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Chapter sixteen » Sharecropping (Muzāraʿah)

Ruling 2246. Sharecropping is when an owner of land forms an agreement with a farmer to place the land at his disposal so that the farmer may farm the land and give part of the produce to the owner.

Ruling 2247. A number of conditions must be fulfilled for sharecropping to be valid:

1.
there must be a contract between the two parties. For example, the owner of the land says to the farmer, ‘I place the land at your disposal’ and the farmer responds by saying, ‘I accept’; or, without uttering a word, the owner places the land at the disposal of the farmer with the intention (qaṣd) of farming and the farmer accepts;
2. the owner of the land and the farmer must both be of the age of legal responsibility (bāligh), sane (ʿāqil), have the intention to make a sharecropping agreement, and enter into the agreement of their own volition (ikhtiyār). Furthermore, they must not be foolish with finances (safīh) – i.e. they must not spend their wealth in futile ways – and the owner must not have been proclaimed bankrupt (mufallas). However, if the farmer has been proclaimed bankrupt, there is no problem as long as the sharecropping agreement does not require him to have disposal over that part of his wealth over which he has been prohibited to have disposal;
3. the share of the land’s produce that the owner and the farmer receive must be in the form of a fraction, such as a half or a third or suchlike. Therefore, if they do not fix the share for either of them, or, for example, the owner says, ‘Farm this land and in return give me whatever you wish’, it is not valid (ṣaḥīḥ). Similarly, [it is not valid] if a specific amount of the produce, such as 10 kilograms, is fixed for the owner or for the farmer;
4. the period for which the land is to be at the disposal of the farmer must be specified, and the length of the period must be such that it is possible to harvest the crop in that time. If a specific day is fixed as the start of the period, and the end of the period is fixed as the time of harvest, it is sufficient;
5. the land must be cultivable. If it is not possible to farm the land at present but it can be worked on so that it becomes possible to farm it, the sharecropping is valid;
6. the crop that the farmer must cultivate must be specified. For example, it must be specified whether it is rice or wheat, and if it is rice then the type of rice must be specified. However, if the parties do not have a particular crop in mind, it is not necessary for them to specify it. Similarly, if the crop they have in mind is known, it is not necessary to expressly state it;
7. the owner must specify the land if he has a number of pieces of land which are different in terms of their agricultural qualities. However, if there is no difference between them, then specifying the land is not necessary. Therefore, [in the latter case,] if the owner says to the farmer, ‘Farm one of these pieces of land’ and he does not specify which piece, the sharecropping is valid, and after the conclusion of the contract the owner can specify which piece of land [he would like the farmer to farm];
8. the expenses that each of them must pay for – such as the cost of the seeds, fertilisers, farming equipment, and suchlike – must be specified. However, if the expenses that each of them must pay for are such that they are usually known, it is not necessary to expressly state them.

Ruling 2248. If an owner has an agreement with a farmer that an amount of the produce will belong to one of them and the rest of it will be divided between the two of them, the sharecropping is invalid (bāṭil), even if they know that after taking away that amount there will still be something left over. But, if they have an agreement to the effect that some of the seeds that have been planted or some of the tax that is taken by the government will be excepted from the produce and the rest of it will be divided between themselves, the sharecropping is valid.

Ruling 2249. If a period has been specified for the sharecropping and the period is such that usually produce is harvested by the end of it, but it so happens that the period comes to an end and no produce is harvested, then, in the event that the specified period included this scenario as well – that is, the intention of both parties was that when the period comes to an end, the sharecropping will also come to an end even if no produce is harvested – in this case, if the owner consents – either by taking rent (ijārah) or not taking rent – to the crops remaining on his land, and the farmer also consents to it, there is no problem. However, if the owner does not consent to it, he can make the farmer remove the crop. And if by removing the crop the farmer suffers a loss, it is not necessary for the owner to give him something in return. However, even if the farmer consents to giving the owner something, he cannot compel the owner to keep the crop on the land.

Ruling 2250. If farming the land is not possible due to certain circumstances, such as the land being cut off from a water supply, the sharecropping is nullified. And if the farmer does not farm the land without a legitimate excuse (ʿudhr), then, if the land was at his disposal and the owner had no disposal over it, the farmer must pay the owner a rental fee for that period at the standard rate.

Ruling 2251. An owner and a farmer cannot annul the sharecropping contract without the consent of the other. However, if they stipulate a condition in the sharecropping agreement that both or one of them reserves the right to annul the agreement, they can annul the agreement in accordance with their agreement. Similarly, if one of them acts contrary to what was stipulated, the other can annul the agreement.

Ruling 2252. If the owner or the farmer dies after the sharecropping contract has been concluded, the sharecropping is not nullified and their heirs take their place. However, if the farmer dies and a restriction had been made in the sharecropping agreement that the farmer himself would farm the land, then the sharecropping agreement is nullified unless the work that was the responsibility of the farmer has been completed, in which case the sharecropping agreement is not nullified and his share must be given to his heirs. Furthermore, his heirs inherit other rights that belonged to him, and they can compel the owner to keep the crops on the land until the end of the sharecropping period.

Ruling 2253. If after farming the land the parties realise that the sharecropping agreement was invalid (bāṭil), in the event that the seeds belonged to the owner, the produce will also belong to him. The owner must pay the farmer his wages and all the expenses he incurred, and he must also pay him a rental fee for the use of the cow or other animal that belonged to him and was used to work on the land. If the seeds belonged to the farmer, then the crops will also belong to him. The farmer in turn must pay the owner a rental fee for his land, and he must also pay for all the expenses he incurred. Moreover, he must pay him a rental fee for the use of the cow or other animal that belonged to him and was used to work on the land. In both cases, if the sum of the claim, based on standard rates, is greater than the amount agreed to in the contract and the other party is aware of this, it is not obligatory (wājib) to give the extra amount.

Ruling 2254. If the seeds belong to the farmer and after farming the land the parties realise that the sharecropping agreement was invalid, in the event that the owner and the farmer both consent to letting the crops remain on the land, whether that be for a rental fee or not, there is no problem. However, if the owner does not consent to this, then based on obligatory precaution (al-iḥtiyāṭ al-wājib) he must not compel the farmer to remove the crops. Similarly, the owner cannot compel the farmer to keep the crops on his land, whether that be by claiming rent from him for the land or not.

Ruling 2255. If after harvesting the crops and the completion of the sharecropping period the roots of the crop remain in the ground and they produce crops again in the following year, then, in the event that the owner and the farmer had not stipulated a condition that they would own the roots jointly, the following year’s crops will belong to the owner of the seeds.
Chapter seventeen » Tree Tending Contract (Musāqāh) and Tree Planting Contract (Mughārasah) → ← Chapter fifteen » Reward (Juʿālah)
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