The Online Business and Potency of Shari’a Violation
Indeed, the chance of starting an online business is equal to the potency of shari’a violation that it might cause. Therefore, every businessman should understand about the economic rules and laws in shari’a.
“Usury is a contract/transaction on certain goods, of which, when the contract was signed, was unknown about its equality according to shari’a, or there was a postponement in handing over of both or one of the goods.” (See: “Mughnil Muhtaj”, by Muhammad Asy Syirbiniy 6/309)
Since the first time internet was introduced at the beginning of 1990s, the way of communication and interaction among men around the world became faster and more practical. Information could be accessed in no time. Changes and improvements from anywhere in this world seemed to happened in front of us. The world became unlimited, without the geographical boundaries, without any distance barrier. Internet was the greatest invention of the 20th century that made the world as it was in one’s hand.
As usual, an invention was always followed by the blooming chances of businesses. Once the network was connected – to the houses, offices across the country, and to various countries – the supply and demand were also connected. Slowly but sure, an online market was formed, adding variety to the trading and business models along with the existing conventional trading.
The increasing number of internet user has opened a bigger chance to the online businessman. The world stats internet data pointed out that in 2011, the internet user in Indonesia was just about 16.1% from the total population. Nowadays, the number is approximated to increase about two folds. At the world level, the estimated number of internet user is about one third of the world population. Indeed, this is a lucrative market.
According to wikipedia.org, Pizza Hut was the first one that made the facility of online offering (in 1994). Then, the amazon.com emerged as the first online store (1995). The following years were the heyday of the online business. There were rapid growths which was supported by the changing of lifestyle among the buyers who obtained comfort and convenience of transacting online. The online system worked for 24 hours. Its range of offering could reach the whole parts of the world. This was a very promising fact for anyone who were interested to start a business in this field. Even the selling could be done from home, and although the online seller was sleeping, the transaction could still happen. Today, most of the offline stores also have listed some of their goods in their online stall. In fact, many online shops were opened without the owner feeling the need to have a stock of goods, thus they acted more as a broker.
The internet business phenomenon seemed to confirm one of the signs of the Hour about the adjacent markets. Even the oncoming trial was already been told by the noble prophet, seal of the prophets, Muhammad -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-. He told that there will come a time when men will care no more about the lawful or unlawful things.
the online businessman who just know about the business chance without seeking for the shari’a rules regarding social and economic interactions beforehand, will certainly fall into the trap of usury and other violations of shari’a. The online businessman should learn about the knowledges of shari’a that he must know, particularly the ones regarding the economic activity that he was about to commence. Indeed, the chance of starting an online business is as great as the chance of violating the shari’a rules because of it.
The Urgency of Shari’a Knowledge
The basic principle of social interactions is it is allowed and lawful, until there is an indication that forbids it. Thus, every muslim who runs any kind of businesses should open their mind and be aware of the prohibitions in shari’a regarding his business activity. This obligation of learning applies on any businessman who wants to start a business of trading, renting, or any kind of businesses. Moreover, in online business, there are many chances of usury and violation of shari’a to take place. From the point of how the merchandise could only be seen, or even could only be read from a catalogue; not to mention the time of delivery of goods and postponed payment, and the non-existence of the goods stock, the ownership status of the goods, and the trading methods; all of those should be checked first, and the businessman should make sure that they are not against the shari’a rules.
Those obstacles in online business have its solutions in shari’a. For example, the salam transaction is a solution for a seller who doesn’t have the supplies or merely receive his fee/wage as a broker who helps to sell the goods. Every solution has its own requirements and principles to follow. From this point, we could see the urgency of learning the shari’a rules thus the businessmen would know about the things that they should pay attention to. The shari’a rules have established some prohibitions in social interaction, in order to favor the sense of fairness among mankind and avoid the violation that might arise from their greediness.
In the context of online businesses that we pioneered and continue to build, keeping ourselves away from every thing that is forbidden in it is the real way of success. The means to bring ourselves closer to the Grantor of Sustenance could be find anywhere in the virtual world. But at the same time, the internet could also be a culprit that drove a businessman away from the rules of his Lord.
Neglecting the obligation to learn the shari’a knowledge, or taking light of the vague (gharar) transactions among the various kinds of interactions are the most often causes of the violation of shari’a in online business. These are the things that might drive the businessmen away from His guidance. Business, as an activity to gain profit, should not cause any losses later on; losses that couldn’t be overcame by remorse and awareness to be a better self.
Foundation of everything that every people does is the faith in the Last Day. That is, the day where wealth, position, and children are no longer meaningful. In the context of business, the neglect of shari’a rules in social interaction in order to obtain the worldly profit will cause bankruptcy to the doer in the Hereafter. A business that was based on a short-term consideration will be at loss, as it is common knowledge that instant processes in business, although it yielded some profits, wouldn’t last long.
We could find many prohibition in social interactions which function to anticipate the greediness and laziness of men, which could cause violation of other people’s rights. Even in transactions that happened with the willingness of both parties, there were possibilities of mistakes; moreover in the actions that directly or indirectly aimed to gain unilateral profit. The benefit of Islamic shari’a becomes evident, in maintaining relationships among men and for the sustainability of their nature.
In the past, in the conventional business, there was a prohibition to go to the market for the merchants who didn’t understand about the shari’a rules. If that was the case, then in the current online market, the prohibition may be more sterner; don’t ever think about starting an online business if you don’t understand about the shari’a rules! And Allah knows best.
Author: Ahmad Taufik
Article of www.syaria.com