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Selling, Renting out and Being Employed in Situations Involving Harām

Earning money and being part of business or loan transactions is an act which most of us are involved in daily or will be at some point in our lives. It is therefore fundamental that we strive to gain the necessary knowledge regarding those transactions that could potentially result in disobeying Allah (swt).

In this edition of the ‘Ahkam Corner’, we aim to cover some of the Islamic rulings related to selling, renting out and being employed in circumstances which involve harām. Practical examples will be mentioned for each case for ease of understanding and the rulings of 3 major scholars (marāji’) will be looked at. It is worthy to note that the focus is solely on whether one commits a sin by involving himself/herself in various situations mentioned below, whilst the validity or invalidity of such a transaction is not taken into consideration.

Selling something which could be used for harām purposes

Selling an item that was made solely for harām purposes, such as adult movies, etc… is a harām act according to all scholars. Similarly, selling an item which can be used for halal as well as harām purposes, such as headphones, a razor or immodest cloths:

  • If the seller has certainty that the buyer will use is it for harām, then according to:
    • Ayatollah Sistani and Ayatollah Khamenei: It is allowed [1], as long as the buyer doesn’t make ‘harām usage’ a condition for the transaction [2, 3].
    • Ayatollah Makarim Shirazi: It is harām, and such a transaction is a sin [4].
  • If the seller is not sure for what purpose the item will be used, i.e. doubts whether the buyer will use it for halal or for harām:
    • According to all scholars: such a transaction is allowed [5].

 

Renting out something which could be used for harām purposes

  • Renting out an item that was made specifically for harām purposes, such as adult movies, etc.. is a harām act according to all scholars.
  • Renting out an item or a property, such as renting out a shop or a dining hall to an individual, which could be used for halal or for harām purposes:
    • If the owner has certainty that the renter will use it for harām purposes, then:
      • Ayatollah Sistani: It is allowed (except in cases where alcohol is involved), as long as the owner doesn’t make ‘harām usage’ a condition for the transaction [6].
      • Ayatollah Khamenei: If it is considered as helping someone commit a harām act, it is harām and a sin [7].
      • Ayatollah Makarim: It is harām, and counts as a sin [8].
    • If the owner is not sure how the item or property will be used, i.e. doubts whether the renter will use it for halal or for harām:
      • According to all scholars: this transaction is allowed.

Being employed in situations involving harām

Being employed or paid to do a certain act can take place in various scenarios:

  • Being employed or paid to perform a harām act, for example being paid to take interest for a bank, being employed to test various alcoholic drinks or being employed to completely shave someone’s beard is harām, according to all scholars [9].
  • Being employed or paid to perform a permissible act, the consequence of which will certainly and directly result in harām, for example being paid to drive someone to a nightclub, or being paid to cut a woman’s hair whilst knowing she will display her beauty in public, or being employed at the till in a shop that sells adult movies:
    • Ayatollah Sistani: It is allowed [10].
    • Ayatollah Khamenei: If it is considered as helping someone commit a harām act, it is harām and a sin [11].
    • Ayatollah Makarim: It is harām, and counts as a sin [12].
  • Being employed or paid to perform a permissible act, the consequence of which will not directly lead to a harām act, or could lead to a harām act, for example being employed as a cleaner in a bank that is involved in taking interest, or being paid to repair a car that may take clients to a nightclub, or being employed to arrange books in a bookshop that sells misguiding books, then:
    • According to all scholars: It is allowed, except in cases where alcohol is involved [13].

Important note:

In all cases, the religion of the buyer or the renter has no implications to the various rulings, and therefore, even if for the buyer or renter, the usage of the item is not considered harām, which is the case for non-believers, for the seller or the owner, the transaction will be considered as harām [14].

Conclusion

In this article, the rulings of the 3 major scholars in relation to haram transactions during selling, renting out and being employed was discussed. We pray that we are all blessed with the knowledge of that which is halal and that which is harām, and with a strong will to act according to our knowledge.

References and Footnotes

  1. Ayatollah Sistani considers this transaction allowed in all cases except when the item will be used to promote or act as a symbol for other religions. Thus, selling wood to someone who is buying it for the purpose of making Christian cross is not
  2. In other words, he doesn’t stipulate: “I will sell you this item if you use it for haram purposes”
  3. Minhaaj al Saleheen (Ayatollah Sistani), Kitaab al Tijarat, rule 17 (Volume 2, page 10). Also, Ayatollah Sistani, Tawzih al-Masail, rule
  4. Ayatollah Makarim Shirazi, Tawzih al-Masail, rule 1762. Also, Tawzih al-Masail Muhasha from Imam Khomeini, volume 2, page 209. Also, Anwar al Fiqahat (al-Makaasib al-Muharama) of Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi, page 107
  5. Ayatollah Sistani, Tawzih al-Masail , Rule 2076
  6. Minhaaj al Saleheen (Ayatollah Sistani), Kitaab al Tijarat, rule 17 (Volume 2, page 10). Also, Ayatollah Sistani, Tawzih al-Masail, rule 2197
  7. Spoken answer received from Ustad Ibrahimi, head of the Ahkam department of Markaz-e-Pasukhguyi, who has written answers from the marāji’’s office (10th May 2016).
  8. Anwar al Fiqahat (al-Makaasib al-Muharama) of Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi, page 124
  9. Ayatollah Sistani, Tawzih al-Masail, rule 2089
  10. Minhaaj al Saleheen (Ayatollah Sistani), Kitaab al Tijarat, rule 17 (Volume 2, page 10)
  11. Ayatollah Khameini, Ajwabah al istiftaat, question 1422 and question 1089
  12. Anwar al Fiqahat (al-Makaasib al-Muharama) of Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi, page 124
  13. Spoken answer received from Ustad Ibrahimi, head of the Ahkam department of Markaz-e-Pasukhguyi, who has written answers from the marāji’’s office (10th May 2016).
  14. Also see Ayatollah Khameini, Ajwabah al istiftaat, question 1090

This written was compiled by Miqdad R. A 4th year seminary student, Madrasah Imam Khomeini of Qom, Iran.

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