Radd Al-Madhalim: What is it? Is it Wajib? How Do We Pay it?

Bismillah, Al-Rahman, Al-Rahim. As-salamu alaykum, wa Rahmat Ullahi Ta'ala, wa barakatu. Some of you may have come across the term Radd ul-Madhalim, what is it? And what are the Islamic rules associated with it? Well, in terms of rights, we as believers, must observe the rights of our Creator Allah, Haqq Allah, as well as the rights of the people, Haqq un-Naas. Radd ul-Madhalim is essentially related to the latter. The rights of the people.

Now Radd ul-Madhalim is obligatory in Islam, but what exactly is it? It is the discharging of the duty on us related to the monetary rights of others. When we don't know who they are or it is difficult to get to them. For example, we may have taken some loan from someone many years ago and have not repaid it, and now we don't know where the person is or how to find them. Another example is traffic accidents, or breaking someone's belongings, or taking something from someone without their permission.

If we can locate these people, we should seek their forgiveness and compensate them. If not, then we should pay what is known as Radd ul-Madhalim. Now, essentially Radd ul-Madhalim must be paid to a poor practicing believer. But importantly, after getting permission from the main jurists, Hakim Ash-Shara'i, i.e. the Marj'a. This can either be obtained directly from him or his office, or Radd ul-Madhalim can be given to an organization authorized by the Maraja to receive it. For example, I know that Al-A'in Foundation is authorized from Ayatullah Sistani to receive this, as are some other institutions. So check whom your Marj'a has given permission.

Let's give an example. Ten years ago you borrowed a book from someone. Now you've realized it's not yours and you need to give it back. The person is not contactable and you don't know where they are. At this stage it is Wajib to give Radd ul-Madhalim. The amount depends on the value of the book in this instance. The payment is then made either to the Marj'a or to an authorized entity.

If we can locate the person, then we should seek to resolve this issue with them of course. The goal is to seek their satisfaction. So an agreed amount between you both should be paid to them. But in some instances, like if someone has stolen from someone else, they don't need to tell them the reason for giving them the money. Just give them the amount without saying it's a gift or it was stolen, for example, just say this is yours.

Radd ul-Madhalim is important, and sometimes we should perhaps pay an amount in case we have wronged someone and have forgotten or we're unaware of the injustice. In this case, the amount can be decided by yourself.

Radd ul-Madhalim should be given as soon as possible, and not delayed unnecessarily. It's also key for forgiveness of sins and acceptance of Tawba. Indeed, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, may forgive the sins, but it is the rights of others that we have usurped. We need to pay attention to that as well. It's important to remember, Ayah 49 of Chapter 18 of the Holy Quran, which highlights to us how accountability will be precise and pristine on the Day of Accountability.

"Wudi'a al-kitaab, fatara al-mujrimeena mushfiqeena mimma feehi, wa yaquluna ya walaitana mali haadha al-kitaab la yughaadiru sagheeratan wa la kabeeratan illa ahsaha, wa wajadoo maa 'amiloo hadiraa, wa laa yadhlimu Rabbuka ahada (18:49)[ And the Book shall be placed, then you will see the guilty fearing from what is in it, and they will say: Ah! woe to us! what a book is this! it does not omit a small one nor a great one, but numbers them (all); and what they had done they shall find present (there); and your Lord does not deal unjustly with anyone].

Also, let us not forget to ask forgiveness from others in case of any injustice or wrongdoing we may have inflicted upon them, such as backbiting or slander or ridicule or mocking as this constitutes their rights as well, and we will be held accountable for it.

This is especially the case when it comes to discussing, for example, scholars, activists, speakers, and those believers in the public domain. We may say things about them which are unacceptable Islamically, and hence we should seek their forgiveness.