Q: My question is with regards to business. Firstly, I will explain the methods I use to conduct business and transactions in order for you to understand and give me a solution in sha Allah. There are 2 methods which I use:
1) I look for products to sell online and once I find a suitable product I list the product online on Amazon.co.uk to sell. Once the item sells I buy the item from where I found/researched it or wherever else the product is available. I pay for the item and it is sent from the website I buy it from. Hence, I do not receive the item nor do I see it in person.
2) I look for products to sell online and once I find a suitable product then I list the product online on Amazon.co.uk to sell. Once the item sells I buy the item from the store and then I send it to the buyer myself.
In both situations when the item sells I do not receive the money until the item has been dispatched thus I pay for the item with my own money. Moreover, Amazon withholds the money the buyer sends and once I confirm that the product has been dispatched thereafter I receive the money in my account. The reasons I choose to sell in these methods is because I am not financially secure to buy the items as I am a student. Also there is the risk that the product may not sell thus I sell on a demand basis whereby if the item sells online then I purchase the item.
Please could you advise if the above methods i use are Shariah compliant? If not, please could you suggest alternative methods?
A: The methods you describe are not valid sales in the Sharī‘ah as they amount to selling an item before acquiring ownership of it.
An alternative would be to undertake a Bay‘ Salam with the customer. However, this will only be permissible if the commodity is Makīlī (one that is sold by measure), Mawzūnī (one that is sold by weight) or ‘Adadī Mutaqārib (one that has similar units and is sold as a unit). The process shall be as follows:
a) The following will have to be clearly mentioned:
The seller is not in possession of the item and will arrange its delivery once the customer has paid the money.
Complete description of the item being sold will have to be stated.
The time duration for delivery will have to be stated.
b) It is necessary for the seller to take an upfront payment from the customer.
c) Physical possession or receipt (qabdah) of the commodity is necessary before delivering it to the customer. Alternatively, the seller may appoint Amazon as his agent (wakeel) to take receipt of the commodity from the manufacturer/supplier and then deliver it to the customer. If this is not possible, the freight company should be appointed as his agent to take physical possession of the commodity and deliver it directly to the customer.
And Allah Ta‘ālā Knows Best