Fatwas on Terms of Exchanged Items in a Sale
Q1507: Can one sell an organ of his body, such as kidney, to a patient who is in need of a transplant?
A: If removing the organ does not endanger the life of the donating person, there is no objection to his selling the said organ.
Q1508: Certain things are considered by the commoners as having no value. However, others attach great value and importance to these things such as insects, and other creatures that are used in scientific experiments in laboratories and universities. Are such things considered as having monetary value and as being a kind of property, which can, therefore, be bought and sold, or can a claim of compensation be lodged in the event of loss or damage?
A: Anything sensible people want to have, albeit some of them, for its legitimate usages, has monetary value and all rulings that apply to property — like ownership, permissibility of dealing, and liability due to having control over it, damage, etc — could be applied to it. That is except for those rulings which are proved in sharī‘ah as not applicable. Anyhow, it is a matter of caution that in trading things like insects or bees, payment is to be made in return for giving up control and the right of allocation over such things.
Q1509: Since the majority of mujtahids make it conditional that the object sold has to have physical reality, is the sale of scientific knowledge, as in bilateral agreements between governments of this day and age, sound?
A: If the knowledge is exchanged under the title of muṣālaḥah, there is no harm in it.
Q1510: What is the ruling in the matter of selling a plot of land or any other goods to someone who is known to be a thief, as he may pay for the goods with illicit money?
A: There is no objection to dealing with someone who is known to earn money through illicit ways per se. However, if you are absolutely sure that the money paid for the purchased goods is ḥarām, you are not allowed to receive it.
Q1511: For my dowry, I had a plot of land which I later sold. Someone has recently claimed that this land has been an endowment for the past two centuries. How should the sale of the land be treated? What would the position of my husband, who gave me this land as a dowry, be? And finally, what would the position of the buyer be?
A: All transactions done on this land are sound until the person who is claiming that the land is an endowment proves his claim before an Islamic court and that endowment is of the kind that is not permissible to be sold. Assuming that both the counts are successfully proven, all the transactions should then be deemed invalid. There and then, it is obligatory on you to return the money to the buyer and the land should be reinstated as endowment. Your husband should compensate the dowry.
Q1512: Sheep and cattle are smuggled from Iran in to the markets of the Persian Gulf states. Is it permissible to buy such animals in those markets?
A: It is forbidden — according to Islamic law — to export sheep and other quadrupeds to foreign countries through illicit methods and in contravention of the regulations of the Islamic state.
Q1513: Is it permissible for a person who has acquired an import license or a purchasing permit from the Chamber of Commerce to sell it in the open market without carrying out any activity in this regard?
A: In itself, there is no objection to doing so.
Q1514: Some goods are to be sold at auction by order of the court. Is it permissible to sell them below the price determined by a professional person if they do not fetch a higher price?
A: The price estimated by the professional person is not the final arbiter in determining the sale price at an auction. Should the goods be sold to the highest bidder in such a way that is both shar‘ī and legal, the sale is sound.
Q1515: We built a house on a plot of land whose owner is unknown. Is it permissible for us to sell the land and the house to a buyer who is aware of the position of the land, and that only the building belongs to us?
A: There is no objection to selling the house, not the land, if it was built on the land — whose owner is unknown — with the permission of the authorized religious authority.
Q1516: I sold my property to a person who gave me a down payment by way of a check. While some considerable time has passed and the inflation rate has gone up, he still refuses to cash it and there is no money in the account. Should I claim only the amount of the check or am I entitled to demand a higher price because of inflation?
A: The seller has no right to demand an increase over and above the agreed price. However, assuming that the interests of the seller were damaged due to a diminishing purchasing power precipitated by the delay in paying the money by the buyer, there is a caution to make muṣālaḥah with the buyer on the difference in the price.
Q1517: I bought a flat and agreed with the seller that he transfers its ownership to me after a specified period of time. The seller and I agreed in the contract that the price might increase up to 15%. The seller is now asking for an increase of 31% and he will never transfer the flat unless it is paid. Is he justified in his demand for the increase and in not completing the transfer of property?
A: If the final sale price was not concluded when the contract was made and it was left to the date of transferring the property, the sale is void. Thus, the seller has the right to refrain from completing the transaction and to put the price he wishes. Mere agreement between the two parties to decide the final sale price on the day of transfer of the property is not sufficient for the validity of the sale.
Q1518: I bought one fifth of a common share of a plastic factory at a particular price. I paid one quarter of the price in cash. The remainder three quarters was settled in three check payments. However, the factory, the money, and the checks are still in the possession of the seller. Can this sale be regarded valid whereby I can demand my share in the profit of the factory?
A: The validity of the transaction of selling and buying is not dependent on receiving the sold item and paying the whole amount in cash to the seller. If the purchase of one fifth of the factory from the rightful owner, his agent, or his guardian did materialize in a lawful manner, it should be in the ownership of the buyer, whereby all matters relating to the ownership should be applied. Thus, it is within the buyer’s right to demand his share of the profits of the factory.
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