What Is the Balance Between Justice and Forgiveness in Business?


Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: Asslamu Alaykum

I work at a for-profit organization. Suppliers and business partners sometimes do not meet their commitment (for example do not deliver on agreed timelines), even when the agreement is clearly written down and agreed upon. Islam calls for forgiveness and extols the virtues of forgiveness. But, Islam also calls for justice and this makes the situation tricky. What is the best thing to do in this situation?

Answer: Wa ‘alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

Thank you for your question.

Mutual agreement and consent

The basis for all business transactions in Islam is that both sides are mutually consenting and pleased with the contract. This is taken directly from the verse of sura al-Nisāʾ, ‘Believers, do not consume your wealth among yourselves wrongfully, unless it be [gained] through trade based on mutual consent.’ (4,29). The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Clearly trade is only based on mutual agreement and consent’ (Ibn Majah).

Based on these and other sources the jurists have laid down principles which entail that the rights of both parties are fulfilled in any financial transaction. If one party is given an unfair advantage in a scenario then the other party has a right to continue with the transaction of cancel it. If there is an element of risk, uncertainty, or if certain details, if left unclear, would lead to a dispute then these transactions are not endorsed by the Shariʿa, and both parties must cancel the sale (Marginānī, al-Hidāya).

In light of the above, both parties should look at their agreements and if either side has fallen short in delivering what the contracts entailed then they may either agree on a form of compensation for any deficiency in service, or overlook the deficiencies in favour of a healthy working relationship.

Justice and Forgiveness

A believer’s attitude is that he always strives to be just and fair in his dealings with other people, no matter what the scenario. The reason behind this is that Allah Most High loves those who are fair and just (al-Mumtaḥina,8). However, the believer is always willing to overlook the faults and and missteps of others, but this is usually reserved for his personal life. At work, one should act in a professional manner and not assume one has the liberty to waive financial rights without approval from the owners of the company.

Moving forward

For future contracts, all parties should clarify everything before that contract is finalised; they should also clarify what would be done if either party falls short on any aspect of the agreement. If any grievances do occur is it wise to resort to an independent third party for a settlement, and then accept their decision once it has been made.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 to study and sit at the feet of some of the most erudite scholars of our time.

Over the following eighteen months he studied a traditional curriculum, studying with scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish.

In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years, in Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Theology, Hadith Methodology and Commentary, Shama’il, and Logic with teachers such as Dr Ashraf Muneeb, Dr Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr Mansur Abu Zina amongst others. He was also given two licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabr and Shaykh Yahya Qandil.

His true passion, however, arose in the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, considered by many to be one of the foremost tafsir scholars of our time who provided him with the keys to the vast knowledge of the Quran. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic Sciences, Tafsir, Arabic Grammar, and Rhetoric.

When he finally left Jordan for the UK in 2014, Shaykh Ali gave him his distinct blessing and still recommends students in the UK to seek out Shaykh Abdul-Rahim for Quranic studies. Since his return he has trained as a therapist and has helped a number of people overcome emotional and psychosomatic issues. He is a keen promoter of emotional and mental health.