Usurpation is defined as the act of acquiring control over the property or right of another individual by coercion. It is one of the major sins, and the one who perpetrates it will be subject to a painful punishment on the Day of Judgment.
It has been narrated from the Holy Prophet (sawas), that “whoever usurps (even) one yard of land from another, on the Day of Judgment seven layers of that land will be shackled around his neck.”
2609. If a person does not allow people to make use of a mosque, a school, a bridge, or any construction that has been dedicated for public use, he will have usurped their right. The same applies if a person reserves an area of the mosque for himself, and does not allow others to make use of it.
2610. The item that a person places in the possession of his creditor as mortgage must remain in the latter’s possession, so that he may be able to claim the debt from it in the event that the person fails to pay it. Hence, if he takes the item back before paying off the debt, he will have usurped the creditor’s right.
2611. If the mortgaged item is usurped by a third party, both the owner of the property and the creditor may demand it from the usurper. Should they be successful in reclaiming the item, it will retain the status of a mortgaged item. However, if the thing perishes and they acquire a replacement for it, the replacement—like the original item—will also retain the status of a mortgaged item.
2612. If a person usurps an item, he must return it to its owner. If the item perishes, he must give its replacement to the owner.
2613. If a benefit (or profit) is acquired from the usurped item, it will belong to the owner. For example, if a usurped sheep gives birth to a lamb, it will belong to the owner. Similarly, if a person usurps a house, he will have to pay its rent even if he does not reside in it.
2614. If a person usurps a property from a minor or an insane individual that belongs to them, he will have to return the property to their guardian. In the event that the property perishes, he will have to give its replacement.
2615. If two people usurp a property together, then if each of them has authority over half the property, they will each be held responsible for half of it. However, if each of them has authority over the entire property, they will both be held responsible for the entire property.
2616. If a person mixes the usurped item with something else, such as mixing usurped wheat with barley, then if separating the two items is possible, he will have to separate them even if it requires some effort, and return the usurped item to its owner.
2617. If a person usurps an item which has been crafted, such as gold which has been crafted into earrings, and he damages it, he must return the material to the owner along with the craft and its attributes. If the value of the material after the damage is different from the value of the material prior to the damage, he will also have to pay for the difference in value.
However, if he states that he will repair it to its previous state, the owner does not have to accept his offer. Similarly, the owner cannot force him to repair it to its previous state.
2618. If a person changes the usurped item in a manner that it causes its value to appreciate, such as crafting gold into earrings then, if the owner of the item demands the usurped item to be in its original form, the usurper has to return it in its original form. He may not claim any wages for his efforts either.
Similarly, a person may not revert an item to its original form without the permission of its owner. If however he reverts it to its original form without the permission of the owner, then it is problematic to hold him accountable for the value of its attributes. The more precautionary measure in this case is a compromise.
2619. If a person changes the usurped item in a manner that its value appreciates, but the owner demands that the item be returned to its original state, it is obligatory upon the person to return it to its original state. In the event that its value depreciates from the original item owing to the changes, he will also have to pay the difference to the owner.
2620. If someone cultivates land that is usurped, or plants a tree on that land, the cultivation, the tree and the fruits belong to him. However, if the owner of the land does not allow the cultivation or the trees to remain on his land, the usurper must remove the cultivation and the trees immediately, even if he incurs loss in doing so. He must also pay the rent to the owner for the period wherein the cultivation or the trees were on that land. Indeed, he must pay the rent for the period prior to it, wherein he had usurped the land. He must also repair any damages that may have occurred on the land, such as filling the holes caused by the removal of his trees. If, owing to the damages, the value of the land depreciates from its original value, he must also pay for the difference in value. He also cannot force the owner of the land to sell the land to him, or rent it out to him. Similarly, the owner of the land cannot force the person to sell the trees or the cultivation to him.
2621. If the owner of the land allows the trees and the cultivation to remain on his land, then the usurper does not have to remove the trees and cultivation from the land. He must however pay the rent for the period starting from when he usurped the land to the time when the owner consented to it.
2622. If the usurped item gets destroyed, and the item is non-fungible in the sense that the features of individual items of the same type, such as animals, commonly differ from each other in value, and demand in the view of rational people then the usurper must pay its value. In the event that the market value of an item varied from the time it was usurped to the time of payment, the obligatory precaution is that the usurper should pay the highest value it acquired from the time it was usurped to the time it perished. The recommended precaution is that he should pay the highest value from the time it was usurped to the time of paying its value.
2623. If the usurped item gets destroyed, and the item is fungible, in the sense that the features of the individual items of the same type do not commonly differ from each other in value or demand in the eyes of rational people, then the usurper must replace it with an item of the same type and class.
For example, if a person usurps an amount of winter wheat, he cannot replace it with spring wheat. Similarly, if the winter wheat was of a high grade, he cannot replace it with winter wheat of a lower grade.
2624. If a person usurps a thing like a sheep, and it perishes, then in the event that the market value of the sheep has not changed, but it had gained weight while it was in his possession, he should pay the value of a fat sheep.
2625. If the usurped item is usurped by another party and thereafter it perishes, the owner may demand its replacement from either of the two usurpers. He may also demand a part of the replacement from each of them. In the event that he demands the replacement from the first usurper, the first usurper may demand it from the second usurper. However, if the owner demands the replacement from the second usurper, the second usurper may not demand it from the first.
2626. If one of the conditions of a valid transaction is lacking from a transaction, such as a case wherein an item whose quantity must be known is sold without knowledge of its quantity, then the transaction is invalid. However, if the buyer and seller grant permission to each other to excercise discretion over each other’s property, there will be no problem in it. If they do not permit so, then they will have to return the item that they have acquired from each other. In the event that the property of each person perishes in the possession of the other, they will each have to supply a replacement, regardless of whether they knew the transaction to be invalid or not. Therefore, if the property is fungible, they will have to replace it with a similar kind, and if it is non-fungible, they will have to pay the value it had on the day it perished. In this case, the more precautionary measure is to pay the highest value acquired by the property from the time the property was acquired to the time it perished. An even more precautionary measure is to pay the highest value acquired by the property from the time it was acquired to the time of payment.
2627. If a person takes a property from a seller to observe it or to hold it in his possession, with the intention that he would buy it if he likes it, and the property perishes in his possession, then to claim that the potential buyer is reponsible for its replacement is problematic, and the more precautionary measure is a compromise.