بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In his recently published masterpiece on the Laws of Trade, Fiqhul Buyoo’ Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (حفظه الله) wrote with regards to items which are made from halal raw materials that they are of three types:
- Those items which are manufactured for prohibited usage in their present state, like musical instruments.
- Those items which are manufactured for permitted usage in their present state and for it to be used in a prohibited manner one would need to alter it. For instance, grape juice is permissible to drink in its present state and to use it for intoxication (a prohibited usage) one would need to ferment it.
- Those items which are manufactured for general usages i.e. they can be used in a permissible manner and a prohibited one in their present state. For instance, a radio. One can use it to listen to permissible programs like Quranic recitations, factual news, lectures or prohibited programs like music, etc.
Concerning the sale of televisions, Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (حفظه الله) mentions that there are two opinions with regards to the image displayed on its screen.
A group of scholars are of the opinion that the image displayed on the screen of a television comes under the purview of ‘picture’ prohibited in the ahadith. For instance, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Among the people who will be most severely punished on the Day of Resurrection will be the picture-makers.”
Therefore, the ruling of a television according to them will be the same as selling musical instruments. Mufti sahib (حفظه الله) had explained that according to the Hanabilah and Malikiyah, musical instruments have no value and their sale was completely null and void (batil). According to the Ahnaaf even though the sale would occur it was considered makrooh tahrimi (which is haram in practice) and the money earned would not be pure.
The second group of scholars are of the opinion that the images displayed on the television screen do not classify as ‘pictures’ which have been prohibited in the Prophetic ahadith. They say the image of the television is more characteristic of a mirror’s reflection than a picture embedded on a cloth or paper. Mufti Usmani (حفظه الله) chose this opinion.
Therefore, a television would come under the third type of items mentioned above like the radio. Mufti sahib (حفظه الله) explained that according to the Malikiyyah if majority of its usage is in haram, then its sale would be prohibited. According to the Hanafis if the buyer intends that the person commits a sin with the item or in the contract the sin is mentioned, then selling the item will be sinful. In the case where these two aspects are not found, and the seller does not know how the customer will use the item, then there is no sin in selling it. [See here for further details.]
Mufti Taqi Usmani (حفظه الله) then warns, “However, majority of a television’s usage in our era is in such programs which are not free from a religiously prohibited thing. Another point is that majority of the customers purchase them for these prohibited reasons of viewing movies and other prohibited programs. Even though they may be a few who do not intend such.”
He then says that a regular sale of a television will be makrooh tanzihi (reprehensible) and when it is known that the person is purchasing it for prohibited purposes, then it is makrooh tahrimi (prohibitively reprehensible) to sell it. A makrooh tahrimi act is a sin and we are prohibited to commit it. Therefore, the wealth earned in such a sale would not be pure as Mufti sahib (حفظه الله) pointed out above.
In the end Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (حفظه الله) advises, “Therefore, a Muslim should be wary of making its trade his business in the current situation, unless Allah creates an atmosphere in which it is used exclusively or mostly for the permissible. And Allah subahanahu wa ta’ala knows best.”