AN ISLAMIC TAKE ON PERMISSIBLE AND INVALID COMMODITY ACQUISITION METHODS
Today, the concept of commodity refers to anything that can be turned into security and released to the market
The commodity is a legal term. Some legal experts define the commodity as "something that has a value and must be compensated by the person destroying it." Based on this definition, interests are also regarded as independent commodities. In Article 126 of Mecelle, which was based on the Hanafi sect of Islam and also the civil code of the Ottoman Empire, the commodity was defined as "what a person naturally is inclined, and which can be saved/ stored until the time of need, whether it was movable or immovable." Benefits do not fall into the category of the commodity in this definition. The practical reason for limiting the definition of the commodity to the material is that benefits cannot be sold independently and in case of usurpation/theft, the offender is not obliged to compensate in addition to the main penalty.
Hanafis' refusal to accept benefits as good has been accepted as a deficiency by some. But if we look at the facts, we see that the Ottoman, the world leader of its time, planned its yield more realistically and aimed to minimise trade conflicts by taking materials as its basis to define what constitutes commodity. Considering that today's commercial disputes or fictitious transactions are generally caused by virtual channels, we see the importance of this approach.
A commodity turns into a property when it comes under the control of a person on a legitimate ground. The right of property grants the broadest authority to a person over a commodity. Obtaining a commodity through illegal means such as theft or usurpation, on the other hand, cannot constitute ownership. Such ownership is legally null (invalid), cannot be turned into a property even if it is actually owned by its possessor, and should immediately be returned to its real owner.
DEFINITION OF COMMODITY IS CHANGING
The definition of the commodity is not static but ever-changing. In the past, animals that were fed for their meat-milk, or for riding were also called commodities. In time, they were mostly replaced by gold and silver. Today, the concept is now more complex, referring to anything that can be turned into security and released to the market. In fact, money, a medium of exchange, has been acting as a commodity, which is beyond its real function. Our age can easily be called the financial era. Such an era, in which the material things have taken hold of the humans and their values, has never been seen. Therefore, it is now much more difficult to determine what constitutes a commodity and what not. And it is necessary to be much more apprehensive of obtaining goods through halal and legitimate ways. Because when a commodity/income, which is essentially halal, is rigged with haram, it becomes invalid. For example, if a company stirs up trouble into the work undertaken, it turns what was once halal into haram. There are 4 legitimate ways to acquire a property in Islamic law:
a CONTRACT: It is the easiest and most common way to acquire legitimate property (Like a sales contract). It is essential that the contracts comply with fundamental principles such as not including interest, uncertainty, fraud, and dissension.
b CLAIM: To gain something by manual labour (As the wage of the artist)
c INCURSION: To take possession of properties that are legitimate and without an owner (Such as hunting or reclaiming of the dead land with the permission of the state)
d SUCCESSION: To be a successor to a dead person. Acquiring property in ways other than the above-men- tioned ones is invalid for Islamic law. Examples such as selling a haram commodity, duping the measure-scale, fraud, obtaining interest-bearing income, usurpation, theft, embezzling state property, and bribery are not valid means of acquiring property according to Islam.
ISLAM HAS ALWAYS FOUGHT AGAINST ILLICIT WAYS
Islam has imposed strict controls in the market since the time of Our Prophet, fought against those who manipulated the markets, released bad products, disrupted the prices by acting as customers, demanded higher prices, stocked products, and sold defective products in terms of quality and hygiene and imposed various fines on these matters.
The Islamic law acts on certain principles while protecting the rights and benefits of the market members. Victims are granted various rights such as making a complaint, compensation for their damages and using their right of option. In cases of trade defects and crimes, there have been different types of penalties such as warning, condemnation, sending for the court, defaming the offender, making the offender ride the back of animals, exposing, and imprisonment. In order to avoid such legal sanctions, tradespeople should not dupe the scales or weighing, and should not supply bad or poor-quality goods, especially foodstuffs, to the market. Avoiding cheating in the trade is also another fundamental principle. For this reason, offering products for pre-sale by making promises for delivery or production that is otherwise impossible is prohibited by Islamic law in order to protect the customer. It is necessary to include here fraudulent acts made through constructs such as non-existing farms. Islamic law explains the prin- ciple of how trade must be in accordance with the law, and it is not halal for both the buyer and the seller to violate each other's rights.
Lecturer at Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Prof. Dr. Şevket Topal