Assalaamu’alaikum Sheikh Sajid Umar. My family and I are really grateful for the Islamic guidance shared during your trips to Dubai. Sheikh Sajid, a question I had is related to the discount booklets that are sold here. In fact there are actual apps that you can purchase that offer the same discount service. Basically the purchase affords you an opportunity to receive discounts from several shops, restaurants, hotels, theme parks etc. The discount booklet and app is sold for an amount (up to +/- 300 Dirhams at times, and affords discounts that allow you a saving, if used, of more that the purchase price. Is this permissible in the Shariah?
باسم الله والحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن والاه
Wa’alaykum salam dear brother. It is interesting receiving your question as I was informed during my last visit there about a fatwa being spread, and attributed to myself, stating this discount program as impermissible. Your write in affords me an opportunity to clarify. May Allah bless you.
Discount programs present an opportunity for buyers to purchase product or services at reduced costs. This sort of program benefits both the providers of the discounts (due to increased customer traffic into stores as well as profits made from sales despite the application of the discount) as well as the holders of discount coupons and codes (due to the acquisition of products at a bargain).
The discount program you have cited is actually one of several types of implementation of the process, with each process owning its very own unique nuances that would affect the Shariah ruling applied to it. I state this in order to urge caution against using my answer here as an endorsement of every program in this category available.
With regards to what you have detailed; I do not see an issue with the purchase of this booklet or app on condition of the following clauses being looked after;
1. That the buyer carefully analyses all the elements of the product being purchased and understands exactly which products or services are part of the package and the exact nature of the discounts being offered.
2. That the buyer is confident they will actually use as many of the offers that would entitle the buyer to save more money than the amount actually spent purchasing the discount booklet or app before the discount offer expires.
3. That the offers one intends to benefit from and purchase are actually products that are considered permissible in the Shariah.
4. That the discounts being offered are ‘true’ in nature and not manufactured in a way that causes you to actually pay, after the discount is implemented, the same amount paid by other customers that do not qualify for the discount.
5. That the discount is applied on the prices portrayed to all customers and not exclusive to non promotional offers. This clause protects the nature of the discount program being purchased and protects the buyer of the service from paying more for a product than a normal customer buying the same product during promotional periods offered by the store for the same product.
6. That the promise of the seller of the product or service being discounted to implement the discount upon presentation of the discount voucher or code is ‘bullet proof’ and one that is respected and completed.
This particular clause especially applies to the case being discussed in this question whereby the discount service is purchased from a third party who has made prior discount related arrangements and agreements with different sellers of goods and services. With this clause, no seller can refuse to honour the directive of the discount coupon or code which in turn protects the seller of the discount service, as well as all buyers of the service.
I pray the above clarifies, and should you have any further questions; please do not hesitate to write in.
And Allah Almighty knows best.