A few years ago I lent someone $200,000. The arrangement was that he would give me a parcel of land instead of repaying the loan. After two years he is saying he cannot sell the land (because of legal reasons). Can I now demand back the original sum plus approx. $25,000 for the two years passed?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
If the person is now unable to sell you the parcel of land in exchange of the money lent, it is permissible to demand back the original sum of money that was lent. However is would not be permissible to ask back for any increase in the original sum. Any surplus will be regarded as interest which Shariah strictly prohibits and condemns.
The Quran explicitly warns against the use of interest,
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَذَرُوا مَا بَقِيَ مِنَ الرِّبَا إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ. فَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلُوا فَأْذَنُوا بِحَرْبٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ.
“O those who believe, fear Allah and give up what still remains of the Riba(interest) if you are believers. But if you do not then listen to the declaration of war from Allah and His Messenger”. (AlBaqarah, verse 278,279)
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَأْكُلُوا الرِّبَا أَضْعَافًا مُضَاعَفَةً وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ.
“O you who believe! Eat not Ribâ (usury) doubled and multiplied, but fear Allâh that you may be successful.”(Al Imran verse 130).
Hence, it is not permissible to demand back more than the given sum because of loss opportunities or inflation etc.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Mufti Arshad Ali
Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad)
This answer was collected from Fatwa-tt.com, which is operated by the Darul Iftaa of Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad and Tobago) under the advice and guidance of Mufti Ebrahim Desai (Daamat Barakaatuhum) of South Africa.