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Stats: 17,647 members, 70,873 Topics, 15,582 Comments. Date: Jul 19 2019, 9:32 pm

Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.

Dear Shaikh, Can a person buy goods from
the seller simply over the phone and sell it
immediately in the same way (over the
phone), without actually possessing it ? For
example, can a person buy a container of
potatoes over the phone that's on its way in
a ship on the sea (not in his possession) and
also sell it to someone over the phone
without actually possessing it ? Please advice.
Jazaak Allahu Khairan.

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the
Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of
worship except Allah, and that Muhammad
is His slave and Messenger.
It is not permissible for a person to sell
something unless the seller owns it and
possesses it as the Prophet said: " Do
not sell what you do not possess." [Ahmad]
Moreover, Zayd Ibn Thabit may Allah be
pleased with him, said: " The Prophet
forbade selling goods in the place where they
were bought until the tradesmen take them
to their houses [unless the goods are actually
possessed by them] ." [Ahmad] Some scholars
differentiated between selling food
and other tradable items. The goods that you
mentioned in the question (potatoes) are
food, and the majority of the scholars
are of the view that it is not permissible to
sell food before possessing it, whether or
not this food is one of the types to which
Riba (interest and usury) applies. Al-'Adawi
from the Maliki School of
jurisprudence said: 'Whoever buys or sells
food whether or not it is one of the types to
which Riba applies, he is not permitted to
sell it before possessing it.'
A question is to be asked here: What is the
possession, which if fulfilled, renders the
sale permissible?

The possession of anything depends on the
nature of that thing. Al-Hajjawi from
the Hanbali School of jurisprudence said:
'Possessing [in a sale transaction] something
that is irremovable, like land, trees and the
like is by leaving it for the buyer by allowing
him to make use of it and handing him the
keys, and by removing the household items
of the seller from it, according to the
prevailing customs, and possessing
something that is removable like a boat, an
animal and the like, is by taking it after
unloading the goods from the boat according
to the prevailing customs, as regards clothes
and similar items that could be possessed by
handling it, it is enough to possess it by

Therefore, it is known that removing the
goods from the stores of the seller or from
his place to the boat if the person who
receives the goods is the agent of the buyer
then this is considered as possessing the
goods. In this case it is permissible for the
buyer to sell these goods while they are in
the sea but they remain on his liability until
the second buyer or his agent actually
possesses them.

However, if the first buyer does not have an
agent who receives the goods on his behalf,
then it is not permissible for him to sell
while they are in the sea because the buyer
and seller are not in the boat and neither of
them has an agent who will do the handling
and possessing of goods.

If the possession of goods is done, whether
the real possession in which hand to hand
trading is conducted by the buyer or his
agent, or the sale which has the ruling of
possessing the goods like leaving the estate
for the buyer, then in this case it is
permissible to buy and sell through the
phone or other means of modern

Allah Knows best.


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