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The Fiqh of eBay: Summarised

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[17:35] And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with a straight balance. That is fair, and better at the end.


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The Fiqh of eBay: Summarised

Shaykh (Mufti) A.H. Elias (HA)

Shaykh (Mufti) A.H. Elias (HA) is a well known International Scholar from South Africa and provided answers to the following common trading scenarios on ebay to our site which are highlighted below each question.

1 Are there are any Islamic reservations on generally buying and selling on ebay where a person is willing to buy without physically looking at or inspecting the goods?

It is permissible to buy without physically seeing (the item).

2 The general procedure on ebay is to place the items on sale and the buyers bid on the item but "Shill Bidding" is where the seller has two ebay ID's and they use the second ID to drive the price up for their own item. This is against ebay rules and its done to obviously drive the price of the item up (thus maximizing profits) but also to ensure that a fair price is obtained e.g. if someone is selling a laptop and the cost is $250 and the highest bid is $248 the seller may do "Shill Bidding" and place a self bid of $252 to ensure that at least their costs are covered and no loss is incurred. Is this permissible? "Shill Bidding" is also done via friends e.g. I place an item on sale and ask a friend to bid (who has no intention of buying). In addition "Shill Bidding" carries the risk that you (or your freind) may become the highest bidder on your item and end up buying and thus costing listing fees etc for nothing!

This type of bidding is not permissible.

3 Is it permissible to buy an item on ebay and immediately place it back to sale while the item is in shipment (transit) and the buyer is not in physical possession of the item? The idea here is to do a fast turn around so as soon the item is received it can be shipped to the new buyer?  

Permissible.

4 The general procedure on ebay is to place the items on sale and the buyers bid on the item but "Snipping" is a Service where a buyer identifies an item and the maximum they are willing to pay and a web-site places the bid 2-5 seconds before the item ends! The idea is that others won't drive their bids up and the seller can buy at a relatively cheaper price. This is legal on ebay and there are many tools available for snipping and widely accessible.

Not permissible because it tantanmounts to deception, cheating, un-savoury wheeling and dealing.

5 I sold an item on ebay and the buyer made a mistake and bought it in error. Although it was buyer error I offered to do a full refund as long as the buyer returns the item and the whole dispute was being tracked by ebay. The item got lost in shipment and buyer was unable to provide evidence of shipment except for his word and ebay ruled in my favor and I wasn't required to issue a refund. I never got the item back anyways, was it Islamically acceptable for me to deny the buyer a refund in this case?

Advice: Give him the money back and you will be rewarded greatly even if the returned goods do not reach you. Ruling: If the goods reach you-give him the money back and you will be rewarded.