1. We will now explain the rules with regard to items sold by weight, such as dry groceries, meat, steel, copper, vegetables, salt, etc. If a person wishes to exchange or purchase any of the above-mentioned items (or items that fall under this category) in exchange for the same item, e.g. he wishes to exchange wheat in return for wheat, rice in exchange for rice, flour in exchange for flour or any other similar item which is the same, then the rule in this regard is that it is wâjib to take the following two factors into consideration : (i) the weight of the item will have to be equal on both sides. Even the slightest difference in weight will not be permitted. If not, it will be regarded as interest. (ii) If the two parties do not take possession of the respective items, the minimum requirement is that the wheat of both should be kept separately.
You should take your wheat, weigh it, keep it separately and tell him that this wheat is kept over here, he can take it whenever he wishes. In the same way, he should also weigh his wheat, keep it separately and tell you that this wheat is kept over here and that you can take it whenever you wish. If they do not do this and separate from each other (or go away), they will be committing the sin of interest.
2. A person wishes to give his inferior quality wheat in exchange for wheat that is of a high quality, or inferior quality flour in exchange for flour that is of a high quality. When engaging in exchanges of this nature, it is obvious that no one would give an equal amount. In order to save oneself from interest, one should sell this inferior quality wheat or flour in exchange for money. For example, by selling a certain amount of flour for R2. Thereafter, he should purchase the high quality flour (or wheat) with the R2 that he received. This is permissible.
3. If an item is being exchanged for another item, e.g. a person gives some wheat and takes rice, barley, gram, corn, salt, meat, vegetables, etc., then in such a case it is not wâjib for the weight of both the items to be exactly the same. He can give a kilo of wheat in exchange for 10 kilos of rice or any other item. He could also give a kilo of wheat in exchange for a fraction of a kilo of any other item.
However, the second factor is wâjib here as well. That is, the transaction must be executed in the presence of both the persons. Alternatively, the minimum is that the items of both the persons must be kept separately. If they do not do this, they will be committing the sin of interest.
4. A woman purchased vegetables from the hawker in exchange for a kilo of gram. She then separated herself from there and went into the house to bring some wheat. This is harâm and not permissible. She will have to recommence the entire transaction.
5. Items which are sold by weight were purchased with silver coins, money, clothes, or any other item which is not sold by weight but sold by measurement or by counting. For example, the person gave a metre of material and took some wheat or similar item (which is sold in weight) in exchange. Alternatively, he gave some wheat or gram and took some guavas, oranges, pears, eggs, or any other item that is sold by counting. In short, on one side we have an item that is sold by weight, and the other side we have an item that is sold by counting or measuring. In such a case, none of the two factors which we had mentioned will be wajib . For R1, a person can purchase as much wheat, flour, or vegetables as he wishes. Similarly, he can give some clothes and take as much dry groceries as he wishes. By giving some wheat, gram, etc. he can take as much guavas, oranges, etc. as he wishes. All this is possible irrespective of whether the entire transaction is executed in one sitting or whether it is completed after them separating. In all cases this transaction will be correct.
6. On one side there is sifted flour while on the other side there is un-sifted flour. Alternatively, on one side there is course flour while on the other side there is fine flour. When exchanging such flour, it will be wâjib for them to be equal in weight. It is not permissible to have any difference in the weight. If it becomes necessary to exchange it in this way, the above-mentioned methods should be adopted.
If on one side you have wheat flour and on the other side you have gram flour or rice flour, then in such a case it will not be wâjib to have an equal weight of both. However, the second factor, i.e. that the transaction must be executed in one sitting, is wâjib .
7. In no way is it permissible to exchange wheat for flour. This is irrespective of whether you give a kilo of wheat in exchange for a kilo of flour, or whether there is any difference in their weight. In all cases it is not permissible. However, if the person gives some wheat and does not take any wheat flour, instead he takes the flour of some other item such a gram flour, it will be permissible to do so. However, the transaction will have to be executed there and then.
8. A person gave mustard seeds and took mustard oil in return or he gave sesame seeds in exchange for sesame oil. In such a case you should check whether this oil is definitely more than the oil that can be extracted from these mustard or sesame seeds or not. If this oil is more, it will be permissible to undertake such a transaction provided it is executed there and then. If it is equal to or less, or you have a doubt as to whether it is more or not, it will not be permissible. Instead it will be regarded as interest.
9. A person gave beef in exchange for mutton. It is not wâjib for the weight of both to be the same. There can be a difference in the weight. However, the transaction will have to be executed there and then.
10. A woman gave her water pitcher and took another one in exchange. Alternatively, she exchanged her water pitcher for a small pot or pan. In such a case it is a condition for both the items to be equal in weight and for the transaction to be executed there and then. If there is a slight difference in the weight, it will be interest. This is because both the items are made of copper and they will therefore be regarded as being of the same category. If they are equal in weight but the transaction was not executed there and then, it will also be interest. However, if one item is made of copper and the other of steel, brass or any other metal, it will be permissible to have some difference in weight. However, the transaction will have to be executed there and then.
11. A woman purchases a kilo of wheat on credit from a person and says : “I don’t have any wheat. However, in compensation for your wheat I will give you two kilos of gram.” This is not permissible because it means that the woman is exchanging her gram for wheat and at the time of exchanging it is necessary to have the entire transaction to be executed there and then. There must be no credit remaining.
However, if the need arises to carry out such a transaction, she should take the wheat on credit but she should not mention that she will give two kilos of gram in exchange for it. Instead, after some time she should bring the gram and inform the person thus : “I am giving you this gram in exchange for the wheat that I had taken from you.” This is permissible.
12. In all the above-mentioned masâ’il it is a prerequisite for the entire transaction to be executed there and then. If this is not done, then the minimum is that both the items should be weighed there and then and kept separately. If this is not done, the transaction will be regarded as interest.