In the previous article, we introduced the concept of wakalah and its different types. Today we are going to learn the basic rules and conditions for wakalah / agency contract. There are four pillars or components of a wakalah contract namely the principal (muwakkil), the agent (wakil) the offer & acceptance and the subject matter (muwakkal bihi). In the following, we are going discuss the basic rules and conditions for each of these components.
Contracting parties: the principal and the agent
1. There are two parties in a wakalah contract namely the principal and the agent. The basic condition for both parties is to have a legal capacity to enter into a contract. Therefore, an insane or a minor cannot enter into a contract of wakalah due to the absence of legal capacity.
2. The principal should delegate the responsibility and make an agent based on his freewill. If he does that due to any coercion from others, then the contract would be invalid. Likewise, the agent should not be forced to accept the agency agreement and conduct the delegated tasks.
3. It’s necessary for both parties in agency agreement to know each other. However, it’s not necessary for them to know by name. For instance, if the principal identifies the agent by his name or by his physical appearance or by his characteristics, that would be enough for the validity of an agency agreement.
Offer & Acceptance (Ijab & Qabul)
The offer and acceptance are essential elements of a contract. The contract of wakalah also requires offer and acceptance like any other contract. For example, If the principal says: “I authorize you to sell my car on my behalf” and the agent says: “I accept that”, then the contract of wakalah becomes completed.
The jurists and scholars mentions that the acceptance of a wakalah contract can be established in different ways such as verbal, action, writhing or sign etc.
Subject matter (muwakkal bihi)
The subject matter in a wakalah contract refers to a delegated task or responsibility which is performed by an agent on behalf of a principal. In other words, it’s an object of a wakalah contract. The following conditions need to be observed in the subject matter of wakalah.
1. The delegated task or act must be a lawful and permissible in Shariah. It should not involve in any non Shariah compliance practice such as trading prohibited commodities.
2. The subject matter should be known and clear to the agent. So, its performance is possible for him. For instance, if the wakalah contract is for purchasing something, then the quality, quantity, kind and other necessary attributes should be identified and known.
3. The subject matter of a wakalah must be something which is eligible for delegation and authorization such as financial dealings, sale and purchase, borrowing and lending and making gifts etc. The contract of wakalah is not permissible for pure acts of worship (ibadat) such as prayer, fasting and oath taking etc.
The wakalah or agency contract can be paid or not paid based on the consent of the parties. If it’s a paid agency contract, then it falls under the rulings of ijarah contract. And if it’s non-paid agency contract, then it’s regarded as a charitable contract.