Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
My question is about buying and selling goods or services online: In particular, EBay is a very popular website for conducting online auctions. My question is, is it permitted to buy/sell in an online auction when you haven’t actually “seen” the item? You only have a description of it.
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
Online sales and auctions are valid when the product being sold and the transaction have been reasonably defined.
It is not a criterion for the validity of a sale that the item be seenit is sufficient for it to be described such that it is reasonably defined and gross uncertainty about its nature lifted.
It is stated in al-Majalla that,
Section I: Conditions affecting the subject matter of the sale and description
197. The thing sold must be in existence.
198. The thing sold must be capable of delivery.
199. The thing sold must be property of some specific value.
200. The thing sold must be known to the purchaser.
201. The fact that the thing sold is known is ascertained by referring to its state and description which distinguish it from other things.
And Allah alone gives success.