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LANDLORDS, TENANTS, EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES

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LANDLORDS, TENANTS, EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES

THE GUIDANCE OF THE SHARIAH

QUESTION

We need some clarification on some issues confronting us due to this Covid-19 lockdown. We are a company with numerous retail stores countrywide. We are  clothing retailers, hence do not come under the ‘essential’ goods  category.

Since the inception of the lockdown, all our stores  are closed. We have leases in place with all our landlords. Our landlords range from big property owners, malls and independent building owners.  Since we are not trading at all, we have no income from these stores. Our questions are:

(1)  Do we have to pay rental for this lockdown period?  What is the ruling of our Shariah?

(2) We have employees who are prohibited   from working due to the government’s lockdown order. What is our responsibility to them according to the Shariah?

ANSWER


1) The debacle and misery are the creation of the government. The entire nation has been cast into a dilemma and  hardship of an unprecedented nature. Every  unit of society has been placed under the yoke of suffering and oppression.

The government is responsible  for the massive disruption of the country’s economy, hence it is obliged to  come to the assistance of the populace although this is not expected of  the authorities who are generally of an indurate attitude  towards the miseries and hardships of the populace.

The Shariah takes into account reality. You have been prevented from your trading operations by the  short and ill-sighted  repressive law of the government. The situation is not of your making. The landlords  have to understand that  in the circumstances and  hardship created by the government, they are not entitled to rent. The scenario in which the entire country has been plunged is a calamity, not of the making of the people. It is tantamount to   ghasab (usurpation) perpetrated by the government which has prohibited all trading activities in the lease premises. 

The Shariah takes  cognizance the  massive abnormality of the situation. The landlords must be considerate and not demand rental in a calamitous  situation of extraordinary proportions which have ruined the economy of the country. In terms of the Shariah, both legally and morally,  the landlords cannot  claim rental for the lockdown period. You are not obliged to pay rent.

Should the landlords  apply pressure,  resort to the High Court  to restrain their unjust demands.  When  there has been a complete and total brake on trading it is tantamount  to the tenant  not having possession of the premises.

 

(2) From Islam’s Akhlaaqi (Moral) perspective, you are obliged to pay the employees. If your  company has the finances to pay the employees, it is duti-bound to pay them for the lockdown period. The thawaab is immense.  It is a Deeni moral obligation for which  you will be  abundantly rewarded by Allah Ta’ala. Take into account their suffering. They have  families to feed.  Employers should not  act callously.

14 Sha’baan 1441 - 8 April 2020

 

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