Warnings Regarding Misappropriation of Property

prayer-carpet-2Mawlana Muhammad Manzoor Nu’mani

Translated by Mohammad Asif Kidwai  M.A., Ph.D

If an article is bought from someone on a price, it is called Ba’i and Shira (buying and selling), in the special usage of the Shari’ah; if it is made use of on payment of a hire or rent, it is called Ijra; and if it is borrowed for a time, without consideration, and on the understanding that it will be returned after use, it is called ‘Aariyat.

Another way of acquiring anyone’s property is that occupation is taken of it by force or fraud. [This] is called Ghasab (misappropriation; usurpation; embezzlement; plunder) which is strictly forbidden.

(1) It is related by Abdullah ibn Umar that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever wrongfully occupies land belonging to someone else will be sunk into the ground along with the land on the Last Day until he reaches the bottom of the earth.” (Bukhari)

Commentary: The above Tradition has been related with minor variations by a number of other Companions as well. The substance of all of them, however, is that anyone who unlawfully occupies the smallest plot of land, even if it only be a baalisht (a span measured by the extended thumb and little finger) of it – as a report tells – shall be sunk, in punishment of it, to the lowest part of the earth on the Day of Final Reckoning.

An awe-inspiring incident has been quoted, in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih al-Muslim, in connection with the usurpation of land, which has a bearing on the narrative under discussion. It is related that during the Caliphate of Ameer Mu’awiyah (R), a woman filed a complaint in the court of Marwaan, the Governor of Madinah, against Sa’eed ibn Zaid (R) – who is included among the ten Companions of the Holy Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam about whom the tidings of Paradise were given, name by name, in their own lifetime – that he had wrongfully occupied her land. Hazrat Sa’eed (R) feeling extremely hurt, exclaimed, “I will approach upon the land of this woman and occupy it unjustly! Have I not heard the dreadful admonition pronounced, in this regard, by the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam?”

Hazrat Sa’eed (R) spoke with such feeling that even Marwaan was moved by it, and he said to him, “Now, I do not call for any proof or argument from you.”

Hazrat Sa’eed (R) then made the following prayer from the depth of his heart, “Oh Allah! If You know that his woman has charged by with a false offense, deprive her of the vision of her eyes, and the land into her grave.”

The narrator, Hazrat Urwah, goes on to say, “It happened exactly like that. I myself saw the woman. She became blind in old age and used to say that she had come to that state owing to the imprecation of Sa’eed bin Zaid (R); and then one day she fell into a ditch as she was going over her land, and the ditch became her grave.”

(2) It is related by Imran bin Husain (R) that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever acquires anyone’s property by force is not of us.” (Tirmidhi)

(3) It is related by Sa’ib bin Yazid on the authority of his father that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said, “None of you should take even the stick of his brother, [neither] in jest [nor] with the intention of taking. Anyone who does so should, therefore, return it.” (Tirmidhi and Abu Dawood)

Commentary: It shows that even an ordinary thing like a stick not be taken without the owner’s permission, [even] by way of a joke. In case it is done, the article ought to be returned, and no one should imagine that the giving back of an article of little value, like a stick, was not necessary.

(4) Abu Hurairah (R) relates, on the authority of his uncle, Raqqashi, that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said, “Beware! Do not be unjust to anyone. Beware! To acquire anything belonging to anyone else, without his consent, is unlawful.” (Baihaqi and Daruqutni)

(5) Jabir (R) related to us, saying that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam once happened to pass by (the house of) a woman, along with some Companions, whereupon she invited him to dinner. (The Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam accepted the invitation). The woman then slaughtered a goat, prepared the meal, and placed it before the Holy Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam and the Companions. The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam took a morsel of food, but he [was not able to] swallow it. (The food did not pass down his throat). Upon this, he remarked, ‘(It appears that) the goat was slaughtered without the owner’s permission.’ [The woman replied,] ‘We do not observe such formalities with M’uad’s family (who are our neighbors). We make use of their things and they make use of our things.’” (Musnad Ahmad)

Commentary: As it appears from the woman’s reply, the goat belonged to the family of M’uad. On the account of the good neighborly relations prevailing between them, and the customary behavior, it was not thought necessary to obtain the owner’s permission before slaughtering the animal. When the meal was ready and the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam sat down to eat, his system revolted against it, and the very first morsel got stuck in his throat, and it became apparent to him, instinctively, that the goat had been slaughtered without the permission of its owner.

Just as the Almighty Creator has endowed men with a peculiar power or means by which they respond to things through taste or smell and it becomes impossible for them to swallow anything which is abhorrent to the palate, so does He grant to the chosen bondmen whom He wishes to protect from unlawful food and drink special sensitiveness which keeps them from partaking of anything that is forbidden. The inability of the Holy Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam to swallow the morsel of food was a distinct indication of that very favor of the Lord upon him.

Incidents of a like nature have also been reported about holy men known in common parlance as Awliya Allah (Friends of God).

It is worth remembering here that the goat had neither been stolen nor taken by force, but only slaughtered without the permission of the owner owing to the close and friendly relations and [manner of obtaining things] between the two families.

From this, we can deduce how careful one should be in making use of things belonging to others without their permission or willingness.


Extracted from Ma’ariful Hadith, published by Academy of Islamic Research and Publications, Lucknow (India).

Note: Ilmgate has made minor edits to this excerpt for spelling, grammar, and style.

Courtesy of www.ilmgate.org


Jamiatul Ulama of Victoria have placed articles and answers to questions for public view for educational purposes. However, many of these answers are unique to a particular scenario and cannot be taken as a basis to establish a ruling in another situation or another environment. Jamiatul Ulama of Victoria bears no responsibility with regards to these answers/articles being used out of their intended context. Any Shariah ruling herein given is based specifically on the question posed and should be read in conjunction with the question. Jamiatul Ulama of Victoria bears no responsibility to any party who may or may not act on this article or answer to a question posed and being hereby exempted from loss or damage howsoever caused. This answer may not be used as evidence in any Court of Law without prior written consent of Jamiatul Ulama of Victoria. Any or all links provided in our emails, answers and articles are restricted to the specific material being cited. Such referencing should not be taken as an endorsement of other contents of that website.