Is it obligatory to repay a debt in its original value or currency?
A friend asked me to loan him a sum of money. Since I work in an Arab country and most of my savings are in foreign currency and gold jewelry, I loaned him some of those. He asked for a grace period and I stipulated that he return the loan in its original form. When it was time for him to pay me back, the price of gold and foreign currency had risen. Did I do my friend injustice by compelling him to repay the loan in kind and, by doing so, did I take what is not rightfully mine?
It is the creditor's right to be repaid in the original form of the loan provided such an agreement exists. If the price of gold and foreign currency either increases or decreases, then the creditor will not be entitled to ask to take back the loan except at the current prices. This is because of the concept of al-ghunm bil ghurm (profit may only be earned by sharing in the risk of the activity or transaction). Allah the Almighty says,O you who believe, fulfill your obligations. [Al-Ma`ida: 1]
'Amr Ibn 'Awf narrated that the Prophet said, "Muslims are required to fulfill their conditions, except one which makes lawful what is unlawful or makes unlawful what is lawful" [recorded by At-Tirmidhi who declared it authentic due to its many paths of transmission. Ibn Haban and Al-Hakem declared it authentic through Abu Huraira's narration].
Compelling the debtor to repay the gold jewelry and foreign currency in its original form is not considered injustice. Rather, it is the creditor's right even if he did not stipulate this because the principle governing debts is that they must be repaid in kind.
Allah the Almighty knows best.