Q: In Zambia, many shopkeepers do business of third party cheques. The customer comes with a cheque on his name issued by his employer or any other company. He comes to the shopkeeper to cash the cheque. The shopkeeper agrees to cash the cheque on condition that he buys 20% of the value of the cheque worth of goods from his shop. E.g. The customer brings a cheque worth R5,000. The shopkeeper agrees to cash the cheque on condition that he buys R1,000 worth of goods from his shop. In lieu of the R5,000 cheque, the shopkeeper will give him R4,000 cash and R1,000 worth of goods. The benefit the shopkeeper gets from this transaction is the profit he makes in selling the R1,000 worth of goods. Thereafter the shopkeeper will recover the R5,000 by cashing the cheque in his bank. (He has a prior agreement with his bank to cash third party cheques).
1. Would such a transaction be permissible?
2. Some shopkeepers have resorted to cashing the cheques in the following manner: The customer brings a R5,000 cheque. The shopkeeper sells him a pen for R1,000 and gives him R4,000 cash. So in lieu of the R5000 cheque he gives him R4000 and a pen worth R5. Is this permissible?
3. Can the shopkeeper charge a fixed service charge for each cheque bearing in mind that he has to spend his time and effort to go to the bank and deposit the cheque?
4. Such business is risky due to the possibility of the cheques bouncing and therefore, the shopkeeper normally puts a higher mark up on his goods than the prevailing retail price in the market. For Zakaah purposes, what price will the shopkeeper take; his selling price or the prevailing price in the market?
1. It is not right to make this type of a condition. Shari`ah has prohibited two transactions in one.
2. This is also impermissible.
4. The prevailing market price.
And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.
Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)