Q: In 2016 I paid an agent £19500 for a Hajj package for four people (myself, my wife and my two daughters). Just after ramadhan 2016, my eldest daughter had an operation and so she could not travel. As such, my eldest daughter and my wife had to cancel their Hajj trip.
As the trip was already paid for, I arranged with the agent for my niece and her husband to join my daughter and I for Hajj from Zambia.
They applied for their visa in Zambia and booked their flight tickets from Zambia as they were going to join us in Jeddah. After they arranged and paid for everything, they had to cancel their trip as my agent in the UK did not apply for our visa and gave our package to another party.
I had to compensate my niece for all costs which came to over £500. My agent refused to give us a refund in 2016 and made the excuse that the visa was refused so he will take us for Hajj in 2017.
In early 2017, the agent had a very bad accident and was in hospital for a few months. Due to the accident, he did not do any Hajj packages but kept promising me that he will take us for Hajj with another group. However, it never materialised and he was still refusing to give me a refund. I subsequently took him to court and got a judgement against him as well as his company for my payment to him as well as the compensation that I had to give to my niece plus costs for the claim.
The agent did not have any money to pay me as per the judgement and so his old partner interceded for him to come to a compromise. Hence, we agreed that the agent would pay me £1000, which he did, towards the claim costs and that he would take us for Hajj in 2018 with a third party.
The agent arranged a package for us with a third party on the basis that when he got his Hajj visa license for 2018, he would give it to the third party in exchange of our Hajj package. The visa license depended on the agent getting a license which he has not received as yet, and so he has not been able to get the visas this year.
The agent came to see me a few weeks ago and apologised for all the inconvenience. He told me that he cannot take us for Hajj this year as he has not received his license and as such, he cannot get the Hajj visa to compensate the third party for our Hajj package. He promised me that as soon as he gets his license approved, he will give me my certificate for the Hajj package so if he does not take me for Hajj in 2019, I can claim from the organisation which issued the certificate.
Similarly, without me asking, he gave me the following two choices as a means of compensating me.
1. When he takes me for Hajj in 2019, he will upgrade our rooms in Makkah and Madinah.
2. Rooms will stay as normal but in addition, he will take us for Umrah in December 2018 at his cost.
My question is that from a sharee point of view, can I take the second option?
A: If these options are made as a condition for the compensation then it will amount to interest.
And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.
Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)