2 - Al Baqara (The cow)

4 Tafsir(s) related to verse 2.282

Al-Jalalayn

O you who believe, when you contract, when you are dealing with, a debt, such as in prepayment for (future) delivery of goods or a loan, one upon another for a stated, a known, term, write it down, as confirmation and security against any dispute; and let a writer write it, the contract of debt, down between you justly, accurately, not increasing or decreasing the amount or the terms; and let not any writer refuse to write it down, if he is requested for such a task, as God has taught him (the kāf of ka-mā, ‘as’, is semantically connected to the verb ya’ba, ‘refuse’), that is, just as He has given him the advantage of knowing how to write, he should not be niggardly in this respect; so let him write (repeated for emphasis), and let the debtor dictate, to the one writing the contract, for he is the one being witnessed, and must be fully aware of his obligations; and let him fear God his Lord, when dictating, and not diminish anything of it, of the debt due. And if the debtor be a fool, a squanderer, or weak, not up to dictating on account of old age or immaturity, or unable to dictate himself, on account of being dumb, or not knowing the language and so forth, then let his guardian, the one in charge of his affairs, be it a parent, an executor, a custodian or an interpreter, dictate justly. And summon to bear witness, the debt, two witnesses, men, mature Muslim free men; or if the two, witnesses, be not men, then one man and two women, to bear witness, such witnesses as you approve of, on account of their piety and probity; the number of women is because of the fact, so that if one of the two women errs, forgets the testimony, given their lesser astuteness and accuracy; the other, the one remembering, will remind her (read fa-tudhakkira or fa-tudhkira), the one that has forgotten — the ‘reminding’ clause is the reason [for the choice of two women], that is to say, so that she may be reminded if she errs or strays into error, because this [forgetfulness] is the cause of it (a variant reading [for an, ‘that’] has the conditional in, ‘if’, with [the verb inflected as] tudhakkiru, ‘she will remind’, making it a new sentence, the response to which [follows]); and let the witnesses not refuse, whenever (the mā of idhā mā, ‘whenever’, is extra) they are summoned, to bear witness and take responsibility for the testimony; and be not disdainful, lazy, to write it down, that which you have witnessed in truth (for this frequently occurred), be it, small or great, a little or much, with its term, that is, the date on which it is due (ilā ajlihi is a circumstantial qualifier referring to the [pronominal suffix] hā’ of taktubū-hu, ‘you write it down’); that, writing down, is more equitable, more just, in God’s sight, more upright for testimony, that is to say, [that is] more helpful in summoning witness, because it contains the reminder; and nearer, closer to attaining [the desired state] that you will not be in doubt, with regard to the amount and the due dates; unless it be, [that] there is, trade carried out there and then (tijāratun hādiratun: a variant reading has tijāratan hādiratan, in which case the nominal sentence is missing its subject, and must be the pronoun for tijāra, ‘trade’, that is, hiya, ‘it [fem.

Al-Qushairi

O you who believe, when you contract a debt, one upon another for a stated term, write it down; and let a writer write it down between you justly; and let not any writer refuse to write it down, as God has taught him; so let him write, and let the debtor dictate; and let him fear God his Lord, and not diminish anything of it. And if the debtor be a fool, or weak, or unable to dictate himself, then let his guardian dictate justly. And summon to bear witness, two witnesses, men; or if the two be not men, then one man and two women, such witnesses as you approve of, so that if one of the two women errs; the other will remind her; and let the witnesses not refuse, whenever they are summoned; and be not disdainful to write it down, small or great, with its term; that is more equitable in God's sight, more upright for testimony, and nearer, that you will not be in doubt, unless it be trade carried out there and then that you give and take between you, then you will not be at fault if you do not write it down. And take witnesses when you are trading with one another. And let not either writer or witness be pressed; and if you do, that is sinfulness in you. And fear God. God teaches you and God knows all things. * And if you are upon a journey, and you do not find a writer, then a pledge in hand. But if one of you trusts another, let him who is trusted, deliver his trust, and let him fear God his Lord. And do not conceal the testimony; whoever conceals it, his heart is sinful; and God knows what you do.

God (s) has commanded creatures to act with sincerity (ṣidq). He taught them the particulars of their transactions with one other, and to adopt cautiousness and witnessing so that no injury will occur between them. That is in accordance with His mercy towards them and follows from His kindness to them, so that they will not argue with one another. He commanded the strengthening of rights in writing and taking witnesses. The command to witnesses is to take on the responsibility and execution of the task.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

From this it is deduced that the term for a debt must be specified.

This warns against a common practice: friends and relatives do not put debt agreements into formal writing, for such a thing, according to them, shows lack of trust. Allah admonishes that agreements concerning debt and business should be recorded and testified by witnesses in order to keep the affairs of the people clean. A Tradition of the Holy Prophet says that three kinds of the people cry out to Allah for help but are not answered: first, those who have ill tempered wives but do not divorce them; second, those who are entrusted with the property of orphans but return it to them before they attain maturity; third, those who lend money to others without any document or evidence.

"From among you": from among the Muslims. Imam Abu Hanifah, holds the opinion that the non-Muslims also can be made the witnesses.

As the establishment of the truth of a case depends to a great degree on the reliability of witnesses, a very high standard of qualification is demanded of them. Only those persons who are known to lead respectable lives and bear good moral character and are honest should be made the witnesses.

Even in the case of those transactions which are carried out on the spot in everyday business, it is better to record them; nevertheless there is no harm if commercial transactions carried on daily between neighbouring traders are not recorded.

It implies two things. No one should be forced to become a scribe or a witness against his will, and no one should harass the scribe or the witness just because he gives true evidence against the interests of a party.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

Allah then taught them what they ought to learn in their dealings, saying: (O ye who believe!) in Allah and His Messenger (when ye contract a debt for a fixed term, record it) i.e. the debt (in writing. Let a scribe record it in writing between you) the indebted person and the creditor (in (terms of) equity) justice. (No scribe should refuse to write) the contract between the creditor and the debtor (as Allah hath taught him) how to write, (so let him write) the contract without addition or omission, (and let him who incurreth the debt dictate) i.e. the indebted person should explain to the scribe the debt he owes, (and let him observe his duty to Allah his Lord) let the indebted person fear his Lord, (and diminish naught thereof) and not diminish any amount of debt he owes upon dictation. (But if he who oweth the debt is of low understanding) is ignorant of dictation, (or weak) unable to dictate, (or unable himself to dictate) does not know how to dictate to the scribe, (then let the guardian of his interests dictate) the guardian of his wealth who is the creditor (in (terms of) equity) without any addition. (And call to witness) for your rights, (from among your men, two witnesses) from among your free, Muslim men who are of good character. (And if two men be not (at hand) then a man and two women, of such as ye approve as witnesses) from among people who are reliable in their witness, (so that if the one erreth (through forgetfulness)) so that if one of the women forgets (the other) who did not forget (will remind her. And the witnesses must not refuse) to give witness (when they are summoned) to court. (Be not averse) disinclined (to writing down) i.e. the debt (whether it be small or great, with (record of) the term thereof. That) i.e. that which I mentioned regarding the writing down of the debt (is more equitable) more correct and fairer (in the sight of Allah and more sure for testimony) clearer for the witness when he gives his testimony if he happens to forget, (and the best way of avoiding doubt between you) concerning the debt and the fixed term of its payment; (save only in the case when it is actual merchandise which you transfer among yourselves from hand to hand.