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What is the ruling on subscribing in ads browsing sites, and the profits made by that ?

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Darul Iftaa Jordan
What is the ruling on subscribing in ads browsing sites, and the profits made by that ?

Answer:
All perfect praise be to Allah. Blessings and peace be upon Prophet Mohammad: The idea of “ Browsing through ads of surveys” is based on marketing and promoting ads in favor of commercial companies, or completing surveys for research centers and other parties through an advertisement website, or news tape. To make sure that these ads are browsed by as many individuals as possible, the website management pays surfers and subscribers in cash for browsing them, filling the survey and bringing any other member for browsing them. From a juristic view point, the contract concluded between the advertisement agency and the subscribers is that of Jo`alah(payment in return for executing a certain task), where the agency pays a certain wage in return for each advertisement and survey executed by the subscriber, and in return for every other surfer that he brings. In principle, this act is permissible so long as it meets the following conditions: First: The subscription must be free: the subscriber doesn`t pay for being allowed to browse through the ads, fill the survey, and receive a certain product which functions as a cover for paying the subscription. Second: The wage must be specific and known. However, if it wasn`t guaranteed such as being told to take part in the survey and exert every effort possible in filling it, then not guaranteeing the payment of his wage, rather he is to compete for winning a certain prize, then this is Gharar(risk and uncertainty) which renders this transaction forbidden. Third: The subscriber must be warned against offering any payment for increasing the percentage of his commission, or improving the conditions of his membership, whether through cutting down on his commission, or a bank draft. These two conditions are stipulated so as not to fall in the trap of betting and gambling, or Riba(usury) since employing trickery for obtaining more cash against lesser cash is often achieved through adding a certain service, or product that isn`t important to the subscriber. Fourth: The subscriber must avoid browsing through ads, or surveys of forbidden products such as cigarettes, wine and the like. He must also avoid looking at obscene photos and videos. There is no harm in the wage received by the first subscriber in return for the ads and surveys browsed by members that he had directly brought, so that the transaction isn`t mistaken for web marketing whose prohibition was clarified in Fatwa No.(1995). So long as this is blessed by the marketing agency and within conditions of the agreement, then concluding the contract with it is permissible. The Muslim scholars have discussed the issue of deputizing and participating in “Jo`alah”, and they have permitted the subscriber to collect the whole wage if it was within the agreement concluded with the agency. Please refer to “ Tohfat Al-Mohtajj “(6/373). We warn the individuals in charge of such websites that it is forbidden to deceive people that they have a huge number of subscribers while they don`t. And Allah knows best.

This answer was collected from the official government Iftaa Department of Jordan.

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