Sale in the language of the Muslim Law signifies an exchange of property with the mutual consent of the parties. In its ordinary acceptance, sale is a transfer of property in consideration of a price in money. The word has a comprehensive meaning in the law, and is applied to every exchange of property for property with mutual consent. It, therefore, includes barter as well as sale and also loan, when the articles lent are intended to be consumed and replaced to the lender by a similar quantity of the same kind. This transaction which is truly an exchange of property for property is termed as qard in the law, i.e. loan.
According to the Muslim Laws of contracted transaction of sale and barter, etc., things are divided into: [a] Similars; and [b] Dissimilars.
Similar things are those which are sold by weighing and measuring; and dissimilar things which are different in quality but sold in exchange, such as wheat for its price in coin. In the case of similar things as wheat for rice, when sold after being measured or weighed delivery should take place at once. When these are sold unconditionally, the buyer has no right to choose the best part of it from the whole, unless the seller consents and desires to please him. Things sold or exchanged cannot remain undelivered or unadjusted on the mere responsibility of the parties. But if a thing is sold against its value in money, time is allowed in receiving money. Among similar things, there are similars of capacity weight and sale. The seller must express clearly the quantity and quality of the thing exactly as it is, so that any doubt or misunderstanding may not arise in regard to it later on. He must fix the price and say that he is willing to sell to so and so such a thing of so much value and on such terms and conditions [if there be any]; the buyer must accept the offer in clear language. If the seller himself cannot do this, he must appoint an agent, with sufficient authority to dispose of his goods. If a contract takes place through a broker, it must be ratified by the actual buyer. Option is allowed to the buyer and seller for three days [in case a thing is not removed from the seller’s premises] to avoid the transaction. If a thing is purchased without inspection or examination and afterwards a difference is found in the quantity or the quality specified by the seller, or asked for by the purchaser the latter may refuse to take delivery of it. Of the various kinds of recognized kinds of sale, the following are the most important:
1) Sale of a specific thing for a price or by way of barter.
2) Sale of silver for silver or gold for gold or banking in which the exchange of coins, either silver or gold, must be exact in weight or quality, so that there may be no chance of resorting to usury.
3) Sale in advance when the price is deposited before taking delivery of goods.
4) Loan, etc.
The quality of the thing, when lent, is specified and the thing to be given back should be of the same quality.
One can mortgage his property, but here also usury is avoided. The scholars have permitted only such bargains in which a lender of money can be benefited without transgressing the law, e.g. by the use of a thing or property which has been mortgaged; or make a condition precedent that if, with a specified time, the money is not repaid, delivery of possession of the property mortgaged will be given to the lender, etc. Riba or usury is strictly prohibited under Islamic Law. It means taking advantage of an individual in distress by giving him momentary relief, with the intention of bringing more misery upon him. One is forced to ask for a loan on the condition that it would be repaid, as agreed, to the lender; often much more has to be paid to the lender than he has actually paid. In some cases it may be deemed harmless, but often it brings ruin to whole families, of which the lender is conscious. Such exaction is against the spirit of Islam. The lender may intentionally lend money to possess the property of one who may, owing to hard circumstances, be forced to seek his help.
Each individual has the right to possess what is his own property and to enjoy what is his own wealth, but only to the extent that by that he does not injure others’ happiness or interests. He may amass wealth, but the surplus wealth, of which he is not in need of immediate use, must be used for helping those who are badly in need thereof.
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