Saturday, February 22, 2014

Q&A: Selling flour for bread? | Sheikh 'Ata Abu Al-Rashtah

[Translated]

Question:

Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh,
Our beloved Shaykh, may Allah (swt) help you in your cause and guide you to that which pleases Him.

Another question:

Some people give the baker at the main bakery a bag of flour and in return take a specific amount of bread daily for a month; is this permissible? Does this matter enter into the context of hiring or selling, although none of the two parties proclaim any of this?

Please be quick in responding if that is possible. May Allah swt support you, give you success and grant you victory and succession, and may He (swt) unite us with you in the Dar of Islam, Wassalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh.

Answer: 

This issue, my brother, is not a new one, the Jurists (Fuqahaa') have discussed it in their early ages, and have thus differed in its matter as they have differed in their answers to this question:

If the usurious (ribawi) materials changed through the manufacturing process, such as grain being fried, or grain that turns into flour, dough or baking... and so on, would it be considered the same type which means that the term "wheat" is applied to all of it, and therefore it cannot be sold unless it is conducted hand to hand and equal in amount? Or will it become a different type? And is the different type usurious, thus it is allowed to sell it unequally but hand to hand? Or is the different type not usurious hence can be sold by credit (as a debt)? The following shows the different opinions on the matter:

1. Those who considered it as (all being) the same type had one problem, which is that likeness cannot be drawn between them. How can wheat be weighed or measured against bread, or flour weighed against dough, or with transaction ... etc.therefore they concluded that it is not permissible to sell wheat with bread or flour because of the impossibility of drawing similarities.

2. Others said they are of different types, but they are usurious, i.e. wheat is a usurious item, flour is a usurious item, bread is a usurious item... they therefore concluded that since they are not of the same type, then it is allowed to sell it, i.e. it is allowed to sell wheat with flour or bread, however you like, as long as it is done hand to hand.

3. Another group who said that they are different classifications, and the changeable classification of the wheat is not considered usurious, but something else, therefore, bread, or dough, or ........, are not usurious items, and therefore, it is permissible to sell wheat with bread and flour however you like and by credit too, because they are not considered usurious items, i.e. wheat is sold with a different item that is not usurious...
  • Accordingly, the opinions of the Mujtahideen (fiqhi scholars) differed on this matter... and I will present to you the valid opinions of some of the Fuqahaa':
a) The opinion of Shafi'i in the impermissibility of selling:

It was mentioned in the Al-Majmoo' for Nawawi Al-Shafi'I (deceased 676 AH): "it is not permissible to sell flour through baking it because he has entered it into the fire and mixed it with salt and water which prevents likeness to occur, and because the bread is weighed and the wheat is measured, it would not be possible to know the equality between them".

b) Abu Hanifa's opinion in the impermissibility of selling:

It was mentioned in Al-Binaya Sharh al-Hidayah for Badru-Din Al-‘Ayni Al-Hanafi (deceased: 855 AH)... "it was mentioned by Abu Hanifa that there is no good in it i.e. in the selling of bread with wheat and flour, which means that it is impermissible".

c) The opinion of the friends of Abu Hanifa (Abu Yousuf and Mohammad) of the permissibility of selling unequally (in measurement and weigh) hand to hand:

It was mentioned in Al-Binaya Sharh Al-Hidaya: "It is permissible to sell bread with wheat and flour unequally as long as it is done hand to hand", and he added: "selling bread with bread unequally (in amount and/or weigh) is permissible according to Abu Yousuf and Mohammad may Allah swt have mercy on them, (done) hand to hand".

It was also mentioned in Al-Binaya Sharh Al-Hidaya "the Fatwa regarding the first" i.e. "on the permissibility of selling bread with wheat and flour".

d) The opinion of Abu Yousuf in the permissibility of selling with credit, i.e. with debt:

It was mentioned in Al-binaya Sharh Al-Hidaya: "if the wheat was a debt then it is also permissible, and if the bread was by debt then it is permissible according to Abu Yousuf, and the Fatwa is passed accordingly".
In any case, you can follow in this matter whichever Mujtahid whose Ijtihad reassures you, and may Allah be with you.

Your brother,
Ata Bin Khalil Abu Al-Rashtah

The link to the answer from the Ameer‟s Facebook page.

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