Question:

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

It is known that Gold is from those items in which the transaction has to be made hand in hand and there cannot be a delay in receiving the money for the seller or the gold for the buyer, which would mean it is impermissible to purchase gold online. My question is, is the prohibition limited to pure gold (24 karat) or does this include gold mixed with other metals/diamonds/pearls, etc. and does silver also come under this? So if there is a necklace which is gold and has rhinestone in it, would this be included in the prohibition? جزاكم الله خيرًا

Answer:

وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته

As per Islamic law, if someone is buying/selling any of the following six items, then the exchange must be done hand to hand in the same sitting:

  • gold
  • silver
  • wheat
  • barley
  • dates
  • salt for money

The act of exchanging from hand to hand is called (التقابض). The proof for this is the hadith

of Ubaadah bin as-Saamit (Allah be pleased with him) that the Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “Gold is to be paid for by gold, silver by silver, wheat by wheat, barley by barley, dates by dates, and salt by salt, like for like and equal for equal, payment being made hand to hand. If these classes differ, then sell as you wish if payment is made hand to hand” [Muslim (no. 1587)]

Based on this hadith, the scholars say that buying either gold or silver online for money requires that the exchange occur hand to hand (immediately) and without delay on either side. This applies to buying gold online and likewise silver online because they are both from the categories of the items of Ribaa found in the hadith.

In terms of buying gold mixed with other metals or jewels, then this has been discussed by the scholars. If the piece of jewelry has a small amount of gold or silver, then it is pardoned and overlooked. Thus, such an item can be bought online.

Shaikh Sa’d al-Kathlaan (may Allah preserve him), a Saudi Shaikh who specializes in fiqh and finances, was asked about buying jewelry that has gold and other than gold in it online.

The Shaikh responded: “If there is gold in it and it is bought using currency, then it must be sold hand to hand.

The host: ‘So the ruling does not differ?’

Shaikh: ‘Yes. Unless the amount of gold is small. If the amount of gold is small, then this is pardoned. A small amount of gold that is found in a watch for example. A watch that has a small amount of gold or silver, then its affair is easier (i.e. it is allowed)'”. End. [Reference]

This exception mentioned by the Shaikh has also been mentioned by earlier scholars such as Imam Ibn Qudamah (d. 620 H.), may Allah have mercy upon him, in his book al-Mughni (4/30).

However, if the piece of jewelry being purchased online has a lot of gold or silver and other metals, then it takes the original ruling of needing to be exchanged hand to hand. And so, it cannot be bought online but should be bought in person.

And Allah knows best

Faisal bin Abdul Qaadir bin Hassan
Abu Sulaymaan