Injustice to the Customer

A Message to Businessmen

Injustice to the Customer

Mawlana Sayyid Imran Akhtar Attari Madani

The Quran and Hadith inform us that one of the major contributing factors to the current economic crisis, the absence of serenity and blessings in our lives, and the overall downfall of society, is the practice of deliberately weighing and measuring items incorrectly. Businessmen have been involved in this evil for centuries, but unfortunately, the methods of its application have increased and evolved throughout the ages. For Muslims, worldly and religious success is in obeying the commands of Allah and His messenger. The Quran states with regards to measuring accurately:

وَ السَّمَآءَ رَفَعَهَا وَ وَضَعَ الْمِیْزَانَۙ(۷) اَلَّا تَطْغَوْا فِی الْمِیْزَانِ(۸) وَ اَقِیْمُوا الْوَزْنَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَ لَا تُخْسِرُوا الْمِیْزَانَ

“And Allah has raised the sky and set the scale. That you should not transgress in the scale (when you are weighing). And establish the weight with justice, and do not reduce the weight.”[1]

A Hadith states:

“On the Day of Judgement, the one who weighed inaccurately will have a dull face, a stuttering tongue, and blue eyes. A scale of fire will be placed around his neck, and he will be punished for 50,000 years between two mountains, and he will be told, ‘Weigh from here to there.’”[2]

Weighing and measuring correctly are emphasised greatly, such that various prophetic narrations warn us of punishments for those who transgress in these matters. There is a national department established to deal with weighing and measuring, but despite this, the number of people who deceive through false measurements is only increasing. Here are some examples of how it occurs in the marketplace:

1.   The seller verbally establishes a contract where the price is calculated based on metres, but he measures in yards. A yard is 36 inches, whereas a metre consists of 39 inches.

2.   Some vendors use tools shorter than 36 inches to measure yards, and tools shorter than 39 inches to measure metres.

3.   Deceit in weighing items such as bricks and tiles.

4.   Some sellers use low weighted metals [used as counterweights on scales] with trimmed edges, or they carefully shorten them themselves. Some shops and stalls cover the metal with electric tape or a plastic bag. The customer is unaware why the counterweight is concealed, and he is uninformed of whether the metal is the correct weight.

5.   Some salesmen use stones or bricks instead of metal counterweights. The customer does not know if the weight of these is equal to the weight of the metals that are commonly used.

6.   In some cases, the counterweight is the correct weight, but the dishonest seller manipulates the scales. For example, the seller might place an item onto the scale with force and then immediately remove it.

7.   The scales are not set equally, and the scale upon which the product will be weighed is pre-loaded with weight. For example, secretly attaching a magnet to one side of the scales, and this is hidden from the customer by pre-loading the opposite side with the counterweight.

8.   Fabric and elastic are stretched before they are measured. Similarly, instead of accurately measuring electrical wires or water pipes in yards or metres, they are measured at the till with inaccurate devices.

9.   When measuring a single metre and yard with non-standard and illegal measuring tapes and tools, the deficiency appears small. However, when the deficit in width is considered too, the full extent of the inaccuracies can be observed.

10.   Tampering with measuring scales for milk, cooking oil, kerosene, bleach, petrol, etc. by using measuring containers with a raised base, or the internal area is made smaller than it was originally.

11.   Changing the settings of electric scales, giving the impression that the weighed product weighs more than it actually does. At times, the scales are placed in a way that the customer cannot see it as it is being weighed. (Placing the scales in such a position does not necessarily indicate that the seller is deceiving. Therefore, he is not considered a thief as more evidence is required to prove this.)

These were some scenarios in which inaccurate measurements were made through the use of measuring tools. However, another method of deceiving customers is by contaminating and mixing products. The customer will receive less than what he asked for, but the shortage will be recovered by diluting the product. For example, a customer orders sacks of rice weighing 15kg. The merchant will reduce the amount of rice by a couple of kilograms and replace that amount with stones. 

This practice is common when buying or selling in large quantities. When these products are sold by smaller shops and businesses, every customer has to bear the negative impact of the loss. Such businessmen may deem themselves smart and ahead of the curve, but they are suppressing the rights of many people, for which they will be held accountable on the Day of Judgement. Here are some examples of how products are diluted:

1.   Low quality oil is added to ghee.

2.   Weighing lentils, rice, and other grains by mixing them with stones.

3.   Mixing papaya seeds with black pepper.

4.   Adding water, arrowroot, or harmful chemicals to milk.

5.   Weighing water with meat and vegetables, then selling the water at the rate of meat and vegetables.

6.   Mixing red clay with chillies.

7.   Mixing wood shavings with ground coriander.

8.   Reducing the amount of cement in brickwork and concealing the shortage from the customer by adding colouring.

9.   Contaminating lifesaving drugs.

Nowadays, products are separated and sold based on their quality. Some people knowingly purchase low quality products, and then sell them at their own store for a premium price as higher quality products! May Allah grant us the ability to act upon all the rulings of Islam, and may He save us from the injustice of others, and from being unjust to others.  

اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ خاتَمِ النَّبِیّیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم

[1] Al-Quran, 55:7-9, Translation from Kanz al-Īmān

[2] Qurrat al-Uyūn, p. 391




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