Transactions which are Prohibited and Invalid
2083. Some transactions are invalid but not forbidden, and some are forbidden but not invalid, and some are both: forbidden and invalid. Of these, the main ones are:
1. Some of the essentially najis items, such as intoxicating drinks and pigs, the selling and buying of which is both forbidden and invalid. The same goes for najis carcasses and non-hunting dogs, selling and buying of which is invalid, and based on obligatory precaution forbidden as well.
In other than the aforementioned cases, in the event that it has a permissible benefit, one accepted by intelligent persons, such as animal waste which is used as fertilizers, or blood which is injected into sick patients, buying and selling of it is permissible and valid. The recommended precaution however is that it should be avoided.
2. Buying and selling usurped property, which is invalid without the permission of the owner. However, the act itself is not forbidden; rather, any corporeal use of the usurped property is forbidden.
3. Buying or selling things which are of no actual value in the eyes of the people, and buying or selling it would be considered absurd by them, such as animals which are considered to have no (monetary) value. Such a transaction is invalid, but not forbidden.
4. Transacting a thing which is usually utilized in a forbidden manner, such as media for gambling, which is both invalid and forbidden.
5. A transaction which involves interest is both invalid and forbidden.
6. Selling goods that are adulterated with something else, given that the other good is unknown, and the seller does not inform the buyer either, such as selling ghee which has been mixed with suet, or setting a price on an adulterated item. Such a transaction is invalid, and in some cases—as will be elaborated later—forbidden.
The Holy Prophet (sawas) has made a statement to the following effect, “He is not of the Muslims, one who deceives the Muslims.”
It has also been reported from him, “Whoever deceives his Muslim brother, God withholds his blessings from the person’s sustenance, constrains his livelihood, and abandons him to himself.”
2084. There is no problem in selling a §¡hir item which has become najis, but is washable. However, if the buyer wishes to consume the item, or requires it for a task in which the apparent §ah¡rah of the item is not sufficient, such as water for performing wu¤u’ or ghusl, then the seller must inform him of it being najis. The same will apply based on obligatory precaution to clothes, if the buyer wishes to offer prayers with genuinely §¡hir clothes, even though the apparent §ah¡rah of the body and the clothes will suffice for prayers in the case of one who is ignorant (of it being najis).
2085. If a §¡hir item which is not washable becomes najis, but possesses a legally permissible benefit accepted by intelligent people, then there is no harm in buying or selling it. However, if the buyer needs it for a purpose like consuming it, or if its being najis invalidates the buyer’s act of worship which is conditional on it being §¡hir, then it is obligatory on the seller to inform the buyer of it being najis. An example of this would be a buyer wanting to burn najis oil, but in the process making his food najis, or rendering his body najis whereby invalidating his wu¤u’ or ghusl. Similarly, obligatory precaution dictates that the seller should inform the buyer in cases where even though the naj¡sah of the body or the clothes does not invalidate one’s wu¤u’ or ghusl, but the buyer wishes to pray with a body or with clothes which are genuinely §¡hir.
2086. Buying and selling najis consumable medicines is not valid in the event that it does not possess a legally permissible benefit—other than its consumption—that is accepted by intelligent people. In the event that it does, it is valid. However, the seller must inform the buyer of it being najis.
If the medicine is not meant to be consumable, buying or selling it is permissible. However, the seller must inform the buyer in the manner outlined in the previous article.
2087. There is no problem in buying or selling oil that is imported from non-Muslim countries as long as one does not know it to be najis. The same will apply if it is known to be najis, but also possesses a legally permissible benefit accepted by intelligent people. In the latter case, the seller must inform the buyer according to the details which were elaborated in article 2085.
As for the oil that is derived from an animal after its death, even though one may entertain the possibility that it was slaughtered according to Islamic law, if it is acquired from the hands of a k¡fir—in the event that it is not determined that the k¡fir acquired it from a Muslim or a Muslim market—or imported it from non-Muslim countries, it is forbidden to consume it, and buying or selling it is invalid, and it will be considered najis.
2088. If a fox or similar animal is slaughtered in a manner that has not been prescribed by the shari’a, or if it dies by itself, then buying or selling its skin will not be valid, and based on precaution forbidden as well.
2089. Buying or selling leather products which are imported from non-Muslim countries, or are acquired from the hands of a k¡fir—in the event that it is not determined that the k¡fir acquired it from a Muslim or a Muslim market—is not valid, even though one may entertain the possibility that it was slaughtered according to Islamic law. It is also not permissible to offer prayers in it.
2090. Buying or selling oil which is derived from an animal after its death is not valid, and consuming the oil is not permissible.
It is also not valid to buy or sell leather products which are acquired from a Muslim, whom a person knows to have acquired it from a k¡fir, and also knows that he has not bothered to investigate whether the leather was acquired from an animal slaughtered according to Islamic law, or not. It will not be permissible to offer prayers with such a product.
2091. A transaction that involves intoxicating drinks is both invalid and forbidden.
2092. The sale of a usurped property without the consent of the owner is void. The seller must also return to the buyer the money that he acquired from him.
2093. If a buyer intends to engage in a transaction, but also intends not to pay the price of the commodity that he is buying, the transaction will be valid and it is obligatory for him to pay its price to the seller.
2094. If a buyer purchases an item with an abstractly defined payment, and pays for it with wealth that was acquired illegally, the transaction will nonetheless be valid. However, as long as he does not pay off the liability with wealth that is acquired legally, he will not be absolved of his responsibility (to pay the seller).
2095. The purchase and sale of instruments of entertainment, such as guitars and lutes is forbidden. This ruling, when applied to small guitars which are used as toys by children, is based on precaution. As for instruments which are dual-purpose, such as mp3 players and voice recorders, there is no harm in buying or selling such items as long as they are not meant to be used in a forbidden manner.
2096. If a thing which can be used in a legal manner, is sold to a person who uses it in an illegal manner for the express purpose that he use it in an illegal manner, then the transaction will be both invalid and forbidden. An example of this is selling grapes with the understanding that they will be made into wine. However, if he does not sell it with this intention, but is only aware that the buyer will make wine with it, there will be no problem in it.
2097. It is forbidden to make sculptures of living things, and so is—based on obligatory precaution—illustrating images of it. However, buying, selling and keeping it, is permissible, though better to avoid.
2098. Transactions carried out with items acquired through gambling, stealing, or void transactions, are uncommissioned. Their validity and sanctioning is contingent on the permission of the owner or his guardian. Any use of the item is forbidden, and the person who possesses it must return it to the owner or his guardian.
2099. If a person sells ghee that is mixed with suet, and the transaction is based on particularized goods, such as the case wherein the person states, “I am selling these three kilograms of ghee,” then such a transaction can take two forms:
1. The amount of suet mixed in the ghee is to an extent that it would still be deemed three kilograms of ghee in the common understanding, albeit an adulterated form of it. In this case the transaction will be valid, but the buyer will maintain the right to cancel it.
2. The amount of suet mixed in the ghee is to an extent that it is no longer deemed to be three kilograms of ghee in the common understanding; rather, they view it as a mixture of ghee and suet. In this case, the transaction is invalid in proportion to the amount of fat in it. The money that the seller acquires for the suet in the mixture belongs to the buyer, and the suet belongs to the seller. In fact the buyer may also cancel the transaction with respect to the pure ghee within the mixture.
If however the transaction is not based on particularized goods, rather the sale is based on three kilograms of ghee in an abstractly defined form, and later the seller delivers ghee mixed with suet, the buyer reserves the right to return the adulterated ghee and demand pure ghee.
2100. If an amount of a commodity that is sold based on weight or volume, is sold for a greater weight or volume of the same commodity, such as one kilogram of wheat sold for one and a half kilograms of the same, it is interest and therefore forbidden. The transaction is also void. The same will apply if one of them is faultless and the other is defective, or one of superior quality and the other inferior, or if they are subject to a difference in price. Should the sale and purchase be based on the difference in their amounts, it will still be interest and forbidden. The transaction will also be void.
Therefore, if a person gives unbroken copper and acquires in return a greater amount of broken copper, or gives rice of superior quality and acquires in return a greater amount of inferior quality rice, or gives finished gold and acquires in return a greater amount of raw gold, it is interest and forbidden. The transaction is also void.
2101. If the additional asset acquired from the transaction is other than the commodity being sold, such as a the sale of one kg of wheat for one kg of wheat and two dollars, it will still be interest, and therefore forbidden. The transaction will also be void.
In fact, even if the seller does not take any extra goods, but stipulates that the buyer should render some services to him, it will again be interest and therefore forbidden. The transaction will also be void.
2102. If one wishes to avoid interest based transactions in the sale and purchase of commodities that are measured by weight or volume, he must be careful to ensure that an excess or that which is subject to the rulings of an excess—as elaborated in the previous article—does not occur on either sides of the transaction. For example, one may sell one kg of wheat and one handkerchief for one and a half kg of wheat in immediate payment, so that the extra half of a kg of wheat would be in lieu of the handkerchief. The same applies in a case where there is an excess on both sides, such as the sale of one kg of wheat and one handkerchief for 1.5 kg wheat and one handkerchief, by considering what was elaborated earlier.
2103. If a person sells a commodity that is sold in meters or yards, such as cloth, or a commodity that is sold per piece, such as eggs or walnuts, and takes more in return, there is no problem in it as long as the transaction is based on two particularized commodities.
The same will apply if it is sold in an abstractly defined manner, and there is a distinction between the two, such as the sale—in an abstractly defined manner—of 10 large eggs for 11 medium eggs. However, if there is no distinction between the two, to claim the validity of the transaction is problematic.
The same will also apply to the sale of currency notes—even though it is a countable item—in return for more, in the event that they are of the same currency, regardless of whether they are both particularized or abstractly defined. To claim the validity of such a transaction is also problematic.
2104. The goods that are sold by weight or volume in some cities, and by count in other cities, will—in each city—be subject to the ruling of the method that is conventional in that city, given the absence of an overriding tendency between the two methods. The same will apply if it is sold by weight or volume in most cities, and by count in some cities. In the latter case, the precaution is that the commodity should not be sold for something more than its value.
2105. If the commodity being sold is not the same as the item being received in lieu of it, there is no problem in taking more. Hence, if someone sells one kg of rice, and takes two kgs of wheat in return, the transaction will be valid.
2106. If the commodity being sold, and the one being received in return are both derived from the same origin, one should not take any excess in the transaction. Therefore, if a person sells one kg of cow’s ghee and takes one and a half kg of cow’s cheese in return, it will be interest, and hence forbidden. The transaction will also be void. The same applies if ripe fruits are bartered for unripe fruits of the same kind.
2107. In the rulings pertaining to interest based transactions, barley and wheat are considered to be of one species. Therefore, if—for example—a person gives one kg of wheat and takes in return one and a half kgs of barley, the transaction will be interest based, forbidden and void. Similarly, if a person takes 10 kgs of barley, in return for giving 10 kgs of wheat at the beginning of the harvest, then because he is acquiring the barley immediately and delivering the wheat after a while, it is as if he is acquiring something extra, and therefore the transaction is forbidden and void.
2108. A Muslim may take interest from a non-Muslim who is not under the protection of Islam. As for a non-Muslim who is under the protection of Islam, it is not permissible to carry out an interest based transaction with him. However, if the transaction has already been carried out, if taking interest is permissible in the non-Muslim’s religion, he may take it.
Additionally, a father and son, or a husband and his permanent wife may take interest from each other.