Ambiguity in business transactions

Q: My wife bought a painting from someone which was still to be painted. She was just told that the painting would look like this and that but she didn’t see it. She also didn’t know what would be the size of the painted frame. When she asked what was the price of it she was told ”don’t worry. You don’t need to pay me.” After a few days my wife asked the lady if she had started with the painting. She said ”no”. So my wife told her that she no longer wants the painting.

Two weeks later the lady brings the painting. The lady tells her its costs ‘this amount’. My wife pays her as she didn’t want to cause problems.Besides not liking the painting it was also too expensive. It was as if she was forced to pay for it now.

1. What is the condition of this transaction?

2. If the transaction is not correct what is the way out?

3. If there is a need of a new transaction but due to fear of problems (as the lady is also a Muslim), can the frame be given in sadaqah and make the intention of sadaqah for the amount that was paid to the lady as well?


A: It was not binding upon your wife to accept the painting since she had cancelled the previous transaction. However, when the woman brought the painting and your wife accepted it and paid for it, a new transaction took place between the both through mutual agreement. Dealing in this way where the price of the commodity is not known is not correct in Shari’ah as this leads to quarrels and disputes coming about.

And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.


Answered by:

Mufti Zakaria Makada

Checked & Approved:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)