Buying and Selling Online
Fatwa No: 468913

  • Fatwa Date:14-1-2023 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 22, 1444
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السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته I have a question about an online business where I would sell things on I learned from a lecture about the principles of Al-Munaabadha (المنابذة), which involves a seller showing a buyer a garment but not allowing him to see the exact garment he is buying, and Al-Mulaamasa (الملامسة), which involves buying a garment without examining it fully (so you don't fully know what you would be buying). These acts are prohibited ( Is buying and selling online similar to this? When you buy products online, you can't examine the actual item you are buying, and as a seller I wouldn't even know the exact items I'd be selling since I would buy them from a supplier (who gets them from a manufacturer) and have them directly shipped to a warehouse, which would take care of all the shipping and logistics. All I'd be involved with is to list the item on Amazon with photos and a description, purchase inventory from the supplier, and respond to customer inquiries. I found these narrations in Muwatta Malik, but I don't know whether or not they're applicable to this situation ( andجزاك الله خيرا


All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The mentioned sale is not of that kind; it is rather one of the two following kinds: - first, it is concluded for a certain item that is owned by the seller, and thus belongs to the sale of the unknown, yet described, item. Al-Fawaakeh Ad-Dawaani reads, “It is permissible to sell the unknown, yet described, item.” Even though there is controversy among jurists on the permissibility of this kind of sale, the opinion on its permissibility in light of the option (to break it) is the most authentic one. As such, there is no harm – Allah willing – in concluding trade transactions via the internet or phone call, taking into account that the buyer has the option to halt the sale after examining the commodity; so if he finds that it is inconsistent with the descriptions given to him, he has the right to halt the sale. In fact, there is a big difference between this kind of sale and the sale of Al-Munaabadhah and Al-Mulaamasah, since the latter is Gharar (i.e. uncertain sale).

Second, there is a possibility that the sale herein has been concluded on something that is described under the liability of the seller, and thus belongs to Salam (i.e. to pay at present a price for a well-defined commodity that remains a liability on its seller until he delivers it at a definite future time), which is lawful on condition that the price should be paid out in the contracting session.

At this point, we call your attention to the fact that it is impermissible for the seller to sell a commodity in two cases: - (1) it is not owned by him and (2) he is not the representative of the owner. Indeed, the sale under these two cases is legally prohibited, meaning that a seller cannot sell a commodity under these two conditions after which he (i.e. the seller) would buy it from the owner and send it to the person who already bought it. The legal solution for this problem is for the person to agree with the owner of the commodity that he would exhibit it for him, with the aim of allowing him to incur the profit.

In this way, he would be the representative of the owner, and thus can sell it or agree with the buyer that he would bring him a certain commodity from its owner for a commission. As such, he would be a representative for the buyer or he could conclude a Salam contract with him to be delivered in a certain time for a price being paid in the contracting session, even if the price was not truly paid as if the buyer transfers it to his account.

Allah knows best.

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