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Taxi company charging a toll fee

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Muftionline.co.za

Q: I live in the city of Sharjah (UAE) and often take a taxi to go to the neighboring city of Dubai (UAE). Whenever a person takes a taxi from Sharjah to Dubai, there is a 20 Dirham toll that the taxi company charges the customer (in addition to whatever the journey itself costs). To avoid this charge, customers often take a taxi to the border of Sharjah & Dubai, where they stop right at the border, and then walk into Dubai, and take a Dubai taxi to continue their journey.

Now a few years ago, there were some journeys I took (from Sharjah to Dubai) where sometimes the driver himself suggested that he would take me to Dubai without charging the 20 Dirham toll (probably so that I don’t stop at the border and then continue my journey in a Dubai cab). He would simply not plug the charge into the meter. Other times I suggested to the taxi driver to take me to Dubai without charging the 20 Dirham toll.

The issue is that this money belonged to the taxi companies, and not to the driver or me. The driver was merely an employee of the company and I was their customer. So it is a form of stealing & deception because the taxi company did not waive the 20 dirham toll in any of those instances.

I was investigating how to go about returning the money or to give it in charity on behalf of the taxi companies. However, I got two different opinions (from scholars) on whether I should in fact pay at all.

a) One opinion is that since I was the customer, it is my responsibility to return the money to its rightful owners, or give it in charity on their behalf. The taxi driver was merely an agent (or intermediary) between myself and the company.

b) The second opinion is that I do not have to pay anything because the driver (being the employee of the company) was the responsible party. He knew full well what the rules of the company are, and as their employee, he made the decision to agree with my suggestion (or in some situations initiated the suggestion himself) and not charge the 20 Dirham toll. The scholar who gave this opinion said that the driver might have done so to meet his monthly target (or for whatever other reason), and that I was not responsible to return any money to the taxi companies.

Could you please advise which opinion is the correct one, and what I should do?

Bismillaah

A: If the taxi company is including the toll fee in their charge on account of them being charged the toll fee by the government for using the road, then it will be permissible for the taxi company to include this charge in their transport charge. In this case, the money should be returned to the taxi company. However, if the taxi company is charging this fee of their own for taking the customer across, then since this fee is not in lieu of any service which they are providing to the customer (as they are charging the customer for transport service separately), it will not be permissible for them to charge the customer this additional fee. In this case, this additional charge will not have to be paid.

And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.

 

Answered by:

Mufti Zakaria Makada

Checked & Approved:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)

This answer was collected from MuftiOnline.co.za, where the questions have been answered by Mufti Zakaria Makada (Hafizahullah), who is currently a senior lecturer in the science of Hadith and Fiqh at Madrasah Ta’leemuddeen, Isipingo Beach, South Africa.

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