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Charging by the Hour Through Estimation

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Mathabah.org
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Answered by Shaykh Yūsuf Badāt

Question

I have a job as a web programmer/ designer. Customers ask me how many hours it will take to make a certain website or script, so I give them an estimate time (based on how long I think the project will take me) and we agree on a price per hour. My question is that if I tell them it will take 10 hours to complete the website and if it takes me 7 hours to complete, charging them for 10 hours, will the money be ḥalāl? One thing also to consider that is sometimes it might take more than 10 hours, maybe 20, etc. and I am only charging them for 10 hours. Please tell me the correct Islamic ruling with regards to this.

Answer

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Your concern regarding good business practices is praiseworthy.

In response to your query, it must be noted that the ruling depends on how you are communicating to your clients. If you make a statement, for example saying, “This kind of work takes approximately ten hours and I will charge you for ten hours” then it would be permissible. However, if you are deliberately lying or cheating someone, then it would be islamically incorrect.

The Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings upon him) said, “The one who cheats is not of us (meaning, not following our path)” (Saḥīḥ Muslim)

And Allāh Knows Best

This answer was collected from Mathabah.org. It’s an Islamic educational institute based in Canada. The questions are generally answered by Sheikh Yusuf Badat and Sheikh Omar Subedar.

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