Principles of Business Part Two


Purchasing An Item Without Seeing It

Defects In An Item

Invalid And Improper Transactions

Selling At A Profit Or At Cost


Purchasing an item without seeing it

1. A person purchases an item without having seen it. This transaction is valid. However, once he sees the item, he has the right to return it or keep it. This is irrespective of whether there is any defect in the item or not. Even if the item is exactly as he had envisaged it to be, he still has the right to return it or keep it.

2. A person sold an item without even looking at it. This person who sells the item does not have the right to take it back after he sees it. Only the buyer has the right of returning an item after seeing it.

3. A hawker came selling peas. The top of the heap had all good quality peas. Upon seeing this, the buyer bought the entire basket of peas. However, the peas that were in the bottom of the heap were of an inferior quality. He still has the right to return them. However, if all the produce is of the same quality, it will be sufficient to see a few. Once he does this, he forfeits the right to return them irrespective of whether he sees all the produce or not.

4. A person bought guavas, pomegranates, coconuts or anything else which is generally not all the same. As long as the person does not see all the fruit, he will have the right to return them. By his seeing a few of the fruit, he does not forfeit the right to return.

5. If a person purchases something that is to be consumed (either by eating it or drinking it), he does not forfeit his right to return by merely seeing it. He should also taste it. If he does not like it, he has the right to return it.

6. A person had seen an item long ago. He purchased it today but did not look at it at the time of purchasing it (thinking that there is no need to do so since he had seen it previously). When he took it home, it was exactly as he had seen it a long time ago. After seeing it, he does not have the right to return it. However, if, after seeing it after so long, he notices some difference in it, he has the choice of keeping it or returning it.


Defects in an item

1. When selling an item, it is wajib on the person to show all the defects that may be found in it. It is harâm to conceal the defects and to convince the person into buying such an item.

2. After purchasing an item, a person noticed a defect in it, e.g. a woman notices that a cloth has been eaten up, a shawl has some moths in it or she notices any other defect. She now has the choice of keeping the item as it is, or returning it to the seller. However, if she decides to keep it, she will have to pay the full price of the item. It is not permissible for her to reduce an amount from the total price as a compensation for the defect. But if the seller agrees to reduce the price because of the defect, it will be permissible for her to pay less.

3. A person had purchased some fabric and kept it aside. A child ripped off a corner of that fabric or cut it with a pair of scissors. Thereafter, he noticed that it is damaged from the inside as well and that a rat has eaten it at several places. The person cannot return this item because one additional defect took place at his house (i.e. when the child had cut it). However, he can have the price reduced as a compensation for the defect that took place at the shopkeeper’s place (i.e. the several places that had been eaten by a rat). People who know the value of the item should be asked to estimate its present value and the price reduced accordingly.

4. Similarly, if a defect is noticed after a fabric has been purchased and already cut, it cannot be returned but the price will be reduced. However, if the seller says, “Return the cut fabric and take a full refund, I am not going to reduce the price”, he has the right to ask for it and the buyer cannot refuse to return it.

If the fabric has been cut and also sewn and thereafter a defect is noticed, the price will be reduced as a compensation for the defect. In such a case, the seller cannot take his fabric back.

If the buyer sells that fabric or cuts it with the intention of sewing something for her immature child and at the same time making a firm resolution of giving it to the child, and thereafter a defect is noticed, then the price cannot be reduced. But if she cut it with the intention of sewing something for her mature child, the price can be reduced.

5. A person purchased eggs and paid a certain price per egg. When the eggs were broken, all of them turned out to be rotten. The buyer can take all his money back and it will be regarded as if he did not purchase the eggs at all. If a few turn out to be rotten, he can claim the money for those that are rotten.

If a person purchases several eggs which have all been priced together (i.e. he does not pay a certain price per egg), then we will have to see how many rotten eggs come out from the entire lot. If five or six eggs are rotten out of a total of 100 eggs, it will not be considered. But if more than this turns out to be rotten, he can claim the money for those that are rotten.

6. A person purchased cucumbers, sweet-melons, water-melons, pumpkins, almonds, walnuts, etc. When they were cut open or broken open, he noticed that they are rotten. In such a case, check whether they could be used, or they are so bad that they are absolutely useless and have to be thrown away. If they are absolutely useless, this transaction will not be valid and the person must claim all his money back. But if they can be used in some way, he must pay the market value of such items. The full price will not be paid.

7. If, out of 100 almonds, four or five are rotten it will not be considered. But if more than these turn out to be rotten, the person has the choice to reduce the price accordingly.

8. A person purchased 150 grams of wheat for R1 or 100 grams of ghee for R1. A portion of both these items was good, while the balance turned out to be bad. It is not permissible to keep the good and return the bad. If he decides to keep them, he will have to keep all. And if he decides to return them, he will have to return all. However, if the seller agrees to take back all the bad and give you the good, it will be permissible to do so. The buyer cannot do this without the consent of the seller.

9. When there is any defect in an item, the person will only have the right to return it when it is established that there is no indication that the person is happy about taking the defective item. However, once a person agrees to purchase an item after seeing the defect, he does not have the right to return that item. But if the seller takes it back happily, it will be permissible. For example, a person purchased a goat or cow. When he went home with it, he realized that it is sick or there is a wound on its body. Once he notices this defect and expresses his consent and says to himself, “Well, it’s okay. I’ve bought a defective animal”, he will no longer have the right to return it. If he does not say anything verbally, but carries out certain actions which show that he is satisfied with the animal, then too will he no longer have the right to return it. For example, if he starts treating its wound and gives it some medication, he will no longer have the right to return it.

10. A person purchased goat’s meat. When he went home, he realized that it is the meat of a sheep. He has the right to return it.

11. A woman purchased a pearl necklace or some other jewellery and also wore it at some time or the other. Alternatively, she purchased a pair of shoes and began walking around with it. Now she cannot return these items if she finds any defect in them. However, if she wears the shoes in order to check whether they fit her properly and that she does not experience any discomfort by wearing them, there will be no harm in wearing them for a little while in order to test them and she still has the right to return them if she wishes to do so.

Similarly, if a person purchases a flat-couch (refers to a flat wooden type of bed) or bed and lays them down out of necessity or begins to offer salâh on that couch or uses the bed in some way or the other, he will no longer have the right to return the bed or couch. Other items could be understood in the same manner. That is, once they are used for any purpose, they cannot be returned.

12. At the time of selling an item, a person said, “You better check it properly before you buy it. Later if you find any defect in it, I will not be responsible.” Despite the seller saying this, the person purchased the item. Later, he cannot return it irrespective of how many defects it may have. It is permissible for the seller to sell an item in this manner and it is no longer  wajib  on him to show the defect that may be in the item.


Invalid and improper transactions

1. A transaction which is not considered in the Sharî‘ah, which is regarded as useless, and regarding which one will say that it is as if the person did not even purchase the item and the seller did not even sell it, is referred to as bâtil or invalid. The rule with regard to such a transaction is that the person who purchased the item does not become its owner and that it is still considered to be under the ownership of the seller.  Therefore, it is not permissible for the buyer to consume it or to give it to anyone. It is not permissible for him to utilise it in any way.

As for the transaction which has taken place but some sort of shortcoming is found in it, is referred to as fâsid or improper. The rule with regard to such a transaction is that as long as the item does not come into the possession of the buyer, ownership of that item will not be transferred to him. Once he takes possession of it, it will come under his ownership but it is not halâl and tayyib. Therefore, it is not permissible for him to consume it or utilise it in any way. Instead, it is wajib to cancel or annul this transaction. If the person wishes to keep it, he must recommence the transaction and then purchase it. If the person did not cancel this transaction and instead, sold the item to someone else, he will be committing a sin.

However, it will be permissible for the second buyer to consume it or utilise it in any way and this second transaction will be valid. If the person sold it at a profit, it will be wâjib on him to give the profits in charity. It is not permissible for him to use it for his personal purposes.

2. The custom of selling the fish that is in the lakes or pools of landlords is a bâtil transaction. All the fish that are in these lakes and pools do not belong to anyone as long as they are not caught and fished out. The person who catches the fish becomes its owner. Once you have understood this aspect, now try and understand the following : if the landlords do not even own those fish, how can it be permissible forthem t o sell them? Obviously, if the landlord catches the fish himself and then sells it, this will be permissible. If he asks someone else to catch the fish, that person will become its owner. The landlord has no right over the fish which has been caught by that person. In the same way, it is also not permissible for him to prevent people from fishing there.

3. Grass began growing on its own on a person’s land. He did not plant it nor did he irrigate it. This grass does not belong to anyone. Anyone can come and cut it and take it away. It is not permissible for the owner of the land to sell it nor is it permissible for him to stop anyone from cutting it. However, if the person irrigated it and put some work into it, it will come under his ownership. Now it will be permissible for him to sell it and to stop others from cutting it as well.

4. The young of an animal that is still in the stomach of the mother cannot be sold before it is born. Such a transaction is bâtil. However, it is permissible to sell the entire animal. But if the owner says, “I am selling this goat to you but the kid that is in its stomach belongs to me. Once it gives birth to that kid, you will have to give it to me”, then such a transaction is fâsid.

5. The milk that is still in the udders of an animal cannot be sold before it can be milked. Such a transaction is bâtil. The owner will have to milk the cow first and then sell the milk. Similarly, it is prohibited and bâtil to sell the wool that is on a sheep before it can be sheared.

6. It is not permissible to sell the timber, wood, etc. that is part of the house or roof before removing or digging these items out.

7. It is not permissible to sell the hair, bones, etc. of humans. Such a transaction is bâtil. It is also not permissible to utilise these things for one’s personal purposes.

8. Apart from pigs, the bones, hair and horns of dead animals are pure. It is permissible to use them and to sell them as well.

9. You purchased a goat or any other item for R5 from someone, took possession of it, took it home and had it tied. However, you did not pay for it as yet. Coincidentally, you are unable to pay for it or you decided not to keep it any longer. You therefore went to the person and said : “Take this goat back for R4 and I will give you R1 separately.” This selling and this taking away will not be permissible. As long as the person does not give him the full amount in cash, it will not be permissible to sell it to him for a lesser price.

10. A person sold his house on the condition that he will not hand it over immediately. Instead, he will stay in it for one month. Alternatively, he sold it on the condition that the buyer gives him a certain amount of money as a loan. Or a person purchased fabric on the condition that the person who is selling it must cut and sew it. Or he made the condition that he will purchase it on condition that it is delivered to his house. Or he made any other similar condition which is regarded as baseless and prohibited in the Sharî‘ah. In all these cases, the transaction will be fâsid.

11. A person purchased a cow on condition that it gives four litres of milk. This transaction is fâsid. However, if he did not specify any amount but merely made the condition that this cow gives a lot of  milk, the transaction will be permissible.

12. A person purchased animate toys (such as dolls) for his children. This transaction is bâtil. Such toys have no value in the Sharî‘ah. Therefore, no price will be paid for them and if someone happens to break them, he will not have to pay any compensation.

13. If you purchased dry groceries, oil, ghee, etc. for a certain amount per kilogram, the seller could have given you these items in any of the following three ways :

(a) He weighed these items in your presence or in the presence of the person whom you sent.

(b) He did not weigh them. Instead, he asked you to go home and told you that he will send the items to you.

(c) The items were already weighed and kept aside and when you asked for them, he merely picked them up and gave them to you without re-weighing them.

The rule with regard to (a) is that once you bring the items home, you do not have to weigh them. You can eat them, drink them, use them, sell them, and do whatever else you like without having to re-weigh them. All this is permissible and valid.

The rule with regard to (b) and (c) is that as long as you do not weigh them yourself, you cannot consume them, you cannot sell them nor can you use them in any way. If you sell them without weighing them, the transaction will be fâsid. Even if you weigh them after this, the transaction will not be proper.

14. Before he could sell you these items, he weighed them and showed them to you. Thereafter, you purchased them but he did not re-weigh them. In such a case, it is necessary for you (the buyer) to re-weigh them. You cannot consume them or sell them without re-weighing them. Although he weighed them and showed them to you before you could buy them, this weighing of his  will not be considered.

15. All items apart from land, properties, houses, etc. cannot be resold as long as the buyer does not take possession of them after buying them.

16. A person purchased a goat or any other item. After a few days another person comes and says that the goat actually belongs to him. Someone had taken it away and sold it to you without it belonging to him. If this person can substantiate his claim with two witnesses in the presence of a Shar’î judge, the goat will have to be given to him once the judge passes judgement in his favour. This person (who had purchased the goat) cannot claim the money from him. Instead, he can claim the money from the person from whom he had purchased the goat.

17. A fowl, goat or cow died. It is harâm to sell that animal. Such a transaction is bâtil. In fact, it is not even permissible to give this dead animal to the toilet-cleaners and tanners for their consumption. However, if you give it to the toilet-cleaner or tanner for throwing away and he picks it up and eats it, there will be no blame on you. It is permissible for you to have the animal skinned, it’s skin treated and tanned and thereafter to sell it or use it for your personal purposes.

18. Once a person decides to purchase an item, has it weighed, agrees on a price and the seller also agrees to sell it at a particular price, it will not be permissible for someone else to come and bid a higher price and take it away. Similarly, it is not permissible for another person to say : “Don’t buy from him. I will give it to you at a better price.”

19. A hawker sold four guavas to you for R1. Another person bargained with him and got five guavas for R1. On seeing this, you have no right to ask him for one more guava. It is not permissible and harâm to take it forcefully. You can only take what you had agreed upon with him.

20. A person is selling something but he does not want to sell it to you. It is not permissible to take the item forcefully and give him the money. This is because he is the owner of that item, he can sell it if he wishes. If not, he does not have to sell it. He also has the right to sell it to whomsoever he wishes. Very often, the police take things forcefully. This is absolutely harâm. If any woman’s husband is a policeman and he brings any item home, she must find out properly as to where he obtained it from. She must not use that item without asking him.

21. A person bought a kilo of potatoes. Thereafter, he took a few more potatoes forcefully. This is not permissible. But if the seller gives a few more on his own will, it will be permissible to accept them. Similarly, once a price has been agreed upon and the person takes the item, it will not be permissible to give an amount less than the price that was agreed upon. If the seller happily reduces the price on his own, it will be permissible.

22. If there is a bee-hive in a person’s house, he will be regarded as its owner. It is not permissible for anyone else to break it or take it away without his permission. If a bird gives birth to some chicks  in a person’s house, he does not become the owner of those birds. Instead, whoever catches them  will become their owner. However, it is not permissible to catch the chicks and trouble them.


Selling at a profit or at cost

1. I purchased an item for R1. I have the right to sell this item for R1, R10, R20, R50 or at any other  price. There is no sin in this. However, if the transaction was settled in a way that the buyer says, “Make a profit of 10c on the item and sell it to me”, and you say, “Okay, I will sell it to you after  making a profit of 10c on it”, then in such a case it is not permissible for you to make a profit of more than 10c on that item. Alternatively, the buyer says, “For whatever price you purchased it, add 40c profit to it and sell it to me.” Even in such a case, it will be wajib on you to quote the correct price and it will be harâm to make more than 40c profit. Similarly, if you tell the buyer, “I will sell this to you at cost and I won’t make any profit from you”, it will not be permissible to make any profit. It will be wâjib to quote the cost price.

2. You intend purchasing an item and you ask the seller to sell it to you at a profit of 10c. He replies, “Okay, I sell it to you at a profit of 10c.” Alternatively, you say, “Sell it to me at your cost price.” He replies, “Okay, give me that amount and don’t give me any profit.” However, in both cases, he did not tell you the cost price of the item as yet. In such a case, if he quotes you his cost price before getting up from his place, the transaction will be valid. But if he does not quote you the price at that place, and says, “Take the item now, I will check the price and inform you” or says something else, then in such a case the transaction will be fâsid.

3. After taking the item, the buyer learns that the person hadn’t quoted the correct cost price and had made a profit more than what he had promised. In such a case the buyer does not have the right to give a lesser amount. If he wishes to purchase the item, he will have to pay the price that was quoted to him. However, he does have the right to return the item if he does not wish to purchase it. If the seller had agreed to sell the item at cost and had promised that he will not make any profit and thereafter quoted an amount that is more than his cost price, then he does not have the right to take more than the cost price. The buyer has the right to pay the cost price and not pay the additional amount that he had quoted.

4. You purchased an item on credit. As long as you do not inform other buyers that you have purchased it on credit, it will not be permissible for you to sell it at a profit or at cost (if mention of the cost price is made at the time of sale). Instead, you should inform them that you purchased the item on credit. In so doing, it will be permissible for you to sell it at cost or at a profit. However, if you  do not make any mention of your cost prices, it will be permissible for you to sell it at whatever  price you wish.

5. You purchased a cloth for R100. Thereafter, you had it dyed at a cost of R4. Alternatively, you had it washed or sewn for R4. It will now be understood that you acquired it for R104. It will now be permissible for you to mention its cost price as being R104 and thereafter to make your profit on this amount. However, you should not say that you purchased it for R104. Instead, you should say that it landed you at R104 so that it is not regarded as a lie.

6. You purchased a goat for R100. You kept it with you for one month and it cost you R10 to feed it in this one month. It will be permissible for you to quote the cost price as being R110, and sell it at a profit accordingly. However, if this goat produces milk, you will have to subtract that amount accordingly as well, e.g. if it cost you R10 to feed this goat and it produced milk to the value of R5, you will have to subtract this amount from the R10 and say that this goat landed you at R105. There are many other masâ’il in this regard but since women do not encounter them very frequently, we have not mentioned them. (Bearing in mind that Bahishti Zewar was originally written for women).

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