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Last Updated: 2012/03/14
Summary of question
There is a company which makes money off of selling its products. Each customer needs to sell this product to three other people and this process goes on. Is such an income allowed in Islam?
There is company which makes money by selling a health product to individuals and then each one of those individuals should sell to 3 other individuals and this process is continuous. In this \'\'pyramid scheme\'\' each person who is closest to the top of the pyramid receives more income based on the number of people who are participating and selling. Is there any Islamic legal issue with making income in this way?
Concise answer

The response of the grand maraji' to your inquiry is as follows:[1]

It is permissible for the person directly involved in selling the goods through real transactions to get his share for intermediation, but in unreal transactions (where there is no true buying or selling) and for those who have done nothing, it is impermissible to get money, meaning that receiving money is impermissible for those who get it just because of the increase in members in a pyramidal scheme, regardless of whether it is by the means of presenting goods, services, collecting membership fees, marketing or other similar methods (domestic or international and regardless of under what title or pretext).


[1] Inquiries from the offices of the Grand Ayatullahs: Khamenei, Sistani, Makarim Shirazi, Saafi Golpaygani‌ (may Allah prolong their lives), by IslamQuest.


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