Q. I bought the Samsung S20 series on a pre-order basis. Is the concept of pre-ordering correct according to Shari’ principles?
A. A pre-orderis an order placed for an item that has not yet been released. The item could be in existence or the item is non-existent at the time of sale but needs manufacturing for it to be released.
In terms of Shariah, the basic principle of a sale is that the item being sold must be in existence and in the physical or constructive ownership of the seller at the time of sale to the purchaser. However, there are two types of sales that are excluded from this principle; a forward sale (Salam) and manufacturing (Istisnaa’).
In the case where the item exists at the time of sale but has not yet been released, the seller may sell the item on pre-order and the rules of a forward sale (Salam) would apply. See here http://themufti.com/2019/06/21/salaam-forward-sale-a-permissible-way-of-selling-items-which-are-not-in-stock-drop-shipping/ for more information on the rules of a forward sale.
On the other hand, if the items does not exist at the time of sale and needs manufacturing for it to be released, the seller may sell the item on pre-order and the rules of manufacturing (Istisnaa’) will apply. Accordingly, the sale of the pre-ordered item will be valid provided that the price is fixed and the full details and specifications of the item are disclosed at the time of the sale. In Manufacturing (Istisnaa’), the terms of payment and delivery are mutually agreed upon. (Majallah 1/76)
As such, the concept of pre-ordering an item is consistent with Shari’ principles in accordance with the rules of a forward sale (Salam) or manufacturing (Istisnaa’).
Allah Ta’ala Knows Best
Mufti Ismaeel Bassa