How Does the Session (Majlis) of a Sale Change?

Answered by Ustadh Sufyan Qufi


I am Hanafi and a student of fiqh. We studied “khiyar majlis” (the option to cancel during a session) in sales. How does a session (majlis) change? In Hanafi fiqh, the session (majlis) changes by changing the topic of discussion or by eating two bites. Many rulings, like the prostrations of recitation, are related to it.


In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

I pray this finds you in the best of states.

A session (majlis) when it comes to sales, changes when something indicating a loss of interest in the sale at hand happens. Regarding the prostrations of recitation, the primary way to nullify the current session is a change in location. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

Definition of a Session (Majlis)

The session of a sale (majlis) is defined as the place in which the meeting between two parties is realized physically (such as a man entering a shop to buy an item from the owner) or effectively (such as a man asking for a sale through a letter or an email, in which case the majlis starts at the time when the recipient reads the content). [Attassi, Sharh al-Majalla]

Change of a Session (Majlis)

How a “sitting” (majlis) changes when it comes to sales is different from how it changes when it comes to the prostrations of recitation. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Shurunbulali, Nur al-Idah]

As we will see below, the option to cancel within the session of a sale (“Khiyar al-Majlis”) is an idea foreign to the Hanafi school. In the Hanafi school, the option to accept or refuse a proposal (“Khiyar al-Qabul”) is what is available after the first proposal to sell. As for “Khiyar al-Majlis”, it is a Shafi‘i concept. [Marghinani, Hidaya]

When it comes to sales, the important question to ask yourself is not “How does the session of the sale (majlis) change?” but the real question is: “When is the proposition to sell or buy an item binding, and when is it not?”

For example, someone is looking to buy a car and tells the owner of the car physically in front of him: “I am buying this car for 10,000.” The owner accepts this sale and says to the buyer: “I accept to sell this car to you for this price.” After the seller says these words, the buyer says to the seller: “I have changed my mind; I don’t want to buy this car anymore.”

The question is: “When can the owner of the car take to court the seller to force him to buy the car and see the judge force the buyer to finalize the car purchase despite him changing his mind?”

Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) explains that if anything happens during the session of sale (majlis) that would indicate a loss of interest in the sale, after the initial proposal to buy, will nullify the majlis and thus will render the initial proposal to buy not binding anymore. In this situation, if the buyer who changed his mind, is taken to court, the judge will force him to finalize the purchase. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

A session (majlis) can, of course, be voided by the physical separation of the buyer and the seller before the first proposal to buy has been accepted by the second party. The proposal to buy is not binding anymore on the first party.

But a session (majlis) can also be voided even before there is any physical separation between the two parties. If, after the first proposal, one of the two parties starts to talk about a subject completely unrelated to the sale, or one of the two parties starts to do something unrelated, such as taking his medication or answering his mother’s phone call, then the first proposal is not binding anymore, the Majlis has been voided, and a Hanafi judge will not force the party who made the first proposal to finalize the sale if this dispute ends in court. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Majalla al-Ahkam al-Adlya]

As you can see, a Majlis can be voided even without physical separation. Any statement or action that indicates a loss of interest in the sale will void the Majlis even if the two parties remain in the same location. Thus, as soon as the Majlis is voided, the acceptance of the first proposal by the second party is worthless because the first proposal has no legal value anymore. [ibid]

Textual Proofs

All of the above is based on the following verse of the Quran: “O believers! Do not devour one another’s wealth illegally, but rather trade by mutual consent.” [Quran, 4:29] and on the following Hadith of the Messenger of Allah (Blessings and Peace be upon him): “The two parties of a sale have the option to cancel the sale as long as they don’t separate.” [Bukhari]

The Hanafi scholars understood the separation in this Hadith to be a verbal separation rather than a physical separation. [Marghinani, Hidaya]

This is why it is possible for the Majlis to be voided despite the two parties remaining in the same location. This is also why the first party cannot cancel the sale unilaterally after the second party has accepted it, even if they are still in the same location. [ibid]

Mufti Taqi Usmani (May Allah preserve him) mentions in his book “Fiqh al-Buyu‘” that the Hanafi position is much more practical in our time, especially when it comes to international sales, as the Hanafi stance prevents many potential disputes.

Allah, Most High, says: “Do not dispute with one another.” [Quran, 8:46]

This is why most Fiqh academic bodies follow the Hanafi school on this specific issue and don’t recognize the “Khyar al-Majlis” found in the Shafi‘i school, for example, and replace it with the “Khyar al-Qabul” found in the Hanafi school. [Taqi Usmani, Fiqh al-Buyu‘]

Rulings Related to the Prostration of Recitation

The rulings for a change of Majlis regarding the prostrations of recitation are quite different. Here the change of location is what really matters. Changing your location by taking three steps or more in the open, will void the Majlis. If the two parties of a sale are walking together while discussing the sale, the Majlis won’t change.

As for eating a little, drinking, or going to a different corner of a house or a mosque, it won’t lead to a change in the Majlis when it comes to the prostrations of recitation. But eating or drinking will void a Majlis when it comes to sales because these events are interpreted as a loss of interest in the sale at hand. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Shurunbulali, Nur al-Idah]  

And Allah knows best.
[Ustadh] Sufyan Qufi
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Sufyan Qufi is an advanced seeker of knowledge, originally from Algeria, who grew up in France. He began searching far and wide for answers to the fundamental questions of life and was disappointed at the answers he found. Then he connected with various traditional teachers and gradually connected with SeekersGuidance. He embarked on his journey of learning through the various teachers at SeekersGuidance, including his mentor Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. He studied numerous texts in Islamic Law, Theology, Hadith, and other areas with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and other teachers, including Shaykh Abdurrahman al-Sha‘ar, Shaykh Ali Hani, and others. He is an active instructor at SeekersGuidance and answers questions through the SeekersGuidance Answers Service.