Selling the file for a plot of land

Islamic Rulings on Trade

Mufti Abu Muammad Ali Asghar Attari Madani

1. Selling the file for a plot of land

Q: What do the noble scholars say about the following matter: Is it permissible to sell the file for a plot of land?

اَلْجَوَابُ بِعَوْنِ الْمَلِکِ الْوَھَّابِ اَللّٰھُمَّ ھِدَایَۃَ الْحَقِّ وَالصَّوَابِ

A: Files of plots of land are sold in a number of ways. Their details and the ruling concerning them are mentioned below.

1. The location of the plot is known: The plot is allocated a number on the plan and has a designated street number, phase or colony, sector, among other identifiers. These designations are not restricted to the plan but exist in reality, i.e., you can stand on the plot and take a look; you can stand there and ascertain that you are buying the plot.

However, sometimes the plot exists and its location is marked on the plan, but since the development work is incomplete, the plots are not tangibly demarcated from the street. Islamically, there is no problem in this.

When the situation is clear in this manner, it is permissible to buy and sell such a plot, even though people customarily term this the buying and selling of a file, because this scenario is in reality the selling and buying of a plot. Here, the purpose is not to merely buy and sell a file but to sell the plot. In contracts, consideration is given to meanings and intended purposes. It is not just outward wordings and forms that are intended. For this reason, the sale and purchase of such a plot is permissible.

Radd al-Mutār reiterates:

          العبرة في العقود للمعاني دون الالفاظ      

“In contracts, consideration is given to meanings, not wordings.”[1]

It should remain clear that the stipulation of the plot being specified has been explained because it is necessary that the holding, i.e., the item being bought and sold, is known. If a plot is being bought or sold, it is also necessary that the area number of the plot and its sector or location are known. Ambiguity in such a situation can cause deception, and trade involving deception has been prohibited.

It is mentioned in aī Muslim: نھی رسول اللہ صلی اللہ تعالی علیہ وسلم عن بیع الحصاۃ وعن بیع الغرر “The Messenger of Allāh صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم prohibited the transaction of stones (throwing stones to select an item was widespread in the period of ignorance), and the transaction of deception.”[2]

It is mentioned in Bahār-i-Sharīat:

“The trade item and its price should be known in such a way that dispute cannot arise. If they are unspecified such that dispute can arise, the transaction will not be valid.”[3]

2. The plot does not exist beyond the file: Purchasing such a file is not permitted because the file is just a collection of papers of negligible value which no reasonable person would buy for large sums of money.

Paperwork or a file is in reality a proof of ownership. However, if in reality there is no plot, this is clear deception because you have sold a file without any plot behind it. At that time, you do not mention that there is no actual plot behind the file, rather this deception is all played out under the façade of selling a plot. It is on this basis that news constantly circulates that people invested in land in a housing society, but even after a long time, they are not given possession of a physical plot.  Therefore, it is not permitted to buy such a file which has no plot behind it. Such a transaction is invalid, i.e. it is not ratified from its very start.

The beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said:

لا يحل بيع ما ليس عندك

“The sale of that which you do not possess is impermissible.”[4]

Bahār-e-Sharīʿat states, “The sale of that which is non-existent is invalid.”[5]

The sale of a mere file is impermissible, as explained by Imām Amad Razā Khān رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه:

The ticket that is sold to him, which he sells on to others, is not ˹deemed˺ wealth at all. Therefore, the essential element of transactions, which is the exchange of wealth for wealth, is not realised in this case.[6]

Moreover, he adds:

The true intent of the parties involved in the sale and purchase of the ticket reveals that their dealing does not constitute a ˹valid˺ transaction in Islamic law. Rather, it is a way to trap people in the net of greed and ensnare them with an imaginary hope—and this is gambling in every sense.

Selling a ticket is mentioned, but such a statement is printed on it which explicitly informs that it is not a trade item, rather it is a receipt by which the possessor of one rupee, after the stipulated conditions, can take thirty rupees of merchandise from a trader. If it was the ticket that was being sold, ˹we must ask˺, were the buyers so inane that they gave their money to purchase a small, worthless piece of paper that no one would want? No doubt, the rules of valid transactions have been cast aside. Such dealings make people vulnerable to deception, ˹unnecessary˺ risk, damage, and harm to others, all of which are prohibited in authentic hadith.

This affair is of a worse degree than chitti, because in that each person subjects himself, individually, to gambling and sin, whereas here, every initial person will entrap another five people for his own benefit. In that, there is limited risk, but here, there is unlimited risk, harm, harming others, and deception.[7]

وَاللہُ اَعْلَمُ عَزَّوَجَلَّ وَ رَسُوْلُہٗ اَعْلَم  صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم

2. The ruling of additional material in a ream of cloth

Q: What do the noble scholars say concerning the following matter: It is written on a ream of cloth that it is 20 metres in length or 50 metres in length and we pay for it according to that length. However, when we measure it, the cloth ream has an extra metre or so of cloth. What is the ruling concerning this?

اَلْجَوَابُ بِعَوْنِ الْمَلِکِ الْوَھَّابِ اَللّٰھُمَّ ھِدَایَۃَ الْحَقِّ وَالصَّوَابِ

A: Generally, it happens that when a cloth merchant cuts a metre or two metres of cloth, it diminishes in size a little. For this reason buyers demand that some additional cloth is included. For this reason the factory owners include some additional cloth and package it. If the scenario is such that they customarily include extra cloth, then according to custom the extra cloth is permissible for you.

وَاللہُ اَعْلَمُ عَزَّوَجَلَّ وَ رَسُوْلُہٗ اَعْلَم صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم

[1] Radd al-Mutār, vol. 3, p. 17

[2] aī Muslim, p. 625, hadith 3,808

[3] Bahār-e-Sharīat, vol. 2, p. 617

[4] Sunan Ibn Mājah, vol. 3, p. 31, hadith 2,188

[5] Bahār-e-Sharīat, vol. 2, p. 697

[6] Fatāwā Razawiyyah, vol. 17, p. 167

[7] Fatāwā Razawiyyah, vol. 17, pp. 330,331




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