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As-Salam-o-Alaikum,

Just wondering, how to take care of every small element when doing online business. And how to beat competitors while doing that...

I am talking about a business scenario in western world i.e. UK, US, Europe. Previously we have rejected many online ideas just because we don't want to publish stuff that is not permitted in Islam, for example photos, videos etc. We know that there is more money in such things but we restricted ourselves. Then we came down things like, job sites & car hire.

Let's say we have a job site for a western world country. What if non muslims want to post jobs for things that are not permissible in Islam. For example, pubs, night clubs, photography, filming, tv, media, alcohol, and the list goes on... What do we do in that case?

Now the car rental site, We don't have any pictures of women etc on our website. But the whole car rental business circles around travel insurance. We are stuck again.

If we go towards finance or credit cards related sites then there is interest rates and banks. Again stuck.

It's extremely difficult to think of a business which is totally pure. There are many scenarios where if we don't do anything bad. BUT our customers, affiliates or publishers are going to have some element of it. e.g. job site.

Any guidance to tackle such issues please?

JazakAllah

  • A person who makes a knife is not responsible for the people that the knife murders, unless the knife was created and advertised for murder. You should consider looking into Islamic banking. Credit cards are clearly haraam though as the business model revolves around riba. Debit cards and PayPal are fine. – Muz Sep 5 '12 at 2:05
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The short answer is to take a local class on Islamic finance. It's a huge field of its own. Barring that, talk to a local scholar or imam you trust who can answer your specific questions.

As a software developer, I run into this all the time. "Should I build a software like X," where X could be woefully misused, abused, and misconstrued by users. Should I try to monitor every post, comment, and piece of content? Should I let people moderate each other?

One principle that comes to play widely here is the certainty principle. In a nutshell, how certain are you that the person will use your site/service/product for haram?

  • If you are 100% sure, then it is haram to sell that product/service to that person.
  • If you are 50-99% sure, then it is makrooh (disliked; rewarded if you avoid it) to do so.
  • If you are 49% or less sure, then it is mubah (permissible; no reward/sin either way).

That's the fiqh of it. For the practical application, you need to be clever and think ahead.

Say you wanted to start a stock photography website. Digital photography, by itself, would be mubah (permissible) (so long as it remains digital). However, people can upload haram photographs.

What I would recommend is create a terms-of-usage. Something like:

Any content which is pornographic, overly sexualized, or illustrates alcohol or drug use, etc. at the discretion of the site, may be immediately removed and your account may be banned.

If you look at existing sites, you often see terms of use. This lowers the chance of someone using your site incorrectly by quite a lot. If they do, you have a legal and ethical way to evict their content, and possibly their account.

Which leaves you with a bigger problem: how do you check all the content? In short, you can't. Perhaps, wallahu a'lam, you have taken enough means, and whatever sneaks through is really someone else's problem anyway (they're uploading haram content to a service you worked hard to halalify).

Another tactic that works well is flagging/moderating. Allow users (who may be trustworthy or may not be) to flag or push out content which goes against the site terms.

Again, it's not a perfect system, but it doesn't need to be. These are some examples of principles you can apply and practical systems you can adopt to try to keep your business as squeaky-clean as possible.

In summary: I asked one of my teachers this question:

What do you say about a building a product or service that can be used by people to do unhalal stuff. For example if I create a tool for posting stories/books/writings online, and people use that platform to write Harry Potter type books, or sex books, or etc. We are definitely not building it for that (haram) purpose. But the issue is, they will come in our site and use it unethically, then what? Or a better question, is Mark Zuckerberg responsible for what happens on Facebook?

He replied:

In general, you are not responsible, nor is Mark Zuckerberg.

And Allah knows best.

0

Sunday, 10 December 2017 1:21 AM

Esselamün Aleyküm brothers

You run your business with good intentions, thats all you can do. We live in a sinful world so expect ppl to do wrong. If people are paying by credit cards that doesn't concern you either. Lets not make Islam hard to understand, and complicating to build business around.. I would love to hire a car from a Muslim brother to help out our Uma and plus I know i can trust an Islam brothers business due to fear of Allah. Subhanallah! Set your goals in establishing a good business, and stop thinking about things beyond your control and wasting a dream you want to pursue due to ppls sin or haram.. If I was looking to rent a car lets say, if you did or didn't have a business I would still need to rent a car. Do it right then you will be rewarded no matter what outcome, simple. People can be in all sorts of conditions and this means maybe they misplaced their wallet or it was stolen so they are left with a credit card (50 days pay off period plus their intension).. You didn't have a business idea from nowhere, so why let Islam get in the way.. your intentions are good and therefore your business will do good, your not living to controls other ppls mistakes. Islam is freedom it broader thinking so we can achieve anything we want.. As long as we have good intensions doing so.. Ill get out your way now!

May Allah rewards your thoughtfulness and give you courage to build your dreams...

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