Constitution of the Caliphate State / Economic System
- Category: Economic System §123-169
Article 136:Everyone that owns land is compelled to use it, and those that require financial help are given money from the Bayt Al-Mal to enable them to utilise their land. If anyone neglects utilising the land for three years continuously, it is taken from them and given to someone else.
The evidence is what Abu Yusuf reported in Al-Kharaj from Salim b. ‘Abd Allah that Umar b. Al-Khattab (ra) said from the pulpit: “whoever revives a dead land, it belongs to him, and the one who fenced it off has no right in it after three years (if not cultivated).” Umar (ra) said this in the sight and full hearing of the companions, and none of them rebuked him and so it is a consensus. This is explicit evidence that if someone revives a dead land, or places stones or anything which shows his possession of it upon it, then he takes possession of it. However, if he does not utilise the land for a period of three consecutive years then it is taken from him. The one who revived it and the one who fenced it off are the same from the angle of ownership, and from the angle of it being taken away from them. It cannot be said that the issue of ownership is restricted to the one who revives: “whoever revives”, and that the issue of dispossessing it is restricted to the one who fenced it of: “and the one who fenced it off has no…”, with the understanding that ownership is for the reviver, and taking the land away if it was neglected is restricted to the one who fenced if off and excludes the reviver. This is because the wording is from the metaphorical style of deletion (Hadthf), and so the one who fenced also falls under ownership, and the reviver under the ruling of dispossession: as if Umar (ra) said: “whoever revived a dead land then it is for him, and he has no right to it after three years, and whoever fenced a dead land then it is for him and he has no right to it after three years”.
Though Umar’s (ra) words mentioned dead land that is taken into an individual’s possession through reviving it or fencing it off, in other words, by placing his hand upon it, and that if he neglects it for three years then it is taken from his possession, there are other texts which are reported about land which is not revived and fenced, and not dead, rather as part of a cultivated land that was granted to people. It is reported from Yahya b. Adam through the chain of ‘Amru b. Shu’ayb who said:
«أَقْطَعَ رَسُولُ اللهِ نَاساً مِنْ مُزْيَنَةِ أَوْ جُهَيْنَةِ أَرْضاً فَعَطَّلُوهَا، فَجَاءَ قَوْمٌ فَأَحْيَوْهَا، فَقَالَ عُمَرُ: لَوْ كَانَتْ قَطِيعَةً مِنِّي أَوْ مِنْ أَبِي بَكْرٍ لَرَدَدْتُهَا، وَلَكِنْ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللهِ »
“The Prophet assigned land to some people from Muzaynah or Juhaynah as a fief, and they neglected it. Other people came and cultivated it. Umar said: If the land was granted by me or by Abu Bakr, I would have taken it back from them. But it was granted by the Messenger of Allah ”.
What is meant is that more than three years had passed, or in other words, if it had been granted from the time of Abu Bakr (ra), three years would not have passed yet, and similarly if it had been granted in the time of Umar (ra), and so Umar (ra) would have returned it to the one it had been granted to. However, it was the Prophet who granted it, and so more than three years had passed and so it was not possible to return it, rather Umar (ra) confirmed its ownership to the ones who had revived it. And it is apparent from the narration that it occurred more than a year after Umar (ra) took the leadership, and it was land granted from the time of the Messenger of Allah , in other words, it was granted more than three years earlier, and for that reason Umar (ra) did not return it; it is also clear that the event was regarding land that had been granted and was not revived or fenced land.
Abu ‘Ubayd reported in the book of Al-Amwal from Bilal Ibn Al-Harith Al-Muzni, that:
«أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ أَقْطَعَهُ العَقِيقَ أَجْمَعَ، قَالَ: فَلَمَّا كَانَ زَمَانُ عُمَرَ قَالَ لِبِلاَلٍ: إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ لَمْ يُقْطِعْكَ لِتَحْجُرَهُ عَلَى النَّاسِ، إِنَّمَا أَقْطَعَكَ لِتَعْمَلَ، فَخُذْ مِنْهَا مَا قَدِرْتَ عَلَى عِمَارَتِهِ وَرُدَّ البَاقِي»
“The Messenger of Allah had assigned him all of Al-Aqiq as a fief. He said that during the time of Umar, he (Umar) said to Bilal, ‘The Messenger of Allah did not grant you the place to fence it away from the people but rather to use it. So take of it as much as you can afford and return the rest”. It is clear from this that neglect of the land due to the lack of capability to utilise it is a cause for taking the land away, as understood and acted upon by Umar (ra), and the limit of neglect before it is mandatory to take the land is three years as mentioned in the previous words of Umar (ra).
It cannot be said that this is only regarding land that has been granted, since the issue was not a question nor an event that occurred which the text was specific to, rather it is general, and is general for all possessed land. Therefore, the cause for taking away the possession of land if it was neglected is not because it was land that was originally granted but rather because it was neglected. This is confirmed by the words of Umar (ra): “whoever neglected a land for three years and did not build upon it, and then someone else came and built upon it then it is theirs” (reported by Yayha b. Adam in Al-Kharaj and Ibn Zanjawi in Al-Amwal from ‘Amr b. Shu’ayb), and his word: “a land” is an unrestricted term which encompasses all types of possessed land, irrespective of whether it was dead and then taken into ownership through revival and fencing, or if it was built upon and taken into ownership by being granted or inheritance or buying or a gift…the rule is applied to it – it is taken if it is not used for three years.
This indicates that the land which was possessed by an individual, irrespective of whether that was by revival, fencing, granting, or purchasing is taken away from the owner if he left it unutilised for three consecutive years, as was indicated by the action of Umar (ra) in the incident withAmrf Bin Shu’ayb and by his words: “whoever neglected a land”, and by the incident of Bilal, and it is not known that any of the companions rebuked him over that eventhough it is from the things that are rebukable, because it is forcefully taking a cultivated land from its owner without giving anything in exchange, and the one taking it is the Khalifah; it is accordingly Ijma’ of the companions. This is because the Ijma’ Sukuti (silent Ijma’/Ijma’ of consent) is when one of the companions does an action that would normally be rebuked in front of a group of them, and none of them rebuke it, and so it is a Shari’ah evidence. Based upon this the cultivated land that is owned by an individual, is taken from them by compulsion without exchange if they left it uncultivated for a period of three consecutive years.
From this, it is clear that the rule encompasses all land, regardless of whether it was possessed through revival, grant, inheritance, purchase or anything else – every land which is neglected for three years is compulsorily taken back by the State from its owner without any compensation.
The issue of being three consecutive years is understood from the text, which applied to taking the land and to its neglect for three years. He said: “Whoever neglected a land for three years”, and so the issue of neglect applies after three years, and it is understood from this that the three years are consecutive. This is confirmed without any lack of clarity by his words: “and the one who fenced it off has no right to it after three years”, and so the negation applies: “after three years”, and it is not said: “after three” if they were not consecutive, and would only be used if they were consecutive following one after the other.
As for giving the farmers help from Bayt Al-Mal (treasury) to enable them to cultivate their land, its evidence is what Umar (ra) did in Iraq. When he conquered Iraq he left the land in the hands of its inhabitants, and did not divide it amongst the fighters even though it was part of the booty. He gave the farmers money from the Bayt Al-Mal (treasury) in order to strengthen them to cultivate their land even though they had not yet embraced Islam, even though farmers in their characteristic as farmers are not from those who deserve anything from Bayt Al-Mal (treasury) since as long as they own land they cannot be counted as being poor. Anything similar to these two issues would normally be rebuked due to their contradiction with the rules regarding war booty and the rules regarding Bayt Al-Mal (treasury). As for the first issue which is leaving the land which was taken as booty with those who cultivated it, and not dividing it amongst the fighters, there were companions who rebuked Umar (ra), and a discussion took place between them. As for the second issue, which was giving the farmers in Iraq money from the Bayt Al-Mal (treasury) in order for them to cultivate their land, none of the companions rebuked Umar (ra), and so it is an Ijma’ (consensus) upon the permission of giving farmers what is required from Bayt Al-Mal (treasury) to enable them to cultivate their land.
These are all the evidences for this article.