Home » Hanafi Fiqh » Fatwa.ca » Selling Merchandise through on-demand print services

Selling Merchandise through on-demand print services

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Fatwa.ca


Assalaamu ‘alaikum Mufti sahib,

Is it permissible to sell merchandise through services like Cafe Press? [cafepress.com]

What they do:

– they are an on-demand print service, where they can print your uploaded artwork onto various blank merchandise, such as mugs, t-shirts, etc.

– you can have your own shop front with your selection of merchandise with your uploaded art work which visitors can buy from.

– although the base item (ie. blank t-shirt/mugs) already exist with in the stock of the company, the actual prints are made only after a customer has ordered it.

– in terms of profit split: the designer keeps 100% of the profit from the markup above the base price. e.g. if the base price of a blank t-shirt is $15, and the designer charges its customers $20 for the shirt at their shop front, then the profit for the designer is $5.

– Cafe Press would charge a fixed monthly fee of $7 or so, and some nominal fees for every transaction.

My specific questions:

– is the earning through a service like this permissible, given that the exact print is made “on-demand”, which is after the payment has been made?

– given that the shop front is going to be on “cafepress.com”, the users are likely to already realise that this is an on-demand service.

– but as an added note, will I be required to mention in the product description that the exact print will be made by the print service (i.e. Cafe Press) after the payment?

I hope the question makes sense.

Kindly let me know if this is permissible, or how to work within such services and have permissible earning. JazaakAllaahu khairan.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

There are two legs to this business.

  1. The sale of commodities with customized print jobs
  2. The hosting of such a shop on CafePress platform

An on-demand printing shop which you have described essentially provides a commodity with customized specific objects printed on a merchandise.

In essence, there is nothing wrong with this dealing. From Shar’i terms, such a sale will be “Bay’ al-Salam (بیع السلم)”. There are a few conditions which should be made clear.

  • This transaction must be conducted in items which are sold by weight, measure or units.
  • The purchased item must be specified (such as the T-Shirt, its size, pattern/print on it etc)
  • The quality and classification of the item must be specified (such the material composition etc.)
  • The amount must be specified
  • And the time of delivery must be specified to the closest possibility.
  • The price must be specified for the purchaser to pay upfront.

If these are specified on the order form, then selling the commodity will be acceptable while taking the payment upfront through the website.

With he above being said, let us also review the aspect of seller being hosted on the CafePress. From your question, I gather that CafePress is a platform which allows sellers to sell on their website. For this they may charge the seller a subscription fee, or per transaction fee for hosting them. The particulars of remunerations towards the CafePress should be known and understood beforehand.

If they charge a subscription, then it is a simple Ijarah (rental) for using their facilities.

And similarly, if they charge per transaction, then they are working as your agent to display your product on their platform, whereby they will take a commission for the final sale.

In both these cases, they are also acting as suppliers for your raw materials so that you may sell your final product.

This transaction between the seller and CafePress is shariah compliant as well.

The fact that the final client (purchaser) only gets to see the sale price of final commodity does not affect the above transaction.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mufti Faisal bin Abdul Hameed al-Mahmudi

This answer was collected from Fatwa.ca, which is a fatwa portal operated by Mufti Faisal al Mahmudi from Canada. 

Read answers with similar topics: