Is it permissible to purchase foreign currency online and receive it at a later date?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
According to contemporary Hanafi scholars, it is permissible to purchase foreign currency and receive it at a later date as long as one party makes payment at the time of the transaction.
The Fiqh (jurisprudence of the answer):
According to the Hanafi scholars, fiat currencies are not identical to gold and silver in terms of money, instead, the contemporary Hanafi jurists have likened fiat currencies to Fulūs (copper coins). As a result, they are not natural forms of money like gold and silver, rather, they are based on custom and can be activated/deactivated as currency based on practice. Based on this, not all the rulings of Ṣarf apply to fiat currency exchange.
The Hanafi jurists understand the the ‘illa (legal causative factor) of Riba to be:
- Homogeneity of the counter-values, and
- both counter-values being weighable or measured in volume.
These two ‘illa do not manifest when exchanging different fiat currencies; Each country’s currency is regarded as a separate genus. Further, fiat currencies are not weighed nor measured in volume, instead they are counted. However, possession by one party is still required in the contracting session due to a different factor, and that is the issue of Bay’ al-Kālī bil-Kālī. Qabḍ (possession) of at least one side of the bargain is required for Ta’yīn (specifying a counter-exchange in a contract), as the principle in Fiqh al-Mu’amalāt states that money is not specified by specification prior to possession and receipt; money is only specified by Qabḍ (possession).
And Allah Ta’ālā Alone Knows Best
Mufti Faraz Adam,
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 Fiqh al-Buyu. 2/728-739, Maktaba Ma’arif al-Qur’an
 وَكَذَا إذَا تَبَايَعَا فَلْسًا بِعَيْنِهِ بِفَلْسٍ بِعَيْنِهِ فَالْفَلْسَانِ لَا يَتَعَيَّنَانِ، وَإِنْ عُيِّنَا إلَّا أَنَّ الْقَبْضَ فِي الْمَجْلِسِ شَرْطٌ حَتَّى يَبْطُلَ بِتَرْكِ التَّقَابُضِ فِي الْمَجْلِسِ لِكَوْنِهِ افْتِرَاقًا عَنْ دَيْنٍ بِدَيْنٍ.
(بدائع الصنائع ج 5 ص 237)
قال: “ويجوز بيع الفلس بالفلسين بأعيانهما” عند أبي حنيفة وأبي يوسف، وقال محمد: لا يجوز لأن الثمنية تثبت باصطلاح الكل فلا تبطل باصطلاحهما، وإذا بقيت أثمانا لا تتعين فصار كما إذا كانا بغير أعيانهما وكبيع الدرهم بالدرهمين. ولهما أن الثمنية في حقهما تثبت باصطلاحهما إذ لا ولاية للغير عليهما فتبطل باصطلاحهما وإذا بطلت الثمنية تتعين بالتعيين ولا يعود وزنيا لبقاء الاصطلاح على العد إذ في نقضه في حق العد فساد العقد فصار كالجوزة بالجوزتين بخلاف النقود لأنها للثمنية خلقة، وبخلاف ما إذا كانا بغير أعيانهما لأنه كالئ بالكالئ وقد نهي عنه، وبخلاف ما إذا كان أحدهما بغير عينه لأن الجنس بانفراده يحرم النساء. (الهداية)