transaction will be faasid (invalid). The sale should be renewed and the person should at least be paid the market value of the goods.

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

عن عبد الله بن عمرو رضي الله عنهما قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم الراحمون يرحمهم الرحمن ارحموا من في الأرض يرحمكم من في السماء الرحم شجنة من الرحمن فمن وصلها وصله الله ومن قطعها قطعه الله (سنن الترمذي، الرقم: 1924)

وفي النتف بيع المضطر وشراؤه فاسد (الدر المختار 5/59)

قال العلامة ابن عابدين رحمه الله (قوله بيع المضطر وشراؤه فاسد) هو أن يضطر الرجل إلى طعام أو شراب أو لباس أو غيرها ولا يبيعها البائع إلا بأكثر من ثمنها بكثير وكذلك في الشراء منه كذا في المنح اهـ ح وفيه لف ونشر غير مرتب لأن قوله وكذا في الشراء منه أي من المضطر مثال لبيع المضطر أي بأن اضطر إلى بيع شيء من ماله ولم يرض المشتري إلا بشرائه بدون ثمن المثل بغبن فاحش (رد المحتار 5/59)

Answered by:

Mufti Zakaria Makada

Checked & Approved:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)