The Quran

Commentaries for 2.280

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.280 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And if the debtor) the Banu Makhzum (is in straitened circumstances, then (let there be) postponement to (the time of) ease; and that ye remit the debt as almsgiving would be better for you) than being paid or postponing the debt (if ye did but know) this.
2.280 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And if any man, in debt, should be in difficulties, then, let him have, respite, a postponement, till things are easier (read maysara or maysura, meaning ‘a time of ease’); but that you should give (tassaddaqū, where the second tā’ of the softened form, tatasaddaqū, has been assimilated with the sād), the one in difficulty, a voluntary almsgiving, by waiving his debt, is better for you, did you but know, [if you know] that it is better for you, then do it. In a hadīth it is said, ‘Whoever gives respite to one in difficulty, or waives his debt, God will place him under His shade, on a day when there shall be no shade except God’s’, as reported by Muslim.
2.278-281 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Necessity of Taqwa and Avoiding Riba
Allah commands His believing servants to fear Him and warns them against what would bring them closer to His anger and drive them away from His pleasure. Allah said,
يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ
(O you who believe! Have Taqwa of Allah) meaning, fear Him and remember that He is watching all that you do.
وَذَرُواْ مَا بَقِىَ مِنَ الرِّبَواْ
(And give up what remains of Riba) meaning, abandon the Riba that people still owe you upon hearing this warning,
إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
(if you indeed have been believers) believing in the trade that He allowed you and the prohibition of Riba. Zayd bin Aslam, Ibn Jurayj, Muqatil bin Hayyan and As-Suddi said that this Ayah was revealed about Bani `Amr bin `Umayr, a sub-tribe of Thaqif, and Bani Al-Mughirah, from the tribe of Bani Makhzum, between whom were outstanding transactions of Riba leftover from time of Jahiliyyah. When Islam came and both tribes became Muslims, Thaqif required Bani Al-Mughirah to pay the Riba of that transaction, but Bani Al-Mughirah said, "We do not pay Riba in Islam.'' `Attab bin Usayd, the Prophet's deputy on Makkah, wrote to the Messenger of Allah about this matter. This Ayah was then revealed and the Messenger of Allah conveyed it to `Attab,
يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ وَذَرُواْ مَا بَقِىَ مِنَ الرِّبَواْ إِن كُنتُمْ مُّؤْمِنِينَ
فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُواْ فَأْذَنُواْ بِحَرْبٍ مّنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ
(O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah and give up what remains (due to you) from Riba (from now onward), if you are (really) believers. And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger.)
They said, "We repent to Allah and abandon whatever is left of our Riba'', and they all abandoned it This Ayah serves as a stern threat to those who continue to deal in Riba after Allah revealed this warning.
Riba Constitutes War Against Allah and His Messenger
Ibn Jurayj said that Ibn `Abbas said that,
فَأْذَنُواْ بِحَرْبٍ
(then take a notice of war) means, "Be sure of a war from Allah and His Messenger.'' He also said, "On the Day of Resurrection, those who eat Riba will be told, `take up arms for war.''' He then recited,
فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُواْ فَأْذَنُواْ بِحَرْبٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ
(And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger.)
`Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn `Abbas said about,
فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُواْ فَأْذَنُواْ بِحَرْبٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ
(And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger,) "Whoever kept dealing with Riba and did not refrain from it, then the Muslim Leader should require him to repent. If he still did not refrain from Riba, the Muslim Leader should cut off his head.''
Allah then said,
وَإِن تُبتُمْ فَلَكُمْ رُءُوسُ أَمْوَلِكُمْ لاَ تَظْلِمُونَ
(But if you repent, you shall have your capital sums. Deal not unjustly) by taking the Riba,
وَلاَ تُظْلَمُونَ
(And you shall not be dealt with unjustly) meaning, your original capital will not diminish. Rather, you will receive only what you lent without increase or decrease. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Amr bin Al-Ahwas said, "The Messenger of Allah gave a speech during the Farewell Hajj saying;
«أَلَا إِنَّ كُلَّ رِبًا كَانَ فِي الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ، مَوْضُوعٌ عَنْكُمْ كُلُّهُ، لَكُمْ رُؤُوسُ أَمْوَالِكُم لَا تَظْلِمُونَ وَلَاتُظْلَمُونَ، وَأَوَّلُ رِبًا مَوْضُوعٍ، رِبَا الْعَبَّاسِ بْنِ عَبْدِالْمُطَّلِبِ مَوْضُوعٌ كُلُّه»
(Verily, every case of Riba from the Jahiliyyah is completely annulled. You will only take back your capital, without increase or decrease. The first Riba that I annul is the Riba of Al-`Abbas bin `Abdul-Muttalib, all of it is annulled.)
Being Kind to Debtors Who Face Financial Difficulties
Allah said,
وَإِن كَانَ ذُو عُسْرَةٍ فَنَظِرَةٌ إِلَى مَيْسَرَةٍ وَأَن تَصَدَّقُواْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
(And if the debtor is having a hard time, then grant him time till it is easy for him to repay; but if you remit it by way of charity, that is better for you if you did but know.) Allah commands creditors to be patient with debtors who are having a hard time financially,
وَإِن كَانَ ذُو عُسْرَةٍ فَنَظِرَةٌ إِلَى مَيْسَرَةٍ
(And if the debtor is having a hard time (has no money), then grant him time till it is easy for him to repay.)
During the time of Jahiliyyah, when the debt came to term, the creditor would say to the debtor, "Either pay now or interest will be added to the debt.''
Allah encouraged creditors to give debtors respite regarding their debts and promised all that is good, and a great reward from Him for this righteous deed,
وَأَن تَصَدَّقُواْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
(But if you remit it by way of charity, that is better for you if you did but know) meaning, if you forfeit your debts and cancel them completely.
Imam Ahmad recorded that Sulayman bin Buraydah said that his father said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah say,
«مَنْ أَنْظَرَ مُعْسِرًا، فَلَهُ بِكُلِّ يَوْمٍ مِثْلُهُ صَدَقَة»
(Whoever gives time to a debtor facing hard times, will gain charity of equal proportions for each day he gives.)
I also heard the Prophet say,
«مَنْ أَنْظَرَ مُعْسِرًا، فَلَهُ بِكُلِّ يَوْمٍ مِثْلُهُ صَدَقَة»
(Whoever gives time to a debtor facing hard times, will earn charity multiplied two times for each day he gives.) I said, `O Messenger of Allah! I heard you say, `Whoever gives time to a debtor facing hard times, will gain charity of equal proportions for each day he gives.' I also heard you say, `Whoever gives time to a debtor facing hard times, will earn charity multiplied by two times for each day he gives.' He said,
«لَهُ بِكُلِّ يَومٍ مِثْلُهُ صَدَقَةٌ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَحِلَّ الدَّيْنُ، فَإِذَا حَلَّ الدَّيْنُ فَأَنْظَرَهُ، فَلَهُ بِكُلِّ يَوْمٍ مِثْلَاهُ صَدَقَة»
(He will earn charity of equal proportions for each day (he gives time) before the term of the debt comes to an end, and when the term comes to an end, he will again acquire charity multiplied by two times for each day if he gives more time.)''
Ahmad recorded that Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi said that Abu Qatadah had a debt on a man, who used to hide from Abu Qatadah when he looked for him to pay what he owed him. One day, Abu Qatadah came looking for the debtor and a young boy came out, and he asked him about the debtor and found out that he was in the house eating. Abu Qatadah said in a loud voice, "O Fellow! Come out, for I was told that you are in the house.'' The man came out and Abu Qatadah asked him, "Why are you hiding from me'' The man said, "I am having a hard time financially, and I do not have any money.'' Abu Qatadah said, "By Allah, are you truly facing a hard time'' He said, "Yes.'' Abu Qatadah cried and said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah say,
«مَنْ نَفَّسَ عَنْ غَرِيمِهِ أَوْ مَحَا عَنْهُ،كَانَ فِي ظِلِّ الْعَرْشِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَة»
(Whoever gives time to his debtor, or forgives the debt, will be in the shade of the Throne (of Allah) on the Day of Resurrection.)''
Muslim also recorded this Hadith in his Sahih.
Al-Hafiz Abu Ya`la Al-Mawsili recorded that Hudhayfah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«أُتِيَ اللهُ بِعَبْدٍمِنْ عَبِيدِهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ قَالَ: مَاذَا عَمِلْتَ لِي فِي الدُّنْيَا؟ فَقَالَ: مَا عَمِلْتُ لَكَ يَا رَبِّ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ فِي الدُّنْيَا أَرْجُوكَ بِهَا قَالَهَا ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ قَالَ الْعَبْدُعِنْدَ آخِرِهَا: يَا رَبِّ إِنَّكَ كُنْتَ أَعْطَيْتَنِي فَضْلَ مَالٍ، وَكُنْتُ رَجُلًا أُبَايِعُ النَّاسَ، وَكَانَ مِنْ خُلُقِي الْجَوازُ، فَكُنْتُ أُيَسِّرُ عَلَى الْمُوسِرِ وَأُنْظِرُ الْمُعْسِرَ، قَالَ: فَيَقُولُ اللهُ عَزَّوَجَلَّ: أَنَا أَحَقُّ مَنْ يُيَسِّرُ، ادْخُلِ الْجَنَّة»
(On the Day of Resurrection, one of Allah's servants will be summoned before Him and He will ask him, "What deeds did you perform for Me in your life'' He will say, "O Lord! In my life, I have not performed a deed for Your sake that equals an atom,'' three times. The third time, the servant will add, "O Lord! You granted me wealth and I used to be a merchant. I used to be lenient, giving easy terms to those well-off and giving time to the debtors who faced hard times.'' Allah will say, "I Am the Most Worthy of giving easy terms. Therefore, enter Paradise.'')
Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Ibn Majah also recorded this Hadith from Hudhayfah, and Muslim recorded a similar wording from `Uqbah bin `Amir and Abu Mas`ud Al-Badri. Allah further advised His servants, by reminding them that this life will soon end and all the wealth in it will vanish. He also reminded them that the Hereafter will surely come, when the Return to Him will occur, and that He will hold His creation accountable for what they did, rewarding them or punishing them accordingly. Allah also warned them against His torment,
وَاتَّقُواْ يَوْمًا تُرْجَعُونَ فِيهِ إِلَى اللَّهِ ثُمَّ تُوَفَّى كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَّا كَسَبَتْ وَهُمْ لاَ يُظْلَمُونَ
(And have Taqwa for the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah. Then every person shall be paid what he earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly.)
It was reported that this was the last Ayah revealed from the Glorious Qur'an. An-Nasa'i recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "The last Ayah to be revealed from the Qur'an was,
وَاتَّقُواْ يَوْمًا تُرْجَعُونَ فِيهِ إِلَى اللَّهِ ثُمَّ تُوَفَّى كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَّا كَسَبَتْ وَهُمْ لاَ يُظْلَمُونَ
(And have Taqwa for the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah. Then every person shall be paid what he earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly.'')
This is the same narration reported by Ad-Dahhak and Al-`Awfi from Ibn `Abbas.
2.278-281 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This verse was revealed after the conquest of Makkah, but was inserted here because it also deals with interest. Even before its revelation, interest was regarded as a hateful thing though it had not yet been legally forbidden. But after its revelation, money-lending on interest became a criminal offence in the Islamic State. Those clans who carried on this business in Arabia, were duly warned to give it up for otherwise a war would be declared against them. When the Christians of Najran were granted autonomy within the Islamic State, it was specified in the treaty that if they continued their money-lending business, the treaty would come to an end and there would be a state of war between the parties.
From the concluding portion of this verse, Ibn `Abbas, Hasan Basri, Ibn Sirin and Rubai'-bin-Anas have concluded that the one who takes interest in the Islamic State should be warned to repent of it, and if he does not give it up, he should be put to death. But the other jurists are of the opinion that he should be put in prison and kept there until he undertakes to give up this business.
This verse empowers an Islamic court of law to compel the creditors to give more time to the debtors for the payment of debts, if they are in such straitened circumstances that they cannot pay back their debts. Under certain circumstances, the court is entitled to write off the debt altogether or a part of it. A Tradition says that a man suffered loss in his business and came heavily under debt. When his case was taken to the Holy Prophet, he made an appeal to the people to help him out of it. Accordingly, the people made monetary contributions, but even then he could not clear all his debts. Then the Holy Prophet addressed the creditors and told them that they would have to be satisfied with whatever was collected for the payment of their debts. The jurists have explained that the house in which a tnan lives, his utensils, clothes and tools of trade can in no case be confiscated.
2.280 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
And if any man should be in difficulty then [let there be] respite till things are easier; but that you should give a voluntary almsgiving is better for you did you but know. When the insolvency of a detained man is determined before the judge it is not permissible to continue his detention. If the proof of the man's insolvency is demonstrated that [proof] is taken in security for what is due his adversary. But he is in a period of respite and delay. In that the Lord does not judge us but with His knowledge of our difficulties and weakness and the sincerity of our need for Him and our dedication to Him He is merciful with us. His words “till things are easier” [relate to] the poor insolvent man [who] has no way to obtain anything for himself except through what God سبحانه appoints for him as the portion of debtors. Income accrues to those who have the goods and the contract. What does the insolvent [person] have to do with itḍ What does the insolvent [person] have to do with profit in trade from the transformation of capital and what is done with itḍ What is left for the insolvent [person]ḍ The jurists say he must seek work if he is healthy. If he is weak then this [statement that he must seek work] applies only if he has enough physical strength. As for those who are bankrupt in vigor just as one is bankrupt in wealth what way remains for him except what his Protector appoints for himḍ
2.280 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(And if the debtor is in straitened circumstances…) [2:280]. Said al-Kalbi: “The Banu ‘Amr ibn ‘Umayr said to Banu’l-Mughirah: ‘Give us our capitals and we will spare you the payment of the usury on them’. The Banu’l-Mughirah said: ‘We are now in straitened circumstances, please give us some respite until the time of the harvest’. Banu’l-Mughirah refused this request. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed (And if the debtor is in straitened circumstances…)”.