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f:767 -    Selling defective goods without revealing defect
Country : Vijaywada, India,
Name : Abdur Rahman
Question:     Those who do business in the market want to sell their goods at any cost.  Sometimes, there is a defect in the goods, but they make all possible efforts to hide it from the buyers.  Is it correct to sell like this?  If someone finds out about the defect later, then can he/she return it?
Answer:     The economic system of Islam not only ensures progress of this world and the hereafter, but also assures protection of the rights.  If the economic rules of Islam are followed, then neither is the seller hurt by the buyer nor the buyer faces any loss of any kind.

Thus, a basic principle of the Shariah is that neither should one bear oppression of any kind nor hurt others.  

….deal not unjustly and ye shall not be dealt with unjustly. Surah Baqarah (2:279)

Neither should you oppress anybody nor should anybody oppress you.  

There is a Hadith in Musnad Imam Ahmed, Vol. 1, Pg No. 515:

Translation:  It is narrated on the authority of Hadhrat 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas (May Allah be well pleased with them) that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: In Islam there is neither bearing loss nor inflicting any loss

To protect from loss and to protect from cheating and deception, the Shariah orders that the seller that while selling anything defective, then the buyer should be made aware of that.  Hiding the defect and selling it is cheating the buyer.  The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) has warned such businessmen:

Translation:  It is narrated on the authority of Hadhrat Wathila (May Allah be well pleased with him): I heard the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) say: Whoever sells any defective thing and does not reveal the defect, that person always lives in the wrath of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) and the angels curse such a person.

(Sunan Ibn Majah, Pg No. 621)

As given in Radd Ul Muhtaar, Vol. 4, Pg No. 671:

Translation:  It is necessary to reveal the defect when selling, as cheating is Forbidden (Haraam).

There is a Hadith in Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1, Pg. No. 07:

Translation:  It is narrated on the authority of Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (May Allah be well pleased with him) that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) went to the heap of grain.  He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) put His hand in the heap and felt some moistness.

He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) asked: O grain seller! What is this?  He said: O Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), because of rain, the grain has become damp.  He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: Then why don’t you keep this in front of all, so that the people see it.  Whoever deals with deception is not mine.

This shows that selling anything without revealing the defect is impermissible.  If any seller sells anything defective without revealing the defect, then the right of the buyer to get a perfect thing without defect has been violated and as such, this will be a loss of the buyer.  So, the Shariah has given the right to the buyer that he/she can return the defective thing and take the money back.

This is when the defect was present at the time of the deal.  On the other hand, if the defect occurred after buying it, then the buyer does not have this right.  

Returning a sold thing because of finding some defect in it is called "Khiyar 'Aib" in the terminology of the Shariah.  

It is given in Fatawa A'alamgiri, Vol. 3, Pg No. 66:

Translation: If someone buys something and was not aware of the defect in it while buying or before it, then regardless of whether the defect is big or small, if the defect is found after selling then the seller has the right to return that defective good and take the money back or exchange it.

It is given on the same page in Fatawa A'alamgiri in the conditions for "Khiyar 'Aib":

Translation: For "Khiyar 'Aib," it is necessary the defect should be proven while selling or before handing over to the buyer.  If a defect is created after selling, then this right does not exist for the buyer.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Syed Ziauddin Naqshbandi Qadri

[Professor, Islamic Law, Jamia Nizamia
Founder-Director Abul Hasanaat Islamic Research Center]

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