Do I Need To Write a Contract if I Lend Someone Money?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Dr. Bassem Itani 


Do I need to write a contract if I lend someone money?


In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate and Most Merciful

The Importance of Documenting Debt

Documenting debt in a written contract with witnesses is recommended (mandub), and there is no sin in not writing such a contract.

Documenting debt is legally vital as it preserves the money for the other party through writing. It is a way to formalize the deferred debt between creditor and debtor. It provides security against forgetting for both parties and protection against debt denial by the debtor.

Jurisprudential Basis: Quranic Guidance

Jurists deduced the recommendation of writing the contract from Allah’s saying:

“O believers! When you contract a loan for a fixed period of time, commit it to writing. Let the scribe maintain justice between the parties.” [Quran, 2:282]

Here, the command implies recommendation.

Clarification: Command Implying Recommendation

You might wonder how the jurists deduced the recommendation from this verse, as the command seems to imply obligation. While a command typically implies obligation, it becomes a recommendation if there is an indication to that effect. Here, the following Quranic context provides such an indication:

“If you trust one another, then ˹there is no need for a security, but˺ the debtor should honour this trust ˹by repaying the debt˺—and let them fear Allah.” [Quran, 2:283]

This implies that if creditors trust debtors, not securing the debt with writing, witnesses, or a mortgage, they should still fulfill the debt entrusted to them. [Abu al-Barakat Abdullah ibn Ahmad Al-Nasafi. Madarik al-Tanzil wa Haqa’iq al-Ta’wil. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al-Kalam Al-Tayyib, 1st edition, 1419 AH – 1998 AD, 1.227–228]

The Role of Documentation: Preventing Disputes

Dear questioner, documenting in writing serves as a reference in disputes, which are common due to human nature that often exceeds limits in greed. Many unjustly consume each other’s wealth in disputes, so documentation is advised to preserve each party’s rights.

Shaykh Dr. Bassem Itani

Shaykh Dr. Bassem Hussayn Itani was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1965. He earned his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies in 2005. Among his mentors were Shaykh Muhammad Taha Sukkar, Shaykh Adib al-Kallas, Shaykh Mulla Abdul ‘Alim al-Zinki, Shaykh Abdul Rahman al-Shaghouri, Shaykh Abdul Razzaq al-Halabi, Shaykh Dr. Mustafa Dib al-Bugha, Shaykh Dr. Wahba al-Zuhayli, Dr. Muhammad al-Zuhayli, and others, may Allah have mercy on them all. 

Shaykh Itani has a rich background in both academic and administrative fields. He has held significant positions in many governmental and non-governmental institutions in Lebanon and abroad. This includes his role as a member of the Academic Committee at SeekersGuidance and a senior teacher with the free online global seminary.

From 2020 to 2021, he served as the Dean of the College of Da‘wa – University for Islamic Studies (Lebanon) – Postgraduate Studies. He was the Director of Dar Iqra for Islamic Sciences from 1998 to 2018. Shaykh Itani is a well-versed teacher in several academic subjects, including Fiqh, Usul, Aqida, and Tafsir. He has supervised and examined numerous Master’s and Doctoral theses at various universities and colleges in Lebanon.

His contributions to Islamic sciences are also evident in his writings and research. His notable works include “The Relied-upon Statements of Imam Zufar in the Hanafi School,” “Collective Ijtihad: The Sublimity of Thought in the 21st Century,” and “Custom and its Impact in Islamic Jurisprudence.” Shaykh Itani has actively participated in numerous scientific conferences and seminars, both in Lebanon and internationally. He is linguistically adept, excelling in Arabic, proficient in French, and comfortably conversant in English.