Taking possession of an item before selling it

Q: I want to sell items (mostly food) via social media. e.g. tubs of biscuits, sweetmeats, pastries etc. I do not make these items nor keep any on hand i.e. made to order. The items will be procured from multiple home vendors. I will advertise these items via social media and interested parties will contact me to order and pay me for the items. I will then order the items for the buyer and the buyer will collect from me or from known pickup points in different areas. I will be paid before I have the items in my possession and I will pay the baker once I collect/receive the items.

Will I need to get the order, buy/pay and have the item in hand before I accept funds from the buyer? Will this type of model be permissible? If not, what will I need to adjust in my model for it to be permissible?

A: You should inform the customer that the sale will only be valid at the time when you deliver the item to him as the item will still have to be purchased by you.

In the case where you will not be delivering the item to the customer, but rather you will be asking him to pick it up from a pick up point, then in this case it is necessary for you to first take possession of the item from the seller before you sell it to the customer. The reason is that the Hadith has prohibited the purchaser from selling an item before he takes possession of it.

If it is difficult for you to take possession of the item from the seller, then you may ask someone to receive it on your behalf from the seller. Thereafter, you may tell the customer to collect it from that person.

And Allah Ta'ala (الله تعالى) knows best.


Answered by:

Mufti Zakaria Makada

Checked & Approved:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)