I just wanted to know the ruling on repairing and servicing cars. Many people just take their cars to the mechanic and ask for it to be repaired without fixing a price. Is this allowed in Islam? What if the customer does not mind if the cost is not fixed from before?
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) relates that ‘the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) prohibited the pebble sale and the sale consisting gharar.’ (Sahih Muslim, no: 1513, Musnad Ahmad, Sunan Abi Dawud, Sunan Tirmidhi and others)
What is Gharar?
The term ‘gharar’ cited in the above Hadith linguistically means deception, but in classical Islamic jurisprudence, it is used quite widely. Gharar encompasses: uncertainty, risk, hazard and deceit. The jurists (fuqaha) have clearly asserted that in order for a contract to be Islamically valid and sound, it must be free from gross uncertainty (gharar, also described as jahala).
The Hanafi jurist, Imam Ibn Nujaym (Allah have mercy on him) states in his Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq:
‘From among the conditions [of a contract being correct], the item of sale and price must be identified in a way that prevents potential dispute. As such, a contract consisting of uncertainty that may lead to a dispute [when it will not be clear which party is in the right] is incorrect, such as buying a sheep from a herd without specifying size and weight.’ (Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq 5/281)
It is stated in the Ottoman Courts Hanafi Fiqh Manual on commercial transactions, Al-Majallah al-ahkam al-adaliyya:
‘Article 237: Determining the price at the time of the transaction is necessary. As such, if the transaction is carried out without [clearly] determining the price, it would be considered a corrupt (fasid) transaction.
Article 238: It is necessary that the price is known [to both parties].’ (See: Al-Majallah al-ahkam al-adaliyya, with the commentary of Salim Rustam Baz, p. 122)
It is clear from the above that when repairing or servicing a car, the total cost of the parts and labor must be clearly defined and agreed upon before any work is commenced on the vehicle, regardless of whether the customer agrees or not; otherwise it would be sinful and the transaction considered corrupt.
Some vehicle mechanics and good companies normally inform the customer of the costs before servicing or repairing the vehicle, and acquire the customer’s consent. However, some mechanics/companies do not inform the customer of the costs which, on many occasions, is seen to result in a dispute. As such, both mechanics and customers are required by Shari’ah to agree upon a clearly defined price before any work is commenced on the vehicle.
Some may say it is practically difficult to set a price before the vehicle is inspected. The solution is simple: The mechanic may charge a separate fee for inspection. Thereafter, he may notify the customer how much it will cost for the vehicle to be repaired. If the customer is happy to go ahead, he will be required to pay both the inspection fee as well as the costs for repair. However, he will be at liberty to not have his vehicle repaired by the mechanic and thus will only be required to pay the inspection fee.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK