كتاب المكاتب
The Mukatab

Malik said, The best of what I have heard about a mukatab whose master frees him at death, is that the mukatab is valued according to what he would fetch if he were sold. If that value is less than what remains against him of his kitaba, his freedom is taken from the third that the deceased can bequeath. One does not look at the number of dirhams which remain against him in his kitaba. That is because had he been killed, his killer would not be in debt for other than his value on the day he killed him. Had he been injured, the one who injured him would not be liable for other than the blood-money of the injury on the day of his injury. One does not look at how much he has paid of dinars and dirhams of the contract he has written because he is a slave as long as any of his kitaba remains. If what remains in his kitaba is less than his value, only whatever of his kitaba remains owing from him is taken into account in the third of the property of the deceased. That is because the deceased left him what remains of his kitaba and so it becomes a bequest which the deceased made."

Malik said, "The illustration of that is that if the price of the mukatab is one thousand dirhams, and only one hundred dirhams remain of his kitaba, his master leaves him the one hundred dirhams which complete it for him. It is taken into account in the third of his master and by it he becomes free."

Malik said that if a man wrote his slave a kitaba at his death, the value of the slave was estimated. If there was enough to cover the price of the slave in one third of his property, that was permitted for him.

Malik said, "The illustration of that is that the price of the slave is one thousand dinars. His master writes him a kitaba for two hundred dinars at his death. The third of the property of his master is one thousand dinars, so that is permitted for him. It is only a bequest which he makes from one third of his property. If the master has left bequests to people, and there is no surplus in the third after the value of the mukatab, one begins with the mukatab because the kitaba is setting free, and setting free has priority over bequests. When those bequests are paid from the kitaba of the mukatab, they follow it. The heirs of the testator have a choice. If they want to give the people with bequests all their bequests and the kitaba of the mukatab is theirs, they have that. If they refuse and hand over the mukatab and what he owes to the people with bequests they can do that, because the third commences with the mukatab and because all the bequests which he makes are as one."

If the heirs then say, "What our fellow bequeathed was more than one third of his property and he has taken what was not his," Malik said, "His heirs choose. It is said to them, 'Your companion has made the bequests you know about and if you would like to give them to those who are to receive them according to the deceased's bequests, then do so. If not, hand over to the people with bequests one third of the total property of the deceased.' "

Malik continued, "If the heirs surrender the mukatab to the people with bequests, the people with bequests have what he owes of his kitaba. If the mukatab pays what he owes of his kitaba, they take that in their bequests according to their shares. If the mukatab cannot pay, he is a slave of the people with bequests and does not return to the heirs because they gave him up when they made their choice, and because when he was surrendered to the people with bequests, they were liable. If he died, they would not have anything against the heirs. If the mukatab dies before he pays his kitaba and he leaves property which is more than what he owes, his property goes to the people with bequests. If the mukatab pays what he owes, he is free and his wala' returns to the paternal relations of the one who wrote the kitaba for him."

Malik spoke about a mukatab who owed his master ten thousand dirhams in his kitaba, and when he died he remitted one thousand dirhams from it. He said, "The mukatab is valued and his value is taken into consideration. If his value is one thousand dirhams and the reduction is a tenth of the kitaba, that portion of the slave's price is one hundred dirhams. It is a tenth of the price. A tenth of the kitaba is therefore reduced for him. That is converted to a tenth of the price in cash. That is as if he had had all of what he owed reduced for him. Had he done that, only the value of the slave - one thousand dirhams - would have been taken into account in the third of the property of the deceased. If that which he had remitted is half of the kitaba, half the price is taken into account in the third of the property of the deceased. If it is more or less than that, it is according to this reckoning."

Malik said, "When a man reduces the kitaba of his mukatab by one thousand dirhams at his death from a kitaba of ten thousand dirhams, and he does not stipulate whether it is from the beginning or the end of his kitaba, each instalment is reduced for him by one tenth."

Malik said, "If a man remits one thousand dirhams from his mukatab at his death from the beginning or end of his kitaba, and the original basis of the kitaba is three thousand dirhams, the mukatab's cash value is estimated. Then that value is divided. That thousand which is from the beginning of the kitaba is converted into its portion of the price according to its proximity to the term and its precedence and then the thousand which follows the first thousand is according to its precedence also until it comes to its end, and every thousand is paid according to its place in advancing and deferring the term because what is deferred of that is less in respect of its price. Then it is placed in the third of the deceased according to whatever of the price befalls that thousand according to the difference in preference of that, whether it is more or less, then it is according to this reckoning."

Malik spoke about a man who willed a man a fourth of a mukatab or freed a fourth, and then the man died and the mukatab died and left a lot of property, more than he owed. He said, "The heirs of the first master and the one who was willed a fourth of the mukatab are given what they are still owed by the mukatab. Then they divide what is left over, and the one willed a fourth has a third of what is left after the kitaba is paid. The heirs of his master gets two-thirds. That is because the mukatab is a slave as long as any of his kitaba remains to be paid. He is inherited from by the possession of his person."

Malik said about a mukatab whose master freed him at death, "If the third of the deceased will not cover him, he is freed from it according to what the third will cover and his kitaba is decreased according to that. If the mukatab owed five thousand dirhams and his value is two thousand dirhams cash, and the third of the deceased is one thousand dirhams, half of him is freed and half of the kitaba has been reduced for him." Malik said about a man who said in his will, "My slave so-and-so is free and write a kitaba for so-and- so", that the setting free had priority over the kitaba.

USC-MSA web (English) reference : Book 39, Hadith 15