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Chapter ten » Conditions relating to the seller and the buyer → ← Chapter ten » Disapproved (makrūh) transactions

Chapter ten » Unlawful (ḥarām) transactions

Ruling 2063. There are many unlawful transactions; some of them are as follows:

1.
buying and selling intoxicating drinks, non-hunting dogs, pigs, and – based on obligatory precaution (al-iḥtiyāṭ al-wājib) – impure (najis) carcasses. Apart from these, buying and selling an intrinsic impurity (ʿayn al-najāsah) is permitted if it is for some significant and lawful use, such as buying and selling impure animal waste for use as fertilisers;
2. buying and selling usurped (ghaṣbī) property, if this necessitates having disposal over it, such as handing it over and taking possession of it;
3. transactions with money that is no longer legal tender or with counterfeit money, if the other party is unaware of this; but if he is aware, the transaction is permitted;
4. transactions of unlawful objects; that is, things that have been made in a form that is usually utilised in an unlawful manner and its value is due to its unlawful utilisation, such as idols, crucifixes, gambling implements, and instruments of unlawful entertainment;
5. transactions in which there is deceit. The most noble Messenger (Ṣ) said, ‘One who deceives Muslims in his transactions is not one of us; Allah takes away the blessing of his sustenance, closes the path of his livelihood, and leaves him to himself.’ Deceit can take place in different ways, such as:
a. mixing a good item with a bad one or with something else; for example, mixing milk with water;
b. making an item appear better than it really is; for example, spraying water onto old vegetables to make them appear fresh;
c. feigning an item as something else; for example, gold-plating an item without informing the buyer [that it is not solid gold];
d. concealing a defect in an item when a buyer trusts the seller to not conceal defects.

Ruling 2064. There is no problem in selling an item that has become impure but is washable and may become pure (ṭāhir), such as a rug or utensil. The same applies if the item is not washable but the lawful and usual use of it is not dependent on it being pure, such as crude oil. In fact, even if its lawful and usual use is dependent on it being pure, in the event that it has a lawful and significant benefit, it is permitted to sell it.

Ruling 2065. If a person wishes to sell something that is impure, he must tell the buyer that it is impure in the event that were he to not tell him, the buyer would be at risk of committing an unlawful act or abandoning an obligatory act; for example, the buyer would use impure water to perform ablution (wuḍūʾ) or ritual bathing (ghusl) and then perform obligatory prayers (ṣalāh); or, he would use the impure item for eating or drinking. Of course, if one knows that telling the buyer would be of no avail – for example, he is someone who is unconcerned about religious matters – then it is not necessary to tell him.

Ruling 2066. Buying and selling impure consumable and non-consumable medicine is permitted; however, the seller must inform the buyer of it being impure in the case mentioned in the previous ruling.

Ruling 2067. There is no problem in buying and selling oil that has been imported from non-Muslim countries if one does not know it is impure. As for oil and other things that are acquired after the animal has died, such as gelatine, in the event that one acquires them from a disbeliever (kāfir) or they are imported from non-Muslim countries, they are pure and it is permitted to buy and sell them as long as one deems it probable that they have been acquired from an animal which was slaughtered according to Islamic law; however, it is unlawful to consume these things. Furthermore, it is necessary for the seller to tell the buyer how it was acquired in the event that were he to not tell him, the buyer would be at risk of committing an unlawful act or abandoning an obligatory one, similar to what was mentioned in Ruling 2065.

Ruling 2068. If a fox or similar animal is not slaughtered according to Islamic law or it dies by itself, then based on obligatory precaution, buying and selling its skin is not permitted; however, if it is doubtful [as to how the animal died,] then there is no problem.

Ruling 2069. It is permitted to buy and sell leather that is imported from non-Muslim countries or is acquired from a disbeliever in the event that one deems it probable that it is from an animal which was slaughtered according to Islamic law. Moreover, it is correct (ṣaḥīḥ) to perform prayers with it.

Ruling 2070. Oil and other products that are acquired from an animal after it has died are considered pure, and buying and selling them is permitted. The same applies to leather that is acquired from a Muslim whom a person knows to have acquired it from a disbeliever without investigating whether or not the leather was acquired from an animal that was slaughtered according to Islamic law. However, consuming such oil and the like is not permitted.

Ruling 2071. A transaction of wine and other intoxicating drinks is unlawful and invalid.

Ruling 2072. The sale of usurped property is invalid unless the owner subsequently consents to it; and [if the owner does not,] the seller must return to the buyer the money he received from him.

Ruling 2073. If a buyer seriously intends to engage in a transaction but his intention (qaṣd) is to not pay for the item that he is buying, this intention does not affect the validity of the transaction. However, it is necessary for him to pay the seller for the item.

Ruling 2074. If a buyer purchases an item undertaking to pay for it later, but he wishes to pay for it later with unlawful wealth, the transaction is valid. However, he must pay the amount he owes from lawful wealth in order to be absolved of his responsibility [to pay the seller].

Ruling 2075. The buying and selling of unlawful instruments of entertainment is not permitted. As for instruments that can be used for lawful or unlawful purposes, such as radios, recorders, and video players, there is no problem in buying and selling them, and it is permitted to keep them when one is confident (i.e. has iṭmiʾnān) that he and his family will not use them in unlawful ways.

Ruling 2076. If something that can be used in a lawful manner is sold so that it is used in an unlawful way – for example, a person sells grapes so that wine can be produced from them – then, irrespective of whether it was decided to sell that thing for the unlawful use at the time of the transaction or before it, if the transaction takes place on the basis of the unlawful use, it is unlawful. However, if a person does not sell it for that reason but knows that the buyer will produce wine from the grapes, there is no problem with the transaction.

Ruling 2077. Based on obligatory precaution, it is unlawful to make sculptures of living things; however, there is no problem in buying and selling such sculptures. As for illustrating living things, this is permitted.

Ruling 2078. Buying items that have been acquired through gambling, theft, or void (bāṭil) transactions is unlawful if this amounts to having disposal over them. If someone buys such an item and receives it from the buyer, he must return it to its original owner.

Ruling 2079. If a person sells ghee that is mixed with suet and he specifies it – for example, he says, ‘I am selling 1 kilogram of this ghee’ – then in case the amount of suet is a lot, i.e. to the extent that the product could not be said to be ghee, the transaction is void. But if the amount of suet is a little, i.e. to the extent that the product could be said to be ‘ghee mixed with suet’, then the transaction is valid. However, in this case, the buyer has the right to annul due to a defect (khiyār al-ʿayb),(1) i.e. he can annul the transaction and take back his money. Furthermore, if the ghee is distinguishable from the suet, the transaction in relation to the amount of suet mixed in the ghee is void, and the money that the seller takes for the suet belongs to the buyer and the suet belongs to the seller. The buyer can also annul the transaction with respect to the pure ghee within the product. However, if the seller does not specify it and he sells 1 kilogram of ghee, undertaking to give it later, and he later gives ghee mixed with suet, the buyer can return the mixed ghee and demand pure ghee.

Ruling 2080. If a commodity that is sold by weight or measure is sold for a greater weight or measure of the same commodity – for example, 1 kilogram of wheat is sold for 1.5 kilograms of wheat – it is usury (ribā) and unlawful. In fact, if one of two commodities is without defect and the other is defective, or the quality of one of them is good and the other is bad, or they are different to one another in price – then, in the event that the seller receives more than he gives, it is still usury and unlawful. Therefore, if a person gives unbroken copper and receives a greater amount of broken copper, or he gives rice of superior quality and receives a greater amount of inferior quality rice, or he gives gold that has been crafted [such as a piece of jewellery] and receives a greater amount of gold that has not been crafted, it is usury and unlawful.

Ruling 2081. If the extra thing that a seller receives is different to what he sells – for example, he sells 1 kilogram of wheat for 1 kilogram of wheat and 10 pence – it is still usury and unlawful. In fact, even if the seller does not receive any extra goods but makes it a condition that the buyer must do something for him, it is also usury and unlawful.

Ruling 2082. If a person gives a lesser amount but adds something else – for example, he sells 1 kilogram of wheat and one handkerchief for 1.5 kilograms of wheat – there is no problem as long as he intends the handkerchief to be the item for which he is receiving the extra amount [i.e. the extra half kilogram of wheat] and as long as the transaction is an immediate exchange (naqd) transaction.(2) Similarly, there is no problem if both sides add something extra – for example, one of them sells 1 kilogram of wheat and one handkerchief to the other person for 1.5 kilograms of wheat and one handkerchief – as long as they intend the handkerchief and half kilogram of wheat, on the one side, and the handkerchief, on the other, to be the items of exchange.

Ruling 2083. If a person sells a commodity that is sold in metres or yards, such as cloth, or a commodity that is sold by count, such as eggs and walnuts, and he takes more in return, there is no problem except if both [the commodity being sold and the payment in exchange (ʿiwaḍ)] are of the same commodity and the transaction has a time period, in which case its validity is problematic (maḥall al-ishkāl) [i.e. based on obligatory precaution, it is not valid].(3) An example [of such a problematic transaction] is when a person gives ten walnuts at the present time in order to receive twelve walnuts after one month. The same applies to selling currency. Therefore, there is no problem if, for example, a person sells British pounds sterling for another currency such as dinars or dollars, whether that be at the present time or at another time. However, if the person wishes to sell some currency for the same currency and to receive more in return, then that transaction must not have a time period otherwise its validity is problematic [i.e. based on obligatory precaution, it is not valid]. An example [of such a problematic transaction] is when a person sells £100 at the present time in order to receive £110 after six months.

Ruling 2084. With regard to commodities that are sold by weight or measure in one city or in most cities, and by count in other cities, it is permitted to sell that commodity for more in the city in which it is sold by count.

Ruling 2085. With regard to things that are sold by weight or measure, if the thing that is sold and the payment in exchange for it are not of the same commodity and the transaction does not have a time period, there is no problem in taking more. However, if the transaction has a time period, it is problematic [i.e. based on obligatory precaution, it is not valid]. Therefore, if 1 kilogram of rice is sold for 2 kilograms of wheat after one month, the validity of the transaction is problematic [i.e. based on obligatory precaution, it is not valid].

Ruling 2086. Selling ripe fruit for unripe fruit with extra is not permitted. If there is no extra and the transaction does not have a time period, it is disapproved (makrūh), and if it is on credit, it is problematic [i.e. based on obligatory precaution, it is not permitted].

Ruling 2087. With regard to usury based transactions, barley and wheat are considered to be the same commodity. Therefore, if, for example, a person gives 1 kilogram of wheat and receives 1.5 kilograms of barley in return for it, it is usury and unlawful. Also, if, for example, a person buys 10 kilograms of barley in return for 10 kilograms of wheat at the beginning of the harvest, then because he acquires the barley immediately but will give the wheat after some time, it is as if he has acquired something extra and the transaction is unlawful.

Ruling 2088. A father and his child, and a wife and husband can take interest from one another. Similarly, a Muslim can take interest from a disbeliever (kāfir) who is not under the protection of Islam. However, an interest based transaction with a disbeliever who is under the protection of Islam is unlawful. Of course, after the transaction has taken place, one can take more from him if giving interest is permitted in his religion.

Ruling 2089. Shaving one’s beard and taking a fee for doing so is not permitted, based on obligatory precaution. The exception to this rule is if it is done out of necessity or it would result in harm or hardship (ḥaraj) that cannot normally be endured, even if that hardship amounts to being mocked or insulted.

Ruling 2090. Singing (ghinā) is unlawful. The meaning of ‘singing’ here is void (bāṭil) speech that is articulated in a tune appropriate to gatherings of entertainment and amusement. Similarly, it is not permitted to recite the Qur’an, supplications (duʿāʾs), and the like in such a tune. And based on obligatory precaution, other forms of speech, apart from the ones already mentioned, must also not be articulated in such a tune. Similarly, listening to singing is unlawful, and taking a fee for singing is also unlawful and the fee does not become the property of the person who took it. Learning and teaching to sing is also not permitted. Music, i.e. playing instruments that are especially designed for music, is also unlawful if it is in a way that is appropriate to gatherings of entertainment and amusement [and listening to such music is unlawful as well]; other than that, it is not unlawful. Taking a fee for playing unlawful music is unlawful and the fee taken does not become the property of the person who took it. Teaching and learning it is also unlawful.
Chapter ten » Conditions relating to the seller and the buyer → ← Chapter ten » Disapproved (makrūh) transactions
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