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Property law in light of the Quran and modern legal system


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Author Topic: Property law in light of the Quran and modern legal system  (Read 56 times)
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« on: July 04, 2022, 11:06:17 am »
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Assalamualaikum wrt to all highly cherished and respected members of MV.

My question is with regards to property law in Islam as established in the Quran. Can someone please summarize the maximum extent of what owning property entails in the Quran and what are the common differences between Quranic prescription towards private property and the present day Western based system ruled by the common law?

For example, the Quran stresses the importances of wealth and private ownership by enjoining charity and alms giving, protecting inheritance rights, as well as strongly condemning acts of thievery and abuse of trust in the guardianship of another's wealth esp orphans. At the same time, Allah also state that ultimately every material substance belong to Allah and He can give and take these as He please. 

An example, the rate of poor people globally who own no property or land is exponentially greater than those who do. Many property owners be it individuals or organisations such as states or corporations consistently fail to beneficially utilise their property, focusing purely on immediate financial gain.

Can poor people thus use this as a legitimate reasoning to infringe upon these properties for purposes like farming, water extraction, digging for valuables etc in let say unused vacant lands that do not legally belong to them? In Western secular law the answer would be a straightforward no, as property owners are deemed to have absolute rights over their property and can act in despostic manner with full blessing of the legal system. My dilemma is, with more and more land/property/wealth being held in the hands of fewer and fewer people, what would be the appropriate course of action of the ever increasing global poor in securing the bounty of Allah that they as humans are also entitled to? Note that I am not advocating nor approving the forceful seizure of private poverty using violence such as that in communist countries.
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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2022, 07:08:22 pm »
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Walaikum As-Salam Wa Rehmatuallhi Wa Barakatuhu, brother.   Thank you for dropping by. 


“For example, the Quran stresses the importances of wealth and private ownership by enjoining charity and alms giving, protecting inheritance rights, as well as strongly condemning acts of thievery and abuse of trust in the guardianship of another's wealth esp orphans. At the same time, Allah also state that ultimately every material substance belong to Allah and He can give and take these as He please.” 


Absolutely right.



“Can poor people thus use this as a legitimate reasoning to infringe upon these properties for purposes like farming, water extraction, digging for valuables etc in let say unused vacant lands that do not legally belong to them? In Western secular law the answer would be a straightforward no, as property owners are deemed to have absolute rights over their property and can act in despostic manner with full blessing of the legal system. My dilemma is, with more and more land/property/wealth being held in the hands of fewer and fewer people, what would be the appropriate course of action of the ever increasing global poor in securing the bounty of Allah that they as humans are also entitled to? Note that I am not advocating nor approving the forceful seizure of private poverty using violence such as that in communist countries.”

This may not have a single answer.  There can be plenty of subjective issues that determine the course of action including the approach you stated that could be acceptable in view of the wider Quranic perspective. 

Let me analyze this matter in the Light of the Noble Quran as best as I can.

There are issues here that belong to the unseen.  This alludes to facts and matters which The Almighty observes and on the basis of which He makes decisions for every person including their earthly assets.   "Allah makes the provision wide for whom He will of His bondmen, and straightens it for whom (He will).  Indeed, Allah is Aware of all things.”  29:62 Al-Ankabut."  Thus many  factors in each individual’s life (unseen by us) is taken into consideration by The Almighty while deciding  their provision.  “And if Allah were to enlarge the provision for His slaves they would surely rebel in the earth, but He sends down by measure as He wills. Indeed, He is Informed, a Seer of His bondmen.”  42:27 Ash-Shura.  Here again as  The Almighty has mentioned an innate human phenomenon, which, if unfolded, only He knows the extent of  devastation it would cause. 

The purpose of the Divine Revelation is not to bring a radical, overnight change in the society.  Thus, though the Noble Quran explicitly discourages slavery, at the same time it promotes the eradication of slavery through a gradual process rather than an abrupt uprising, the purpose being to minimize the chances of chaos, bloodshed and anarchy.
Re:  Slavery and its abolition in the light of the Quran and The term 'right hand possesses'

In the overall message of the Noble Quran, The Almighty has made it clear that the intellectual capacity to generate wisdom and financial strength of every person is different.  Humans have been bestowed with the ability to choose their path of conduct and make decisions which consequently carves their character often through tests and trials.  The decision of The Almighty is of course the ultimate based on the choices made by humans.  "Indeed, Allah changes not the condition of a folk until they (first) change that which is in their hearts;"  13:11 Ar-Rad.

Another point .. hard work and effort even if that is for attaining earthly materials is never wasted in the Sight of Allah, including the earthly hard work of those who disbelieve.  If a person disbelieves and does nothing to benefit their soul in the Hereafter, but works hard for earthly riches, they will likely be granted what they diligently pursue but won't have any share in the Hereafter.   "Whoso desires that (life) which hastens away, We hasten for him therein what We will for whom We please. And afterward We have appointed for him hell; he will endure the heat thereof, condemned, rejected.    And whoso desires the Hereafter and strives for it with the effort necessary, being a believer; for such, their effort finds favor (with their Rab).    Each do We supply, both these and those, from the bounty of your Rab. And the bounty of your Rab can never be walled up."  17:18-20  Al-Isra.

Uneven distribution of wealth has been an aspect that has existed in this world for millenniums and Allah Almighty refers to this specific ambience as something to reflect upon.   "See they not that Allah enlarges the provision for whom He will, and straightens (it for whom He will). Lo, herein indeed are portents for folk who believe."  30:37 Ar-Rum.   As I understand, vigilantism is not something that’s highly recommended as per Quranic values unless the situation is dire ensuing from the strong using their authority to override the entitlements of the weak e.g. widespread economic exploitation leading to community-wide famine / starvation / joblessness or political / civil unrest leading to mass bloodshed etc.  Such matters are of a different category and no doubt those at the receiving end are entitled to do whatever they can to sustain themselves if the law is not on their side.

Generally however, the Noble Quran promotes the concept of the rich sharing their wealth with the less fortunate through giving and charitable means rather than mandatory policies or vigilante activities.  If a wealthy community misuses its privilege, they can be prevented or corrected depending on the nature of the violation through legal applications available within the legal system.  However if a rich person is personally or temperamentally self centered who isn’t interested in giving, it’s undoubtedly a very negative approach, but it probably wouldn’t justify intervention of other humans to forcibly distribute a portion of that person’s wealth among themselves.   The decision needs to be left with The Almighty.

To conclude, it would be interesting to focus on two more Verses of the Noble Quran concerning this topic of discussion.

“And Allah has favored some of you above others in provision. Now those who are more favored will by no means hand over their provision to those (slaves) whom their right hands possess, so that they may be equal with them in respect thereof. Is it then the grace of Allah that they deny?”  16:71 An-Nahl.

The above Verse 16:71 is basically an analogy telling the disbelievers that while they wouldn’t make their slaves and servants partners in their wealth, yet they have no hesitation ascribing partners with Allah Almighty.  This point has been more directly elucidated in V.30:28 Surah Rum.   The other information contained in Verse 16:71 is the assertion that everyone in this planet has not been bestowed with equal financial resources (which depend on and are linked with various factors, the relevant specifics of which are known to Allah only). Furthermore, a person of wealth who may have acquired riches based on their hard work or the hard work of their family is not obligated to share their wealth with their slaves and servants.  This aspect is taken as a standard constituent of the human society and not denounced by the Quran for the simple reason that pressuring (or coercing) someone to give away a chunk of the yields of their hard work to others (as a permanent practice) would amount to injustice to that person, be they rich or poor.  After all, injustice is just that.  It must neither be inflicted on the poor nor the rich. 

“O you who believe! Be staunch in justice, witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or (your) parents or (your) kindred, whether (the case be of) a rich man or a poor man, for Allah is nearer unto both. So follow not passion lest you lapse ….”  4:135  An-Nissa.  
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2022, 10:43:15 pm »
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Jazakallahu khayran Sr. Heba, your clarity in thought and practical wisdom that are finely tuned according to Quranic principles are huge blessings to all fortunate enough to interact with you. Everything you stated makes absolutely perfect sense and I agree with them all.

However, I would appreciate your opinion on a particular scenario that is occurring near me. I live in a highly urbanized community with fuzzy ordinance and urban farming is a popular activity among local residents. However, people tend to do this by clearing nearby forests or bushland on vacant properties or council held ones that obviously do not belong to them.

The result is undeniably positive, there are beautiful flowers, fruit trees and vegetables growing all over the neighbourhood. My neighbours often would gift me with some of their garden harvest which I would enjoy with my family. Yet I am unsure of the ethical and legal implications of such outwardly positive endeavours, both the farming and the consumption of the harvest. It seem to be in conflict with the concept of private property and earning through rightful wealth Allah has blessed us with. My property have little to no practical space for farming or a garden but just outside my back walls is a overgrown forest on government
held land that would be excellent for both. Would it be advisable for me to use this otherwise unmaintained land to establish a small garden for personal consumption like many of my neighbours? Or would I be acting against the principles of Islam?

Thank you and may Allah always shower His blessings on all MV members for your unshakeable commitment to His words in the Noble Quran.






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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2022, 10:44:56 pm »
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Can poor people thus use this as a legitimate reasoning to infringe upon these properties for purposes like farming, water extraction, digging for valuables etc in let say unused vacant lands that do not legally belong to them? 

Walaykom Salam Wr Br.   No brother, no one can be permitted to do such a thing whether poor or rich.  It would amount to sowing seeds of anarchism.  The "unused vacant lands" got to belong to someone after all.  Though I fully understand your concern and  it's very distressing to watch the marginalized ones deprived of so much in life, no one can be given the permission to encroach on someone else's property.  Particularly in an overcrowded planet of nearly 8 billion people as of present, imagine the lawlessness, chaos and disorder that would ensue if every person who feels deprived was allowed to trespass and take over another person's property.   I think the Quran makes this point very clear and the Verses in regard to it are already quoted by Sister Heba.   The responsibility must be taken by a decent government focused on building a welfare state .. to whatever extent possible.
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« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2022, 11:16:58 pm »
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....  I live in a highly urbanized community with fuzzy ordinance and urban farming is a popular activity among local residents. However, people tend to do this by clearing nearby forests or bushland on vacant properties or council held ones that obviously do not belong to them.
The result is undeniably positive, there are beautiful flowers, fruit trees and vegetables growing all over the neighbourhood.

Indeed that sounds nice and productive.  Frankly this is the first time of learning of such an occurrence in present times.  If the land is confirmed as 'no man's land' with no ownership at all, then I guess it might be okay for volunteers to cultivate it and benefit the community.  But if these are council owned properties then it would be a different matter.  First off it would amount to encroachment which is not appreciated according to Quranic values.  Secondly, it's not secure either.  Even if the owners haven't objected until now, they may any time in future and then the 'illegal' occupants will have no choice but to clear away.


My property have little to no practical space for farming or a garden but just outside my back walls is a overgrown forest on government
held land that would be excellent for both. Would it be advisable for me to use this otherwise unmaintained land to establish a small garden for personal consumption like many of my neighbours? Or would I be acting against the principles of Islam?

No brother, obviously not a good idea for the reason I already mentioned .. unless you apply for legal permission from the government department that holds it and they grant permission.  But since the land is under government ownership, just because it's neglected is legally not an acceptable reason for someone else to tidy it and plant their own garden .. even though this might sound nice.  It's not supported by Quranic principles, and it would be rife with uncertainty for you for you never know when you could be evicted.  After all, it's not your property.  It belongs to someone else. 

However, it's very good of you to consider the ethical side of such a decision from the Islamic perspective with the view of implementing the honest principles  of our beautiful Faith in our lives.  Allah bless.
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« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2022, 11:47:56 pm »
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Jazakallahu khayran Br. TS for your valued perspective.

Just to clarify Br., local residents clear up these patches of land purely for subsistence scale cultivation and gardening. Most are fully aware that they have no right to establish any kind of permanent structures or residence there, or expect any kind of legal protection or long term security.  Basically since the land is there, it's nearby their homes and there are no gates or walls blocking entrance...why not utilise it to grow food or flowers now while they can and if the rightful landowners decide to remove the plants in the future, so be it. The reasoning is crudely utilitarian, yet it works atleast on surface level in extracting benefits from what otherwise would been neglected plots of land for years if not decades.

As for my own interest in setting up a garden, I fully agree that obtaining prior permission from the local government body would be the most appropriate course of action and one that would most reflect Quranic principles. I have absolutely no right as things stand to modify the land in any way as it is outside the boundary of my property. 
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« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2022, 11:51:28 pm »
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Walaikum As-Salaam.  Interesting read.  This prompts  me to briefly mention another story.  In my country of origin, outside the compound wall of our family house was an approximately 6 feet wide stretch of land half way around our house.  Officially it belonged to the municipality but not quite, in that, the upkeep and  maintenance of that area was officially the responsibility of my dad, the owner of our family house.  Keeping it neat proved to be difficult as the passers-by, seeing an empty stretch of land, kept littering it with garbage like scraps of paper, empty coke cans, candy wrappers etc.  My dad had a friend who needed a small space to run a little nursery of plants arranged in flowering pots.  My dad told him that he was welcomed to put up his little nursery in that area (totally free of charges of course).  It was a very pretty and well decorated nursery.  Once it came about, the pedestrians  knew the land was in use and no one littered it any more.  It looked pretty and tidy.  My dad's friend was very happy;  we were very happy.  Our headache of cleaning it every couple of days was no more.  The municipality was informed by us and they had no objections .. neither were they in a position to object as they didn't want to take the responsibility of maintaining it.  So they had to allow us to take care of it our way.  

We analyzed the matter and were sure it did not violate Quranic principles.
   
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« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2022, 11:55:54 pm »
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@Sister Zaianb .. sounds like a great way of settling an issue   😀

Alhumdulilah.
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2022, 12:03:15 am »
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Jazakallahu khayran Br. TS for your valued perspective.

Just to clarify Br., local residents clear up these patches of land purely for subsistence scale cultivation and gardening. Most are fully aware that they have no right to establish any kind of permanent structures or residence there, or expect any kind of legal protection or long term security.  Basically since the land is there, it's nearby their homes and there are no gates or walls blocking entrance...why not utilise it to grow food or flowers now while they can and if the rightful landowners decide to remove the plants in the future, so be it ......   


Correct, I get your point.
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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2022, 01:35:52 am »
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.......

local residents clear up these patches of land purely for subsistence scale cultivation and gardening. Most are fully aware that they have no right to establish any kind of permanent structures or residence there, or expect any kind of legal protection or long term security.  ...why not utilise it to grow food or flowers now while they can and if the rightful landowners decide to remove the plants in the future, so be it. ........

Well yes, if they simply want to get something productive out of unused land for as long as they can, not for the purpose of being dependent on it for a long-term livelihood and ready to quit whenever the landowner makes a fuss, then it's okay.   In that case I just hope the official authorities don't harass those poor guys demanding monetary penalties for temporarily using their land without their consent. 
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« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2022, 01:39:21 am »
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  ...... My dad's friend was very happy;  we were very happy.  Our headache of cleaning it every couple of days was no more.  The municipality was informed by us and they had no objections .. neither were they in a position to object as they didn't want to take the responsibility of maintaining it.  So they had to allow us to take care of it our way.    

So this means the municipality got nailed because of its own lazy rules not wanting to clean up that area 😊
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« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2022, 01:41:44 am »
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 😄 that's a fine interpretation of that episode.
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« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2022, 02:31:09 am »
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  In that case I just hope the official authorities don't harass those poor guys demanding monetary penalties for temporarily using their land without their consent.

The thing is , I don't believe anyone here is doing these out of poverty . Most own homes  and cars and have jobs that allow them to purchase any agricultural produce readily  from the shops. As such the main motivation appears to be as a hobby and a genuine desire to beautify their surrounding environment without going through the huge expenses of acquiring land or face the bureaucracy of the local council or municipalities. I am not sure though but I do feel conflicted when I receive gifts in the form of fresh harvest from neighbours as I am not sure if it's halal to consume these.

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