Money as Medium of Exchange
Ma‘mar b. ‘Abdullah reported that he sent his slave with a sa‘ of wheat and said to him: “Sell it, and then buy with it barley.” The slave went away and he got a sa‘ (of barley) and a part of sa‘ over and above that. When he came to Ma‘mar he informed him about that, whereupon Ma‘mar said to him: “Why did you do that? Go back and return that, and do not accept but weight for weight, for I used to hear from Allah’s Apostle (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) as saying: Exchange of food for food should be like for like.” He (one of the narrators) said: ‘Our food in those days consisted of barley. It was said to him (Ma’mar) that (wheat) is not like that (barley).’ He replied: ‘I am afraid these may not be similar.’
Abu Huraira and Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with them) reported that Allah’s Messenger (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) deputed a person from Banu ‘Adi al Ansari to collect revenue from Khaibar. He came with a fine quality of dates, whereupon Allah’s Messenger (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) said to him: “Are all the dates of Khaibar like this?” He said: “Allah’s Messenger, it is not so.” We buy one sa‘ of (fine dates), with two sa‘ of the dates of different qualities mixed together.” Whereupon Allah’s Messenger (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) said: “Don’t do that, but like for like, or sell this (the inferior quality and receive the price) and then buy with the price of that, and that would make up the measure.”
Abu Sa‘id reported: Bilal (Allah be pleased with him) came with fine quality of dates. Allah’s Messenger (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) said to him: “From where you have brought them?)” Bilal said: “We had inferior quality of dates and I exchanged two sa‘s (of inferior quality) with one sa‘ (of fine quality) as food for Allah’s Apostle (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam),” whereupon Allah’s Messenger (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) said: “Woe! It is in fact usury; therefore, don’t do that. But when you intend to buy dates (of superior quality), sell (the inferior quality) in a separate bargain and then buy (the superior quality).”
Abu Nadra reported: I asked Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) about the conversion (of gold and silver for silver and gold). He said: “Is it hand to hand exchange?” I said: “Yes,” whereupon he said: “There is no harm in it.” I informed Abu Sa‘id about it, telling him that I had asked Ibn ‘Abbas about it and he said: “Is it hand to hand exchange?” I said: “Yes,” whereupon he said: “There is no harm in it.” He (the narrator) said, or he said like it: “We will soon write to him, and he will not give you this fatwa (religious verdict):’ He said: “By Allah, some one of the boy-servants of Allah’s Messenger (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) brought dates, but he refused to accept them (on the plea) that those did not seem to be of the dates of our land.” He said: “Something had happened to the dates of our land, or our dates. So I got these dates (in exchange) by giving excess (of the dates of our land),” whereupon he said: “You made an addition for getting the fine dates (in exchange) which tantamounts to riba; don’t do that (in future). Whenever you find some doubt (as regards the deteriorating quality of) your dates, sell them, and then buy the dates that you like.”
Source: Economic Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): A Select Anthology of Hadith Literature on Economics, Muhammad Akram Khan. Republished with permission.
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