Q&A (Fatwa)

#328: Ruling regarding Online Shopping


“Barakallahu fikum Ya admin. In a case where you want to buy something without seeing it physically, because I heard someone saying its not permissible to buy goods online without you seeing it physically, please I need elaboration, Afwan for any inconvenience I cause. Please what is the ruling for buying things online, is it permissible in some cases or not”


Alhamdulillaah, these two questions are the same and for that reason we decided to merge them together. Firstly, to buy something that one has not seen or laid hands on in the Shari’a is known as bay’u al-gharar. And what is meant by that is any transaction in which there is anonymity of the quality or defects of the item being purchased and there is a high risk of loss.

Imaam Muslim transmitted in his Sahih from Abu Hurayrah – radiyallaahu ‘an hu – that the Prophet – salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam – prohibited the trading of stones and the trading of Gharar.

Several other Ahaadith emphasize the prohibition of different forms of trade that take the same form.

For instance, the Hadith that was recorded by Haafidh Ad-Daaraqutni – rahimahullaah – from Anas bn Maalik – radiyallaahu ‘an hu – that the Prophet – salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam – forbade the selling of fruits until it becomes ripened, or the selling of wool that has not been removed from the (animal’s) back, or milk in the udder , or fat in the milk”

There are many other forms of such transactions that were specifically mentioned in the Ahaadith to be prohibited.

There is a Qaa’ida (Precept) in Usulu Al-Fiqh that says:

“Al-Illatu taduru ma’a al-hukmi wujudan wa ‘adaman” (the causative factor for the sanctioning of a ruling determines the ruling in both its presence and absence”

Imaam Ash-Shawkaani – rahimahullaah – said:

“The causative factor (Illa) for the prohibition of transacting by touching and not seeing the good (mulaamasa), and by gambling the choice of the good (munaabadha) is gharar (the gambling and risk involved), the anonymity of the defects if the good (jahaala) and the obliteration of the discretion of accepting or rejecting the good that is supposed to be integral parts of the transaction.” (Naylu Al-Awtaar)

It follows therefore that any transaction in which there is a gambling and and inability to know the defects of the good at the point of purchase and an inability to return the good due to defects is prohibited in Islam.

But for a transaction to be declared as gharar, the Ulamaa have mentioned 3 conditions:
1. That in it is anonymity of defect, risk or gambling
2. The anonymity, risk or gamble must be dominant in the transaction
3. The transaction must not be that about which the Ummah cannot do without.

Imaam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya said:
“It is not all gharar that can be a cause for the prohibition of a transaction. And it should be known that if the gharar in a trade is little or cannot be done without, it does not become an impediment in the soundness of a transaction.” Al-Haashiya

Imaam Al-Qaraafi Al-Maaliki – rahimahullaah – said:
“Gharar and Jahaala (anonymity in transaction) can be divided into three:
Much of it, which is forbidden by Ijmaa such as transacting a bird flying in the sky.
Small of it, which is permissible by Ijmaa such as the foundation of a building, the inner wool of a garment.
Intermediate of it, about which there is a difference of opinion among the Ulamaa on whether it should be aligned with the first or with the second…”

To align it with the little/negligible gharar is the fatwa of the Maalikis, and that is the soundest of the verdicts.

Therefore, it becomes apparent that most of the e-commerce that we have today cannot be referred to as a forbidden transaction due to the clarity of the transaction and the possibility of returning the good should one find in it what is a defect.

This does not seek to claim ignorance of the fact that in it is still some form of risks. But the risks in it are minimal and most times less the risks that are present in some physical transactions.

What we have mentioned is the verdict of majority of the Ulamaa. Allaah knows best.

Bārakallāhu Fīkum
Jazākumullāhu Khayran

📚 IslamNode


Islamnode is a platform for the dissemination of sound Knowledge of Islam and an orientation of Muslims of the Sciences of the Din in accordance with the Pristine Knowledge taught by the Rasul – Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam – to the Companions – Ridwanullah ‘Alayhim – and understood by them, their Students and those who followed them of the earliest generations. We follow the Sunnah of the Rasul – Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam – and promote the Works of the Ulama of Sunnah from the first generation to date. Our goal is to propagate the Sciences of Islam, to disseminate the sound understanding of the Salaf and to enable the sound education of Muslims in this era.

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