Are reverse auctions or Dutch auctions halal? [Question Published as Received]
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
It is permissible to participate in a Dutch auction on the following conditions:
- The auction does not involve non-compliant agreements.
- The items being auctioned are lawful.
- There is no other wider Shari’ah infringement in the auction.
The Fiqh of the Answer
A Dutch auction is different from the more traditional auction, in which the price of an item is increased as bidders compete to purchase it. In a Dutch auction, the auctioneer will begin by offering the item for sale at a high price, and then gradually lower the price until a buyer is willing to pay the new, lower price. The first buyer to accept the reduced price wins the auction and purchases the item. The concept of a Dutch auction is often used in financial markets to sell securities and commodities, and in the sale of goods, such as fresh produce, to ensure that the items are sold before they become stale or otherwise undesirable.
An auction is governed by several principles that include:
- An introduction to the item (Nidā’)
- An initial offer or a starting price (‘Atā’)
- Acceptance of the auctioneer (Rusuẅ)
So long as an auction is conducted in a transparent and honest manner, one would be permitted to partake or facilitate in such auctions. The auctioneer is required to call out the bids clearly and impartially, and the bidders are required to respond with their offers. Once the highest bid, or lowest in the case of a Dutch auction, is determined, the auctioneer declares the item sold, and the seller must deliver the goods or services to the buyer. This process of Ījāb and Qabūl establishes a binding contract between the seller and the buyer.
It is important to note that only permissible items can be sold at an auction, and the sale must not involve riba (usury or interest), which is prohibited.
Muftī Muhammad Taqī Uthmāni (ḥafiẓahullah) states in Fiqhul Buy’u that although there is no discussion to be found in classical sources of jurisprudence in regard to a reverse auction, however, it can still be accepted by drawing a comparison to the structure of standard auctions.
And Almighty Allah Alone Knows Best
Maulana Ammar Y Badat
Reviewed and approved by
Mufti Faraz Adam
Darul Iftaa Muadh ibn Jabal
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