A Serving by the Debtor

A serving by the debtor

Question:

I have some money that I lent to a man. When I went to his house to collect it, I drank the coffee that he served to me. Was that coffee similar to usury to me?

Answer:

It is mentioned that when Abu Hanifa collected the debt of a businessman who owed him, he refused to sit under the roof of that man. When he was asked about it, his answer was, “Every debt that yielding benefit, that benefit is an usury. I don’t want this credit of mine yields such benefit’.

That saying of Imam Abu Hanifah above wasn’t the Prophet’s saying, but rather, a correct principle in jurisprudence. The saying also quoted by some of the tabeen, such as Qatada, as narrated by Abdurrazzaq in his work “al Mushonnaf”. Hence, all kind of debt which gives benefit, that benefit is an unlawful property, because debt should not create any benefit, since it is a form of worship and obedience to Allah.

It is mentioned in a hadith narrated by Ibn Hibban that whoever gives a loan without asking for any additional charge (which is usury), will be counted as spending in charity with half of that loan.

If we lent money to other people about IDR 100.000,-, and that money was then returned wholly, we were already counted as spending IDR 50.000,- in charity. Thus, the reward of giving a loan without interest is similar to spending half of that loan in charity. Since debt and credit transaction is a form of worship, then it is not allowed for someone involved in it to get worldly rewards due to his worship.

Ruling of Drinking a cup of coffee at the house of our debtor, or got a sent gift from that debtor, should be detailed first:

First, if the gift was given because of the loan we lent, then the gift was a usury and forbidden to accept.

Second, if we already have a good relationship with that man and when we went to his house he served us something which he would still serve us with although he wasn’t borrowing any money to us, such gift was alright. A cup of coffee today doesn’t give any influence towards the debt and credit transaction, since such beverage is a common serving for the guests these days. The proof is, if you didn’t have any loan given to him, and you visited that man’s house, you would still get that cup of coffee. Thus, drinking it becomes alright.

An unlawful gift is a gift given before the settlement of the debt, with the reason that we are involving in debt and credit transaction with the giver. If we lent other some money, and the person settled his debt, then he remembered our kindness thus after his payment he wanted to give us some presents, such is alright. In a valid hadith, the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said,

من صنع إليكم معروفاً فكافئوه

“If someone does good to you, return his kindness.”

The minimum form of returning one’s kindness to us is thanking him. If a person did good to us, then we must repay his kindness, and the minimum of it is the saying ‘jazakallahu khoiron’ (may Allah repay you with goodness), ‘barakallahu fikum’ (may Allah bless you), or the likes. This is a compulsory thing to do.

If we added our gratitude after we settled our debt with a present, it is also alright. But if the present was made compulsory in that debt and credit transaction, whether straightforwardly stipulated or in unwritten form, then such present is a usury.

(Fatwa issued by Shaikh Mashur Hasan alu Salman).

Author: Ustadz Aris Munandar, M.PI
Article of www.syaria.com

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