Price Incentives by Another Name
October 31, 2017
Last week, while I was making inquiries about the best way to position an offer in sales copy, the flash of a thought prompted me to consider the issue from an entirely different angle….
Here’s my realization:
Most of you probably aren’t going to like what I have to say.
But I feel compelled – no, obligated – to share it with you.
Perhaps many of you will stop reading this when you see where I’m heading.
And others will try to discredit my statement via a string of rebuttals and other opposition.
Regardless, I’m not going to spend a lot of time trying to “sell you” on what I’m about to say, because I believe that anyone with integrity and honesty and who fears Allah will see the truth. So, I leave it to your hearts and iman to lead you into acceptance.
And those who are looking to appease their own desires or fill their pockets above anything else, well… I doubt that what I have to say will fit into their agenda. And that’s up to them.
Be that as it may –
My subject is fairly ancient. Today, we commonly refer to it as interest, but its names are many. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, called it “riba.”
I’m sure we all do our utmost to stay as far from it as we can. It is, after all, one of the major sins.
We know that riba has 73 doors, the least of which is comparable to committing zina with one’s own mother (audhu billah!). So, it’s not just a sin; it’s abominable and utterly detestable.
And the punishment for this sin? Nothing less than the Lord of all the worlds, the Owner of the Day of Judgement, the One who will seize the heavens, roll them up, and grasp them in His right Hand and proclaim that He alone is King, He Subhana wa ta’ala will declare war upon the individual who is involved in riba. Allah has cursed the giver and taker of riba, its witnesses, and its writer. So, we must be ever wary and on guard, for indeed, it is no light matter.
There are two types of riba. Riba an-nasiyah comes from the meaning “excess.” In its most basic form, it is charging or paying a higher rate for something when payment is delayed or deferred, but when full payment is made up front then the price is lower.
No degree in economics necessary here.
Well, guess what?
Are you familiar with those price incentives we build into our product or service offerings to encourage our customers to make a full one-time payment as opposed to 3, 6, or 12 partial payments? You know, that price break or savings offer they qualify for just because they pay in full and up front?
We might call it “incentive” or whatever seemingly harmless name you may choose, but I’d have to suggest another more distasteful word – a word many of us might balk at hearing.
In fact, calling something forbidden by a different name is one of shaytan’s tools of deceptions. It is, indeed, one of the many ways that he makes the sinner’s wrongdoings fair-seeming to him.
But the bottom line is, yeah…
These enticing incentives mean the customer is paying less for the product or service offering when paid in full, up front. But the customer loses that price incentive and pays the normal (and higher) price, if he takes advantage of the option to split up the price into payments made over a longer period of time.
So, the discount/price incentive will no longer apply to the customer if he postpones payment.
That, my brothers and sisters in Islam, is the very essence of riba.
Scary? Yeah, it’s good to reflect on that one for a bit, ‘coz it’s a whammy for sure!
Some of you might have already popped on over to google searching for a fatwa to refute my “name-calling” here, and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll certainly find someone who’ll give you the excuse you want to continue doing business as usual. But… in the end, all matters return to Allah. So, we’d better have a more solid fallback to defend us from the anger of our Lord than “so-and-so said.”
I know many of you are pretty business savvy. In fact, I’d venture to say it’s very likely that most of you are more business savvy than me. So, considering how you’re all such a bright bunch, I’m sure you get how clear the scenario is here.
So, now it’s up to you.
It’s up to you to make the best transaction to secure your highest profit. And the most secure, trusted, and enduring profit is with Allah Subhana wa ta’ala.
“O you who believe! Be afraid of Allâh and give up what remains (due to you) from Ribâ (usury) (from now onward), if you are (really) believers.
And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allâh and His Messenger but if you repent, you shall have your capital sums. Deal not unjustly (by asking more than your capital sums), and you shall not be dealt with unjustly (by receiving less than your capital sums). (Al-Baqarah 2:278-279)
Yes, I know “everyone’s doing it.” But we are Muslims after all, and we are guided by something much greater than the doings of the general populace. That something is Islam. And the very essence of being Muslim, the very meaning of Islam is “submission.”
Our obligation then is not to follow the business trends of the masses or to imitate the doings of the general populace but to submit to the legislation – the commands and prohibitions – of our Lord and Creator, the One to Whom we will all be returned.
May Allahu Subhana wa ta’ala grant us all hearts that are submissive to Him and grant us success in this life and in the hereafter. Ameen