Willing buyer willing seller

So we have a situation where property developers put their houses up for sale and cross their fingers and hope that no Malays will buy their houses. And if within a certain period of time the ‘Malay units’ remain unsold then they would be free to sell them to the non-Malays at the normal and undiscounted price.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

There are those who would have us believe that Islam is a very complex religion. If you studied Islam from the day you were born till the day you die, say these people, you can learn only a very small percentage of Islam. Nobody goes to his/her grave knowing everything about Islam, they would add.

Okay, that is what they believe, and they are entitled to their beliefs, just like I am entitled to mine. But what is so complex about The Ten Commandments? For example, which part about ‘thou shalt not kill’ do you not understand? And has not humankind been killing fellow humans since the beginning of time? And worse of all, many, all religions not exempted, have been killing in the name of God.

Actually, Islam is not that complex, as what many may think. It is a very simple religion. It sets certain guidelines for mankind. The problem is, along the way, man, and not God, has added to this and has made it complex. So the question is did God or did man turn Islam into a complex religion?

That is of course a matter for debate and not something that can be resolved in this article.

My Tok Guru once said that Islam views the hypocrite as the real enemy of Islam. The Munafik, said my Tok Guru, is the most dangerous enemy of Islam and they deserve death.

We may shudder at this ‘fatwah’ or decree. There they go again propagating death, you may say. Why is Islam so engrossed with death to this person or death to that person? Nevertheless, whether we agree or disagree with the death sentence being propagated for Munafiks, we can’t deny the fact that Islam views the Munafik as a very dangerous person who deserves death.

And what, you may ask, would be considered a Munafik?

Well, let us deliberate on one example. Islam says that in any transaction there must be a willing buyer and willing seller for the transaction to be valid. Any transaction that is not based on willing buyer willing seller is considered not valid. And any transaction that is not valid will not receive God’s blessing.

That is not what I say. That is what Islam says. I am just enlightening you on what Islam says — or at least what my Tok Guru has told me.

Now let us take the current brouhaha about the special discount on houses sold to Malay buyers. Umno has made police reports against Tony Pua for calling an end to the special discount on luxury homes given to Malay buyers. In short, Umno wants the police to arrest Tony Pua and send him to jail for calling an end to the policy of giving Malay buyers of luxury homes a special discount.

We must remember that Umno means Muslims. So Muslims want the housing developers to give Malay buyers a special discount on the houses sold to them. This means, whether they agree or not, by law the housing developers must offer Malay buyers a special discount on the houses they buy. And if they do not then they are to be denied approval to build these houses.

Of course, they hide behind the New Economic Policy in enforcing this rule — which although its name has been changed a few times since 1970 is still very much in force since the last 40 years.

Now, since Umno is Muslim, let us reconcile this with Islam and see what is Islam’s view on this special discount to Malay house buyers.

In Islam there must be a situation of willing buyer willing seller. If someone is forced to sell something at a price that is not agreed upon, or at a price that is reluctantly agreed upon due to certain government intervention, then it is not a willing buyer willing seller situation.

This means the transaction is not valid.

So Malays who buy houses at a special discount because the developer is forced to sell it to them at a special discount are entering into a transaction that is not blessed by Islam. This is because it is not a willing transaction. It is a forced transaction.

The developers really have no choice in the matter. When they apply for their licence to build those houses the government would stipulate a clause that a certain percentage of the houses must be reserved for Malay buyers and the houses must be sold to the Malay buyers at a discount. If they do not agree then the developers would not be given permission to build the houses.

So they have no choice but to agree, if they want permission to build the houses. And they will need to price the houses sold to the non-Malay buyers slightly higher to subsidise the discount given to Malay buyers. So they ‘steal’ from the non-Malay buyers to be able to afford the discount given to the Malay buyers.

They can of course disagree with this, which means they will not obtain permission to build the houses. If they want to remain in business then they have no choice but to agree. It is a sort of blackmail. This is no willing buyer willing seller situation. It is sell to the non-Malays at a higher price so that the Malays can buy the houses at a cheaper price.

Most property developers are not happy with this. But they can’t do anything about it. Either they agree or else they will not obtain approval to build the houses. And they hope that not many Malays would come forward to buy the houses so that they can go back to the government to inform the government that there are no Malay buyers and they therefore need permission to sell the ‘Malay units’ to the non-Malays.

So we have a situation where property developers put their houses up for sale and cross their fingers and hope that no Malays will buy their houses. And if within a certain period of time the ‘Malay units’ remain unsold then they would be free to sell them to the non-Malays at the normal and undiscounted price.

Muslims are taught that in any transaction both the buyer and seller must be satisfied with the price and quality of goods being transacted. No one must be short-changed in price and quality.

A kilogram of apples must be exactly a kilogram. And there should be no worms in any one of the apples. The quality and weight must be as agreed and at the price agreed upon between seller and buyer. The seller can’t cheat the buyer either in weight or quality. And the buyer also can’t pay less for the apples but must pay what the seller has demanded. If the buyer pays less and walks away then the transaction is not valid and the apples become haram, just like it was pork.

That is when transacting a kilogram of apples. What about when transacting a house? Can you compel the seller to sell you his house at a ‘forced sale’ price? The seller must be satisfied with the price. It is not enough that the buyer is satisfied with the price. The seller too must be satisfied.

This is Islam. And in Islam the willing buyer willing seller concept is very important. Anything short of that and Islam will not recognise the transaction. So how can these Muslims be up in arms about what Tony Pua said? What Tony Pua said is what Islam also says. You can’t force someone to sell you something at a price the seller is not happy with.

So this is what I mean by Munafik. They shout, scream, rant and rave about Islam. And, in the same breath, they violate the most fundamental thing in Islam. They say it is the birthright of the Malays to be able to buy houses at a discount even if the seller is not happy selling it at that price. Then they ask the government to detain under the Internal Security Act all those who question Malay rights and privileges even though Islam forbids detention without trial.

And they say Islam is complex. Actually it is not. It is the Malays who have made Islam complex.

Do you know there are some Malay house buyers who refuse the special discount because they know in Islam you can’t force someone to part with his goods at a price he does not agree with?

Now those are what I would call true Muslims.