Return of sold goods

Q573 :I sold an article to an acquaintance having received half of the price and agreed to spread the remainder over two months. She was unable to pay after the first month, and after the second month she wanted to return the article because she was going back home. She gave me a small sum of money as penalty for not completing the purchase. Am I allowed to receive such penalty.

A573 : The Prophet advises us to accept returned goods when the purchaser regrets having bought them. Obviously, such an acceptance presupposes that by parting with it to the purchaser in the first place and receiving it back, no loss is incurred. In other words, if you buy a suit from a shop and find it at home that it is not particularly suitable to you; after trying you feel you want return it. If you take it back the following day, then the shopkeeper is recommended by the Prophet to take it back. However, if the suit gets stained while it is with you such as might have happened if you dropped some food on it, then the shopkeeper is at a disadvantage if he takes it back. He cannot sell it when it is dirty, and if he sends it to be dry cleaned, it may lose its appeal. If he is to overlook this, its dry cleaning will cost him some money, as well as time and effort. In this case, he is entitled to recover that loss from the purchaser, although it is open to him to refuse to take it back. In your case, if the article which you sold was returned unused, as you have implied, and taking it back will not mean any loss for you, then the penalty should not be taken. If you take it as compensation for missing a chance to sell the article while it was with your customer, you are not taking forbidden money, but it is much better not to accept it, especially if you know that your customer is not that rich. From the Islamic point of view, it is better to have all our dealings coloured by a spirit of compassion and care than exacting our rights to the full.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )