English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 2: Al-Baqarah — The Cow (Revealed at Madinah: 40 sections, 286 verses)

Section 39 (Verses 2:282–2:283): Contracts and Evidence

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Translation:

یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اِذَا تَدَایَنۡتُمۡ بِدَیۡنٍ اِلٰۤی اَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّی فَاکۡتُبُوۡہُ ؕ وَ لۡیَکۡتُبۡ بَّیۡنَکُمۡ کَاتِبٌۢ بِالۡعَدۡلِ ۪ وَ لَا یَاۡبَ کَاتِبٌ اَنۡ یَّکۡتُبَ کَمَا عَلَّمَہُ اللّٰہُ فَلۡیَکۡتُبۡ ۚ وَ لۡیُمۡلِلِ الَّذِیۡ عَلَیۡہِ الۡحَقُّ وَ لۡیَتَّقِ اللّٰہَ رَبَّہٗ وَ لَا یَبۡخَسۡ مِنۡہُ شَیۡئًا ؕ فَاِنۡ کَانَ الَّذِیۡ عَلَیۡہِ الۡحَقُّ سَفِیۡہًا اَوۡ ضَعِیۡفًا اَوۡ لَا یَسۡتَطِیۡعُ اَنۡ یُّمِلَّ ہُوَ فَلۡیُمۡلِلۡ وَلِیُّہٗ بِالۡعَدۡلِ ؕ وَ اسۡتَشۡہِدُوۡا شَہِیۡدَیۡنِ مِنۡ رِّجَالِکُمۡ ۚ فَاِنۡ لَّمۡ یَکُوۡنَا رَجُلَیۡنِ فَرَجُلٌ وَّ امۡرَاَتٰنِ مِمَّنۡ تَرۡضَوۡنَ مِنَ الشُّہَدَآءِ اَنۡ تَضِلَّ اِحۡدٰىہُمَا فَتُذَکِّرَ اِحۡدٰىہُمَا الۡاُخۡرٰی ؕ وَ لَا یَاۡبَ الشُّہَدَآءُ اِذَا مَا دُعُوۡا ؕ وَ لَا تَسۡـَٔمُوۡۤا اَنۡ تَکۡتُبُوۡہُ صَغِیۡرًا اَوۡ کَبِیۡرًا اِلٰۤی اَجَلِہٖ ؕ ذٰلِکُمۡ اَقۡسَطُ عِنۡدَ اللّٰہِ وَ اَقۡوَمُ لِلشَّہَادَۃِ وَ اَدۡنٰۤی اَلَّا تَرۡتَابُوۡۤا اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ تَکُوۡنَ تِجَارَۃً حَاضِرَۃً تُدِیۡرُوۡنَہَا بَیۡنَکُمۡ فَلَیۡسَ عَلَیۡکُمۡ جُنَاحٌ اَلَّا تَکۡتُبُوۡہَا ؕ وَ اَشۡہِدُوۡۤا اِذَا تَبَایَعۡتُمۡ ۪ وَ لَا یُضَآرَّ کَاتِبٌ وَّ لَا شَہِیۡدٌ ۬ؕ وَ اِنۡ تَفۡعَلُوۡا فَاِنَّہٗ فُسُوۡقٌۢ بِکُمۡ ؕ وَ اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ ؕ وَ یُعَلِّمُکُمُ اللّٰہُ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ بِکُلِّ شَیۡءٍ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۸۲﴾

2:282 O you who believe, when you contract a debt for a fixed time, write it down.1 And let a scribe write it down between you with fairness; nor should the scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so let him write. And let him who owes the debt dictate, and he should observe his duty to Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it. But if he who owes the debt is unsound in understanding or weak, or (if) he is not able to dictate himself, let his guardian dictate with fairness.2 And call to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women3 from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two commits error, the one may remind the other.4 And the witnesses must not refuse when they are summoned. And do not be averse to writing it whether it is small or large along with the time of its falling due. This is more equitable in the sight of Allah and makes testimony surer and the best way to keep away from doubts. But when it is ready merchandise which you give and take among yourselves from hand to hand, there is no blame on you in not writing it down. And have witnesses when you sell to one another. And let no harm be done to the scribe or to the witnesses.5 And if you do (it), then surely it is a transgression on your part. And keep your duty to Allah. And Allah teaches you. And Allah is Knower of all things.

وَ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ عَلٰی سَفَرٍ وَّ لَمۡ تَجِدُوۡا کَاتِبًا فَرِہٰنٌ مَّقۡبُوۡضَۃٌ ؕ فَاِنۡ اَمِنَ بَعۡضُکُمۡ بَعۡضًا فَلۡیُؤَدِّ الَّذِی اؤۡتُمِنَ اَمَانَتَہٗ وَ لۡیَتَّقِ اللّٰہَ رَبَّہٗ ؕ وَ لَا تَکۡتُمُوا الشَّہَادَۃَ ؕ وَ مَنۡ یَّکۡتُمۡہَا فَاِنَّہٗۤ اٰثِمٌ قَلۡبُہٗ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۸۳﴾٪

2:283 And if you are on a journey and you cannot find a scribe, a security may be taken into possession.6 But if one of you trusts another, then he who is trusted should deliver his trust, and let him keep his duty to Allah, his Lord. And do not conceal testimony. And whoever conceals it, his heart is surely sinful. And Allah is Knower of what you do.

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Commentary:

  1. If Islam enjoins charity and prohibits usury, it also requires that the greatest precautions must be taken for safeguarding property rights. The Arabs were quite an illiterate people, among whom writing was very rare. Even then they were required to put down all their transactions, great or small, in writing, except in hand-to-hand dealings.
  2. A guardian may be appointed for one who is not able to manage his own property because he is a minor or his understanding is not sound on account of age or any other reason.
  3. As women did not take much part in business, and might be unfamiliar with the transaction, two women are required instead of one man. (Editor’s Note: It is quite unwarranted to presume from this advice that the evi­dence of two women equals the evidence of one man. According to 24:6–9 if a husband accuses his wife of adultery which she denies and he is the sole witness, her testimon­y is treated as of equal value to his. In 5:106 and 65:2 it is required to have “two just ones” as witnesses and not specifically men. There are a number of reports in Hadith showing that the Holy Prophet Muhammad gave full weight to the testimony of a woman.)
  4. The personal pronoun humā may refer either to the testimony of the two witnesses or the two women. Reminding here stands for making up the deficiency of the other’s memory. The Holy Quran does not say that no case should be decided except on the testimony of two witnesses, but requires ordinari­ly the calling of two witnesses at the time of the transaction, so that the deficiency of one may be rectified by the other. Cases may be decided on circum­stantial evidence as well, which is sometimes stronger than the evidence of witnesses. The Quran itself speaks of Joseph’s innocence being established on cir­cumstantial evidence (12:26–27).
  5. The scribe and the witnesses must not be made to suffer loss in their own business. In other words, their convenience must be kept in view, and they should be paid.
  6. This does not mean that a security cannot be taken in any other case. Security may be taken when the lender does not trust the debtor. Also, advantage can be derived by the lender from the property which has been given into his possession as a security for the debt.

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