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Surah Al Baqra Verses 281-286

281 And fear the day when ye shall be brought back to Allah. Then shall every soul be paid what it earned and none shall be dealt with unjustly.

282 O ye who believe! when ye deal with each other in transactions involving future obligations in a fixed period of time reduce them to writing. Let a scribe write down faithfully as between the parties: let not the scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him so let him write. Let him who incurs the liability dictate but let him fear his Lord Allah and not diminish aught of what he owes. If the party liable is mentally deficient or weak or unable himself to dictate let his guardian dictate faithfully. And get two witnesses out of your own men and if there are not two men then a man and two women such as ye choose for witnesses so that if one of them errs the other can remind her. The witnesses should not refuse when they are called on (for evidence). Disdain not to reduce to writing (your contract) for a future period whether it be small or big: it is juster in the sight of Allah more suitable as evidence and more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves; but if it be a transaction which ye carry out on the spot among yourselves there is no blame on you if ye reduce it not to writing. But take witnesses whenever ye make a commercial contract; and let neither scribe nor witness suffer harm. If ye do (such harm) it would be wickedness in you. So fear Allah; for it is Allah that teaches you. And Allah is well acquainted with all things. 329 330 331 332 333

283 If ye are on a journey and cannot find a scribe a pledge with possession (may serve the purpose). And if one of you deposits a thing on trust with another let the trustee (faithfully) discharge his trust and let him fear his Lord. Conceal not evidence; for whoever conceals it his heart is tainted with sin. And Allah knoweth all that ye do. 334 335 336

284 To Allah belongeth all that is in the heavens and on earth. Whether ye show what is in your minds or conceal it Allah calleth you to account for it. He forgiveth whom He pleaseth and punisheth whom He pleaseth. For Allah hath power over all things.

285 The Apostle believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believeth in Allah His angels His books and His Apostles "We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His Apostles." And they say: "We hear and we obey; (We seek) Thy forgiveness Our Lord and to Thee is the end of all journeys." 337 338 339

286 On no soul doth Allah place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns and it suffers every ill that it earns. (Pray): "Our Lord! condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which Thou didst lay on those before us; Our Lord! lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. Thou art our Protector; help us against those who stand against faith." 340 341 342


Commentry:

329 The first part of the verse deals with transactions involving future payment or future consideration, and the second part with transactions in which payment and delivery are made on the spot. Examples of the former are if goods are bought now and payment is promised at a fixed time and place in the future, or if cash is paid now and delivery is contracted for at a fixed time and place in the future. In such cases a written document is recommended, but it is held that the words later on in this verse, that it is "juster . . . more suitable as evidence, and more convenient to prevent doubts", etc. imply that it is not obligatory in law. Examples of the latter kind - cash payment and delivery on the spot - require no evidence in writing, but apparently oral witnesses to such transactions are recommended. (2.282)

330 The scribe in such matters assumes a fiduciary capacity: he should therefore remember to act as in the presence of God, with full justice to both parties. The art of writing he should look upon as a gift from God, and he should use it as in His service. In an illiterate population the scribe's position is still more responsible. (2.282)

331 Possibly the person "mentally deficient, or weak, or unable to dictate", may also be incapable of making a valid contract, and the whole duty would be on his guardian, who again must act in perfect good faith, not only protecting but vigilantly promoting the interests of his ward. (2.282)

332 It is desirable that the men (or women) who are chosen as witness should be from the circle to which the parties belong, as they would best be able to understand the transaction, and be most easily available if their evidence is required in future. (2.282)

333 Commercial morality is here taught on the highest plane and yet in the most practical manner, both as regards the bargains to be made, the evidence to be provided, the doubts to be avoided, and the duties and rights of scribes and witnesses. Probity even in worldly matters is to be, not a mere matter of convenience or policy, but a matter of conscience and religious duty. Even our every-day transactions are to be carried out as in the presence of God. (2.282)

334 A pledge or security stands on its own independent footing, though it is a very convenient form of closing the bargain where the parties cannot trust each other, and cannot get a written agreement with proper witnesses. (2.283)

335 The law of Deposit implies great trust in the Depositary on the part of the Depositor. The Depositary becomes a trustee, and the doctrine of Trust can be further developed on that basis. The trustee's duty is to guard the interests of the person on whose behalf he holds the trust and to render back the property and accounts when required according to the terms of the trust. This duty again is linked to the sanction of Religion, which requires a higher standard than Law. (2.283)

336 It sometimes happens that if some inconvenient piece of evidence is destroyed or concealed, we gain a great advantage materially. We are warned not to yield to such a temptation. The concealment of evidence has a serious effect on our own moral and spiritual life, for it taints the very source of higher life, as typified by the heart. The heart is also the seat of our secrets. We are told that the sin will reach our most secret being, though the sin may not be visible or open to the world. Further, the heart is in the seat of our affections, and false dealing taints all our affections. (2.283)

337 This Sura started with the question of Faith (ii 3-4), showed us various aspects of Faith and the denial of Faith, gave us ordinances for the new People of Islam as a community, and now rounds off the argument again with a confession of Faith and of its practical manifestation in conduct ("we hear and we obey"), and closes on a note of humility, so that we may confess our sins, ask for forgiveness, and pray for God's help and guidance. (2.285)

338 Cf ii 136 and ii 253, n. 289. It is not for us to make any distinction between one and another of God's apostles: we must honor them all equally, though we know that God in His wisdom sent them with different kinds of mission and gave them different degrees of rank. (2.285)

339 When our faith and conduct are sincere, we realize how far from perfection we are, and we humbly pray to God for the forgiveness of our sins. We feel that God imposes no burden on us that we cannot bear, and with this realization in our hearts and in the confession of our lips, we go to Him and ask for His help and guidance. (2.285)

340 Cf. ii. 233. In that verse the burden was in terms of material wealth: here it is in terms of spiritual duty. Assured by God that He will accept from each soul just such duty as it has the ability to offer, we pray further on for the fulfilment of that promise. (2.286)

341 We must not be arrogant, and think that because God has granted us His favor and mercy we have no need to exert ourselves, or that we are ourselves superior to those before us. On the contrary, knowing how much they failed, we pray that our burdens should be lightened, and we confess our realization that we have all the greater need for God's mercy and forgiveness. And so we end the whole argument of the Sura with a prayer for God's help, not in our own selfish ends, but in our resolve to uphold God's truth against all Unbelief. (2.286)

342 See note to ii. 1. (2.286)

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