Q: Can we create an online and mobile platform for the bartering of goods among consumers? Kind of like a classifieds site specifically for bartering items. Users are able to exchange items (and potentially services) they possess for items/services other individuals possess through the platform. We were told some months ago that there may be an issue of Riba’ Al Fadl when it came to implementation of the idea. We didn’t see this as that much of a concern at the time because it seemed like the type of items (gold, silver, wheat, barley, dates, and salt (just food in general)) that would fall under this category could be prohibited from the platform without foreseeable consequence. However, we later were notified that bartering in general may be a disliked system or even haraam in the presence of currency.
So we would like to know what the scholarly opinion on this matter is and if our business idea is Islamically permissible or “safe” to pursue as a means of earning a living? Would you advise us to continue with the idea and, if so, what modifications, if any, would need to be made?
الجواب حامدا ومصليا ومسلما ومنه الصدق والصواب
A: Bartering of goods is permissible in Shariah as longer as all the conditions of a valid contract are fulfilled. If the bartering involves the trading of usurious commodities then it is important that the rules related to the trade of such commodities are also adhered to. Whilst the responsibility of trading within the laws of Shariah lies with the trading parties if you earn an income for providing such platform the nature of the trade must be Shariah compliant for the income to be permissible for you.