Rulings on ja’aalah (price offered)

Question

Could you give us a brief description of the rulings on ja’aalah?

Praise be to Allah.

It is also called ja’l and ja’eelah. This refers to what
a person is given for something that he does, such as saying, “Whoever
does such and such, will get such and such money,” i.e., a certain amount
of money is given to the one who does a certain job for him, such as
building a wall.

The evidence that this is permitted is the aayah (interpretation
of the meaning):

“They said: ‘We have lost the (golden) bowl
of the king and for him who produces it is (the reward of) a camel load;
and I will be bound by it’”

[Yoosuf 12:72]

i.e., whoever could tell them who had stolen the king’s
bowl would be given a camel’s load [of goods]. This is the ja’l (reward
or price), so the aayah indicates that the ja’aalah is permissible.

The evidence for it in the Sunnah is the hadeeth of the
one who was stung, which was narrated in al-Saheehayn and elsewhere
from the hadeeth of Abu Sa’eed, (which said that) they stopped near
one of the tribes of the Arabs, and asked them for hospitality, but
they refused. Then the chief of that tribe was stung, and they tried
everything to help him. Then they came to them [the group of Sahaabah]
and asked them, “Can any one of you do something?” One of them said,
“By Allaah, I can do ruqyah [an incantation for healing], but by Allaah,
we asked you for hospitality and you did not grant it to us, so I will
not do ruqyah for you until you agree a price with us (ja’l).” So they
agreed on a flock of sheep, then he started to blow on him and recite
“Al-hamdu-Lillaahi Rabb il-‘Aalameen” [i.e., al-Faatihah]. Then
it was as if he was released from a chain. So they gave them what they
had agreed (the ja’l) and they came to the Prophet

(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and told him about that.
He said, “You did the right thing. Share them out and give me a share
too.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, Kitaab al-Ijaarah, 2276).

Whoever does a job on which payment has been offered
after coming to know of the offer, deserves the payment, because the
contract is fulfilled when the work is completed. If the work is undertaken
by a group then the reward is to be shared out equally amongst them,
because they shared in the work for which the compensation is deserved,
so they should share in the reward. But if a person does the job before
knowing the amount to be offered for it, he does not deserve anything
because this is work for which he was not given permission, so he does
not deserve any reward. If he came to know of the offered amount during
the work, he should take the payment for what he did after coming to
know that.

The ja’aalah is a contract which either
party is allowed to cancel. If it is cancelled by the worker, then he
does not deserve any payment, because he has cancelled his right himself.
If it is cancelled by the one who offered to pay this price, and that
is done before work is started, then the worker deserves a reward equivalent
to what is usually paid for such work, because his work was done in
return for a reward that was not given to him.

Ja’aalah differs from ordinary hiring in several ways:

1 – In order for it to be valid, it is not
essential to know what the work for which this price is agreed upon
entails. This is unlike hiring, in which case it is essential to know
what the work for which the wages are paid entails.

2 – In order for it to be valid, it is not essential
to know what the time of the work for which this price is agreed upon entails. This
is unlike hiring, in which case it is essential to know the time period
within which the work is to be done.

3 – In the case of ja’aalah, it is permissible to combine
the work and the time taken to complete it, such as saying, “Whoever
can sew this garment in a day will have such and such (payment).” Then
if he sews it in a day, he will have that payment and will deserve the
ja’l (announced payment), otherwise he will not. This is unlike hiring,
where it is not correct to combine the work and the time taken to complete
it.

4 – In the case of ja’aalah, the worker is not obliged
to complete the work, unlike hiring where the worker is committed to
the work once he agrees.

5 – The ja’aalah is a contract in which either party
may cancel it without the agreement of the other. This is unlike hiring
which is a binding contract, in which neither party may cancel without
the consent of the other.

The fuqaha (may Allaah have mercy on them) stated that
whoever does work for another without any agreement on price (ja’l)
or permission of the one for whom the job is done, does not deserve
anything, because he did some useful work without stipulating any payment,
so he does not deserve the payment, and because man cannot be bound
by something that he himself did not agree to. But there are two exceptions
from that:

(1)If the worker had prepared himself to do that work for
a fee, such as an agent or porter, etc. Then if he did some work with
permission, he deserves payment, because ‘urf (custom) indicates that.
But whoever had not prepared himself to do that work does not deserve
anything, even if he was given permission, except with conditions.

(2)Whoever saved another person’s possessions from being destroyed,
such as rescuing them from the sea or from fire, or who found them in
danger of being destroyed if he went away or left them. He should be
given the usual reward even if the owner did not give him permission
to do that, because there was the fear that the goods may be have been
destroyed or lost. Giving a reward also encourages such actions, namely
saving people’s property from destruction.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on
him) said: “Whoever saves another person’s wealth deserves the usual
reward, even if there is no agreement, according to the more correct
of the two opinions. This was the stated view of Ahmad and others.”

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy
on him) said: “Whoever does something to the property of another without
his permissionor does it to preserve or
protect the property for its owner from being lost, then the correct
view is that he should be given some payment in return for his action.
This was stated by Ahmad in a number of places.”

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