Islamic marriage advice and family advice

I overpaid for a pizza, is it ribaa?

Whole pizzaAssalamu alaykum

I have a question about a personal experience. Once in 8th grade (now I am in 11th grade) I was on a school trip and some friends were there. At one point, I was out of money and I was hungry and my friend agreed to buy me a pizza. However, I forgot how much it costed (it has been a couple years, we are now in 11th grade and the time he paid for me was in 8th grade).

I think that there are two possible values that the pizza could have been. So, since I couldn’t remember which of the two values the pizza costed, I went with the larger value, and I converted the amount that the pizza costed from the currency of the country we were in on the trip, to the currency of the country we live in right now.

The value when converted to our current currency was an amount with a decimal (for example 25.25) and I rounded it to a larger whole number (26 for example from the 25.25). The friend who I was returning the money to did not seem to care, and he was telling me he didn’t want the money back, but I insisted and gave him the money (this was maybe a couple weeks ago or something like that). So, what I need to know is:

  1. Is it okay that I chose the larger value out of two possibilities to pay him since I could not remember how much the pizza costed?
  2. Is it okay that, after I converted the amount of money from the currency of that country to the currency of the country we live in now, I rounded it from a decimal to the nearest whole number that is bigger than the decimal? Or did I pay riba?
  3. What should I do right now? I already paid him the money, so should I tell him to give me the couple coins that I added to make it a whole number, even though it is a small amount? Some different websites have small differences in value when I convert the currency, the differences are only in decimal place, though. Can I just leave the money with him and be free of this worry, or is there something I need to do?
  4. He didn’t seem to care about the money when I wanted to pay him back, he even told me not to pay him back and that it is okay, but I insisted and paid him. Now, I gave him back the money, and I don’t want him to return any of it because I don’t care about it, but I am asking to see if I paid him riba, because if I paid him riba, then I do care. If this is not riba and none of this is haram, I don’t want any money back and I am willing to leave him with the money, but I am extremely worried because I don’t want to commit a sin in this.

- Kareem9

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3 Responses »

  1. Salaams. First, I must be honest and admit I seriously doubt someone age 16 or 17, in the 11th grade would have these concerns about a pizza pie. However, in response to your question, riba or interest was not involved in the transaction regarding your pizza in any way. You stated you were not sure of the cost and paid what you believed was the cost, although a higher price than what you thought was the cost of the pizza. You also stated your friend did not even want to be reimbursed for his purchase but that you insisted on paying for it.

    A few things to note: Costs for food vary from one store and location to another. Prepared food especially tend to cost more than the average price if located near tourist attractions, at a ball game or even a pizza restaurant. Everyone knows that in NYC, for example, a liter of water purchased at a restaurant or on the street can cost you 2 or 3 times the cost a bodega or grocery store might charge, and that the bodega will probably charge you a bit more than a chain grocery store. None of that is riba. Riba is an exorbitant fee associated with a loan transaction, most often where the borrower does not even know the final cost of the loan is, one which is most often far higher than the actual loan. Paying back a loan from a friend or relative with a little something extra is not riba when the payee is willing to gift the payor something more, recognizing possible expenses or costs involved in making the loan. That is voluntary. Riba is a required cost.

    In the future I would advise to return the considerations of a friend as soon as possible, even if it is for $5 or $10, and not to wait months or years to pay them back when they helped you out of am awkward situation. Borrowing money from a friend, no matter how little. and not paying a friend back or paying the loan back very late could ruin a friendship or possibly label you as a moocher or just a plain thoughtless person.

  2. Hello,

    Here are your answers:

    1.) Yes it is okay that you overpaid for the pizza, no problem here. Its better that you rounded it up rather than rounding it down since the conversion of the currency was not a whole number and there was no other way for you to pay them $0.25 in that currency.

    2.) That money that you over paid is not riba. Riba is when someone lend you money and demands more in return. In this case you purchased a product such as pizza and just paid more for it without them demanding it since the currency conversion caused you to do that. They did not demand riba for it and you did the right thing. Do not worry about this, you are free to pay more just like giving someone a tip, which is your choice to amount of tip you wanna provide, this is not riba.

    3.) If your friend demanded you to pay him back, then you must pay him back. However, if he is not asking you to pay him back, then no need to and there is no sin upon you for that. However, if you insist on paying him back, then pay him the amount that he paid, which is $26, not $25.25.

    4.) You did not pay your friend or the pizza guy riba. Riba is interest that is demanded. For example, lets say I lend you $1,000 and each month you must pay me $150 for 10 months, you will be paying $1500, which is Riba. However, in this case you bought a pizza which costed $25.25 and because you are unable to give them $25.25 even due to that currency conversion, you gave them $26. Also, lets say they lend you the pizza and you didn't pay for it up front but they told you to pay $10/month for 10 months, then that is interest because you are paying $100 for a $25.25 pizza. However, if you paid them $100 up front for the $25.25 pizza, then that is your choice and they did not demand a regular payment based upon Riba, you paid a one time price of your choice. So that is not considered Riba.

    I am not a scholar so if you want to confirm from someone who is knowledgeable about this subject, it will be better to do so. But from what I learned, this does not seem to be like interest to me. Of course everything we learn must come from Quran and Sunnah, and the understanding of it should be from the way companions understand the Quran and Sunnah, not the way me and you understand it, because everyone can come up with their own understanding if they choose so.

  3. In addition to what others have said, I would add that since you waited three years to pay him back, inflation most likely reduced the value of the currency, which means that you actually paid back less than you owe. Or maybe since you rounded up, it came out even.

    So I would just leave it alone and consider the transaction concluded. No need to bring it up again. And next time try to pay back your debts sooner.

    Wael Editor

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