Choice to invalidate the sale contract conducted via Internet

  • Author: Fatwa no. 91032
  • Publish date:11/11/2009
  • Sections:FATWA FOR ALL
  • Rate:
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Question:

I am buying online on "eBay", and after I agreed with the seller on the price of a merchandize I faced some problem with delivery.  Then I checked the price with another seller I found it cheaper by $30. In this case can I leave the first seller or I have to stick with him?  I mean is it considered as a bounding contract with which I have to fulfil same as in face to face contract in selling and buying?
 
Fatwa:
 
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  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) is His Slave and Messenger.
 
If the sale took place through the internet and there was an agreement and consent between you and the seller, and the sale contract was valid, then you are obliged to abide by the terms of this sale and you are not permitted to invalidate it unless you conditioned to choose either to accept or refuse, or that the seller refused to sell you the product. The Fiqh Islamic Committee in its sixth conference held in Jeddah, K.S.A. issued the following report: 'If the contract takes place between two absent people who are in different places, and no one can see the other personally and does not hear his voice, and the means of communication between them was in writing, or letter or an intermediary [messenger]; this applies to telephone, telex, fax and computer screens, then in such a case the contract is concluded when the consent and agreement of the other party arrives to the sender.'
 
If the contract takes place while both parties can hear each other, like through the messenger [internet] then it appears that the contract becomes bondable when the conversation finishes.
 
Therefore, if you had concluded the contract with the seller with the above means, then you are obliged to abide by the terms of the contract and you are not permitted to invalidate it unless you conditioned in the contract having the choice to invalidate it. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: "The buyer and seller have the choice to invalidate their contract as long as they do not depart from each other." [this departure differs from one situation to another, and from one circumstance to another, for instance if one is in person with the seller, his departure is when he leaves the place of the contract, and if one is concluding the contract through the phone, his departure is when he puts the phone down, and so forth…]
 
Finally, it should be noted that if the sale is concluded through the internet, while seeing the product or having its description to an extent that there is no deceit or cheating, then the contract is valid. However, if the contract is done without seeing the product or having it described then the scholars, may Allah have mercy on them, differed in relation to its permissibility. The Shaafi'ee and Hanbali schools are of the view that it is not valid, because Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) forbade the sale in which there is deceit or cheating." Meanwhile, the Hanafi school are of the view that it is permissible while confirming that the buyer has the choice to see the product. However, the Maaliki school, is of the opinion that it is permissible on the condition that the buyer conditions having the choice. It appears, Allah Knows best, that the first opinion is the closest to the evidence, i.e. that it is not valid, as is the opinion of the Shafi'ee school.
 
Allah Knows best.
 
Fatwa answered by: The Fatwa Center at Islamweb

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