Historically, handling debts was a major issue described in the Islamic legal realm and handling insolvent debtors is a category thereof. Recently, in the 21st century in Egypt, the numbers of incarcerated insolvent debtors has increased dramatically constituting one third of the Egyptian prison population. This paper addresses the legal developments relating to adjudication and imprisonment of debtors since the time of the prophet throughout the development of the Islamic legal jurists’ literature that supported practical solutions to debtors’ insolvencies. Investigation of middle age Egyptian and Ottoman court cases are incorporated to prove the success of the Islamic legal system at the time. The New Commercial Law of 1999 check penalties coupled with the penalties associated with security receipts have led to the exacerbation of the problem of the poor insolvent debtors in Egypt. The immediate incarceration of defaulting debtors for reasons beyond their control is abusive in nature and works against Islamic law and other western laws. Therefore, an imminent legislative law change against imprisonment is the first step to resolve the increasing insolvency prisoners’ situation.


Arab & Islamic Civilizations Department

Degree Name

MA in Arabic Studies

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2018

First Advisor

Serag, Mohamed

Committee Member 1

El-Shawarby, Loay Y.

Committee Member 2

Al-Gheriani, Moatasem


47 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item


First I would like to thank Dr. Mohamed Serag, my professor and my thesis supervisor. His constant dwellings on notions and connections that relate the past to the present and the academia to actual life, beside his lectures and discussions in and outside the classroom are an eye opener for anyone who is interested in Islam as a religion and as a subject for academic research. To him I am forever grateful. My readers Dr. Louay El Shawarby and Dr. Moatassim Al-Ghiriani have extended all effort to help me with my legal part in the thesis. Had it not been for their support, this thesis would not have been complete. I am very grateful to my middle child, Aisha, who used all her gained master’s expertise to proofread, edit and sometimes improve my line of thought. I could have never managed without her constant availability in spite of her tremendous workload. My mom, my private listener to all my presentations, frustrations and successes throughout the three years of my work towards my degree: She dealt with me with patience and attentiveness that was more than she gave me at my younger age. I love you mom. God bless you. As to my non-biological sister, Azza, I can only say that had it not been for our daily calls in addition to all the stationary that you bought me to push me to work, write and finish this degree, I am not sure I could have ever managed. Last but not least, I thank my husband, Ahmed, for keeping up with the ups and downs during my thesis writing, the sleepless nights and the nervous breakdowns, not to mention the broken printers and the hanging computers that he had to fix. I love you endlessly.