There are three Arabic words often used to suggest the notion of a "contract", each conveying an understanding of undertaking and obligation
Mithaq suggests a firm determination from the parties to fulfil their contractual duties and rights, considered sacred by each unlike the more mundane nature of those found in ordinary contracts. Examples of mithaq include the covenant between God and man, treaties between Muslims and other nations, and the marriage contract. The term mithaq appears in a number of Qur'anic verses:
These who are true to their bond with God and who never break their covenant. For how can you take it back (dower), when you have lain with each other, and entered a firm contract? Those who fulfill the covenant of Allah and do not break the contract (Qur'an 13:20)
Ahd refers to a unilateral undertaking or promise but also has been used in the Qur'an to suggest a bilateral obligation.
And fulfill every engagement, for every engagement will be enquired into (on the day of reckoning) (Qur'an 17:34)
And fulfill your covenant with me as I fulfil my covenant with you. (Qur'an 2:40)
Aqd is akin to the notion of "contract" occurring frequently in Islamic jurisprudential literature. It arises linguistically from the notion of "to join" or "to tie" something firmly, and technically refers to the joining of an obligation with mutual agreement. The Qur'an has used the word in this sense in various verses:
And resolve not on the marriage tie until the prescribed period (Iddat) reaches its end. (Qur'an 2:235)
Allah will not call you to account for what is void in your oaths, but will call you to account for the oath, which you take in earnest. (Qur'an 5:88)
O you who believe! Fulfil your contracts. (Qur'an 5:1)
In Islamic legal literature aqd is used in a general sense and a specific sense. In the general sense, it applies to acts undertaken with firm determination regardless of whether it emerges from a unilateral intention or not.
In the specific sense it has been defined in different ways. However, the common feature of all definitions is that it is a combination of an offer and acceptance which gives rise to certain legal consequences.
Meaning of Aqd (Contract) and other similar terms declaration is divorce (talaq), which issues forth from the husband only but has legal consequences. An endowment (waqf) also comes into being through a unilateral declaration. Thus, though a unilateral declaration may have legal consequences in many cases, it cannot be called a contract (aqd) on the basis of this definition.
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