Can I work in a supermarket if I process harām items such as alcohol at the till?

Q: Can I work in a supermarket if I process harām items such as alcohol at the till?

الجواب حامدا ومصليا ومسلما ومنه الصدق والصواب

A: The legal advice that I have been given is that under English law there is no presumption of agency between a till operator and the supermarket owner/s and that the till operator is a representative of the latter but does not have ostensible authority beyond carrying out the handling and processing of the goods.  Thus, it can be concluded that the till operator is not an agent/wakil of the supermarket owner/s in a manner that he/she concludes the sale on their behalf but rather the status of the till operator is merely that of a handler of goods and processor of data.  The sale is concluded electronically directly between the customer and the supermarket owner/s.  Thus, the function for which the till operator is remunerated is the handling of goods and processing of data and not the function of selling.  Whilst, a till operator is not permitted to sell haram goods on behalf of another by general agreement, according to the principles of Imam Abu Hanifah it is permissible to handle haram foodstuffs etc. for another and any remuneration received is also lawful as there is no sin in the handling of the goods or the processing of the data.  Any unlawful use of the goods is voluntarily actioned by the customer who is an independent agent and so his/her actions cannot be traced back to the till operator.  However, according to the principles of Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad, such is seen as assisting in sin and thus the proportion of remuneration earned by the till operator for the processing of haram goods is considered unlawful whilst the proportion earned for processing halal goods is lawful.


It is now quite common in the UK to see Muslim till operators in supermarkets situated in Muslim populated areas.  Such till operators are contractually bound to process haram products as well as halal products and have no discretion in this regard.  Consequently, it would appear that the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah can be availed of in this instance and that it is permissible for Muslim till operators to process pork, alcohol and other haram products and the remuneration so earned is lawful.  Obviously, the more superior position is for a Muslim to avoid such employment in view of the opinion of Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad and, if possible, Muslim employees should try to adhere to it.


ففى رد المحتار: قوله: (وجاز تعمير كنيسة) قال فى الخانية: ولو آجر نفسه ليعمل فى الكنيسة ويعمرها لا بأس به لأنه لا معصية فى عين العمل. قوله: (وحمل خمر ذمى) قال الزيلعى: وهذا عنده وقالا: هو مكروه ” لأنه عليه الصلاة والسلام {لعن فى الخمر عشرة وعد منها حاملها} “. وله أن الإجارة على الحمل وهو ليس بمعصية ، ولا سبب لها وإنما تحصل المعصية بفعل فاعل مختار. وليس الشرب من ضرورات الحمل لأن حملها قد يكون للإراقة أو للتخليل ، فصار كما إذا استأجره لعصر العنب أو قطعه. والحديث محمول على الحمل المقرون بقصد المعصية. اهـ. زاد فى النهاية وهذا قياس وقولهما استحسان. ثم قال الزيلعى: وعلى هذا الخلاف لو آجره دابة لينقل عليها الخمر أو آجره نفسه ليرعى له الخنازير يطيب له الأجر عنده وعندهما يكره . (كتاب الحظر والإباحة ، فصل فى البيع ، 6/392-391)

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