Is Silent Acceptance of a Price Valid in Transactions?
Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick
I was buying some items. The cashier said the price was $92 (fake numbers for simplicity). I said okay, good. Then when I gave my $100 and took the items, he counted the change out loud, which came to $2. I thought I misheard him, and the actual price he said was $98 (later, the receipt was confirmed). I didn’t say anything (like, “oh, I thought …”) but was content with the $98 price in my heart, so I didn’t cancel.
This may be a problem since I agreed with what I heard, and he agreed with what he said. Is the sale valid or invalid? If invalid, what should I do now?
If it’s invalid, would it have been rectified if I pointed out (at the time) that I misheard as $92, and we reagreed verbally on $98?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.
May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which is pleasing to Him. Amin.
The sale was valid because there was an offer and an unspoken acceptance of the final price. This sale type is called Bay’ Al-Mu’atat (a mutually agreed-upon unspoken contract) and is valid according to the preferred view of Imam Nawawi and others.
The Shafi’i Requirements of a Valid Sale
The strict ruling regarding sales in the Shafi’i School is that a sale is not valid unless there is a spoken offer (by the seller) and spoken acceptance (by the buyer). Offer means the statement of the seller or his agent (wakil) “I sell it to you” or “I make it yours.” Acceptance means the statement of the buyer or his agent, “I buy it,” “I take possession of it,” or “I accept.” [Keller, Reliance of the Traveller]
Regarding Mu’atat, which is giving the seller the price and taking the merchandise without speaking as when buying something whose cost is well known, Imam Bajuri notes:
“Nawawi and a group of scholars have adopted the position that sales conducted by it (mu‘atat) are valid for all transactions that people consider sales since the determining factor therein is the acceptance of both parties, and there is no decisively authenticated primary text stipulating that it be spoken, so common acknowledgment (‘urf) is the final criterion (A: as to what legally constitutes acceptance)” [Bajuri, Hashiya]
I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan.
Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.
He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.
Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.