Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat
We have a few commercial shops, and we manage our lives and livelihood through their rent. Due to the lockdown, the shops are closed. Should we take rent in this lockdown or take the reduced rent?
The choice is yours if your tenants can pay it. However, given the way things are, it might be better to discuss the matter with your tenants and come to an agreement that works best for all parties.
Coming to An Agreement
You are entitled to the rent, but if they cannot pay, then the agreement you had between yourselves does not stand due to the unique circumstances. [Quduri, Matan al Quduri] Speak to them and come to an agreement that works for everyone. If you can manage, it’s best to make things easier for them in these uncertain times.
Giving Respite to Others is Better For You
Allah encourages those to whom others owe money to give them respite until times are easy for them: “If he has great difficulty, then wait until a time of financial ease. For you to waive the money as a form of charity is better for you if only you knew.” [Quran, 2:280]
Essentially, these situations are fast-track opportunities to get closer to Allah. The verse describes those who have financial difficulties as people of ‘usr. The word ‘usr’ has a root meaning of something being compressed, squashed, and greatly constricted.
Imagine the state of someone who has these financial burdens and is under stress at this time. This verse clearly describes his emotional state.
Conversely, the word for ease, yusr/maysara, implies something wide, vast, and open. Waiting to collect money owed to you until the one in debt can easily pay is highly encouraged by Allah Most High.
Just like Allah overlooks our deficiencies and faults because He knows our weaknesses, for us to be understanding of others who we know are in great difficulty is a huge deal in the sight of Allah. He ends the verse by telling those to whom money is owed that waiving the debt-partially, if not fully-will have a much better result for them- in this life and the next than even deferring its collection will. How?
Allah’s Help Comes Through Helping Others
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever gives even some relief to a believer from one of this life’s problems, Allah will give him relief from one of the terrible calamities of the Day of Resurrection.” [Muslim]
It’s important to note that the original wording has the nuance of the one in difficulty being unable to breathe. Your help allows the person to take some breathe-even if you don’t entirely remove the problem. This leads to being protected from some of the terrors of the Last Day. This day alone will last many times the span of our lives, so the relief gained there is far superior to any benefit money can bring in this life.
The hadith continues, “Whoever facilitates matters for someone in financial difficulty, Allah will facilitate matters him in this life and the Afterlife.” This is a guaranteed way to bring some ease and security into your life in these times.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, spending, giving charity, and helping others in times of difficulty – primarily when it affects everyone – is a sure way to ease, safety, and success. This hadith further supports the fact that “Allah is actively aiding a servant for as long as that servant is helping his brother.” [Muslim] Do you think things won’t work out to your ultimate benefit with this being the case?
There are many such narrations to this effect. To mention just a few:
“Whoever gives respite to someone who owes him money or completely waives it off will undoubtedly be in the shade of the Thrown on the Day of Resurrection. “[Muslim] This will be when the sun is a mile above everyone’s head, and the heat will be unbearable. That shade will be priceless on a day when they won’t be any money. Purchase it now.
In another variant, “Whoever gives respite to someone who owes him money, or waives it fully, Allah will protect him from the intense heat of the Hellfire.” [Ahmad]
“Whoever wants his supplications to be answered and for his difficulties to be removed then let him remove the problems of those in [financial] difficulty” [Ahmad]
We can see from these narrations that such situations only exist to honor us with the ability to get closer to Allah and to protect us from the difficulties of this life and the next. Bear that in mind when dealing with your tenants.
May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.
[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani