A leading cleric in Saudi Arabia has denounced all-you-can-eat buffets because customers are not told how much food they will get.
Sheikh Saleh Al Fawzan, a member of the Saudi government’s Council of Senior Scholars, said buffets and brunches are un-Islamic as the customer is buying “the unknown”. He denounced “a phenomenon in some restaurants where owners tell their customers: eat what you like from the displayed food and pay a lump sum”.
“This is unknown and the unknown cannot be sold until it is defined and identified,” Sheikh Saleh said in a statement on his website.
The scholar said restaurant staff are misleading customers with this approach.
However, he also rejected media reports that he had issued a fatwa against all restaurant buffets that offer an open menu.
Nasif Kayed, managing director of the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in Dubai, said Islam is very careful to ensure individuals are protected from falling victim to cheating.
Kayed said: “Say, for example, you pay for a seafood buffet, but find there is only fish to eat. That is not a seafood buffet, that’s a fish buffet.”
He said there is a science to trade, and under Islam it’s important to ensure the customer knows what they are getting in advance.
Offering an example, Kayed said: “Some time ago, Etisalat offered subscribers a chance to win prizes by sending a text. However, the real price of sending the text was not known – they did not inform the person in advance of what they were buying, so it was withdrawn.”