Q: Is it permissible to lease out a property to a company who do traditional retail, buying and selling, but more recently introduced a number of personal finance products such as pawn broking, cash for gold, cash advance and personal loans?
الجواب حامدا ومصليا ومسلما ومنه الصدق والصواب
A: In principle, if the property is of a generic nature that can be used by the lessee to conduct both permissible and non-permissible activities then, according to principles of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, the lessor is not responsible for how the lessee uses the property even if the lessor is aware that the property may be used for non-permissible activities and it will not be deemed to be assisting in sin as any sin incurred is incurred by an independent agent. However, according to the principles of Imām Abū Yūsuf and Imām Muḥammad, if the lessor is aware that the lessee intends to carry out impermissible activities in the property then this will be deemed as assisting in sin. If the lessor is either unaware of the intended use or is aware that the intended use will be mostly permissible then according to the principles of Imām Abū Yūsuf and Imām Muḥammad too this will not be deemed to be assisting in sin.
Additionally, non-Muslims are not subject to the laws of Sharīʿah. In addition, if these are businesses owned by non-Muslims then they are not subject to the laws of Sharīʿah in any case. However, if their activity falls foul of both Sharīʿah and the laws of their own faith then the principle mentioned above applies.
The business activities of Cash Convertors involves both permissible and non-permissible activities and whilst it is obviously superior to lease one’s property to businesses trading in only permissible activities this may not always be possible for Muslims living in the west. In such cases it is permissible to take the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah and lease one’s property to a Cash Convertor franchise.