The Fallacy of the ‘Islamic Bank

By Umar Ibrahim Vadillo

Umar Ibrahim Vadillo - holding a Gold Dinar

The so-called “Islamic bank’ is a usurious institution contrary to Islam. The ‘Islamic bank” is an absurd attempt to resolve, as was done in the case of Christianity, the unswerving opposition of Islam to usury for fourteen centuries.

Since its origin, the ‘Islamic bank’ has been patronized and promoted by usurers. Their only intention was to incorporate the thousand million Muslims of the world–who in general would scornfully avoid using any banking or usurious institution–into the international financial and monetary system. The artificial creation by the colonial powers of the so called ‘Islamic states’, itself a contradiction in terms, whose character is markedly anti-lslamic, was the historical result of the end of territorial colonization and the beginning of the financial neo-colonialism.

The universal establishment of the western constitutional model (the model of the French revolution) brings with it the establishment of artificial and unnatural boundaries, the creation of a repressive ministerial bureaucracy, the exacting of taxes, the imposition of artificially legalized money and the legalization of usury (the banking system) – measures which are all profoundly contrary to Islam. The Islamic Bank is thus nothing more than a typically degenerate and belated product of the so-called ‘Islamic states’.

In order to speak on the “Islamic Bank”, the new science of so-called ‘Islamic economics’ has emerged from the American and European universities. However fallacious these two self-supporting concepts of economics are concepts regarded with scorn by the Muslims of traditional education they have served as a justification for the new class of state functionaries and bureaucrats who have come to constitute a kind of ‘Islamic modernism’. A few years of mediocre education in western universities will not allow many of the Islamic economists to discover that the foundations of economics have been shattered as a science and in practice in the very Europe which saw it come into existence.

The rationalistic framework of the positive sciences which has been called into question in Europe has been currently defended by those neo-bureaucrats who are still fascinated by their years of education in the West. Even though the sincere, albeit naive, faith of the majority of those who participate in these modernist movements cannot be denied, time and a greater maturity has shown them the bitter side of the ideological and scientific modernism in which they have placed their trust.

The return of the Islamic tradition has not only been the best antidote against this modernism in those Muslim countries but in the hand of a new generation of Muslims in the West it has also resulted in the transcending of modernism and brought about the culmination of our western civilization which today is of {universal character.}

In contrast to the modernist confusion, the position of the Shari’a of Islam clear and does not admit any controversy.
Allah says in the Qur’an:

“Oh you who believe! Have fear of Allah and give up what remains of what is due (to you) of Usury. If you do not, then take notice of war (against you) from Allah and His Messenger.” {Qur’an 2,278}

From this it is clear that the Muslims must not only abandon Usury but that he is also obliged to fight against usury. The ‘Islamic bank’ is a totally crypto-usurious institution and like all the other usurious constitutions must be rejected and fought. Besides the falsehood of its very name we can enumerate at least three reasons why its practice is considered usurious.

A. The creation and utilization of artificial paper-money whose use is a confined monopoly.

The Shari’a prohibits the forceful imposition of one single money on the market; what is explicitly stated is that money can be any kind of merchandise which is socially accepted as a means of exchange. If besides this we add to this the character of monopoly inherent in a (paper-)money — without any value as a commodity — whose value is imposed by the state, then it becomes clear the manipulation and acceptance of this system has nothing to do with the deen of Islam. Moreover given that there does not exist a single state in the world where the monetary system of paper money is not applied then this is sufficient reason for affirming that the Muslims live in a world where authentic Islamic governance is absent.

There exists no justification of a strategic or a political kind in the imposition of paper money as a prop for a possible Islamic government since this imposition is based on a deception of the people who support this government: moreover it is a contradiction that a just and equitable government finance itself by means of robbing from the very people whom it is governing.

The use of paper money by any institution is contrary to the nature of Islam. In the case of the bank however there is an added element to this contradiction — namely the capacity of the bank to freely create paper money by means of credit — which is independent of whether this paper-money is used for honest business or usurious loans. The use of credit to artificially expand the monetary resources is emphatically forbidden in the Shari’a.

“It is not permitted to pay a loan by asking the lender to receive payment from a third person who owes money to the lender….”
Consequently it is not allowed to settle a debt with another debt.

“It is not permitted that you sell something that you do not possess on the understanding that you will buy it and will give it to the buyer.” (‘Al-Risala’ of Ibn Abi Zaid al-Qayrawani, chap. 34).

Imam Malik says, “A person should not buy a debt due to another person, be he present or absent, without the confirmation of the person who owes the debt. He is buying something which has not been guaranteed to him and so if the contract is not completed what he has paid loses its value. This is an uncertain transaction and is not good.” (‘Al Muwatta’ of Imam Malik, chap. 31).

The confirmation of a debt is an indispensable condition for its transfer; the confirmation occurs with the guaranteeing that the debt can be and will be paid. In other words notice will be given that someone with a debt which is unpayable will be able to transfer it to another person. Not even in debts of sale is the lack of confirmation of guarantee permitted.

Imam Malik distinguishes between someone who becomes indebted for something that he possesses and someone who becomes indebted for something which he does not have in his possession, this latter kind of debt is disapproved of since it leads to usury and fraud (‘Al-Muwatta’, chap. 31), like in the case of the banks.

The Shari’a prohibits the commercialization or multiplication of a debt without the means to guarantee it. Thus, the banking business as such cannot exist in Islam; the only function it could have would be to restrict itself to being an institution for transferring money but without the capacity to expand the amount of credit.

B) The usurping of part ownership

The second reason why the Islamic bank is a fallacy is the constitutive structure of its ownership. In Islam the constitution of any business must guarantee the identification of ownership and the respect of this ownership. There thus exist two forms of constitution for a business by two of more persons.

1. The loan (or qirad ) by which the investor transfers the property of their investment to an agent who manages the business.
2. Co-ownership in which all the investors have made a prior agreement as to the execution of a specific business (by means of a contract) and in which ownership is based on equality of conditions between all the co-owners.
The structure of the ‘Islamic banks’ is based not on the strictness and exactness of the Shari’a but rather on the model of the corporation in the West in which the exercise of property is not carried out by those who –nominally –are the owners but is carried out by means of a system of usurpation which we can call by the majorities’.

This means that the innocent investor who takes part in this type of business contract has no protection of his investment since neither establishes a business loan (qirad ), in accordance with the way this type of contract is defined, nor is he able to make decisions with respect to the very business in which he is a co-own.owner (unless this same person is the majority) since this is not decided beforehand in the contract.

Thus this type of contract is not a business contract but a sophisticated and unprotected surrender of one’s right of ownership. Whoever is the majority at any one time, then that person (or group of persons) and only that person is the authentic owner of the business. That is to say, in accordance with our understanding only the person who can decide is the owner in fact. For this reason the system of majority is neither co-ownership, Or, as we shall see, a loan.

The business loan (qirad ) is not a loan of money for a specific period made without knowing what is going to be invested in, but rather it is made for the establishment of a specific business:

Imam Malik says, “It is not permitted for the agent to stipulate that the use of the money of the qirad is his for a certain number of years and that it cannot be withdrawn from him during this period of time.” He says, “It is not correct that the investor stipulates that the money of the qirad should not be returned for a certain number of years which are specified since the qirad is not for a specific time.” (‘Al-Muwatta’ of Imam Malik, chap. 31).

The contract of the business loan on qirad implies the specifying of the person who is the agent or new owner and on whom the total responsibility of the investment rests. Thus the loan cannot be established by an indeterminate majority or with the persons who represent it if they, between them, form a single co-ownership) without jeopardizing the exercise of co-ownership of the minority co-owners, who are bound by the decisions (of the majority) despite disapproving of them.

This means that firstly before someone invests in a business it has to be known what that business is, prior to investment (according to basic conditions which arc made known in a reasonable way beforehand, and which are complete,with w condition wanting in any way); secondly it means that the person (or persons) who is the decision maker in such a business is the owner (or co-owners) and that reciprocally only the owner (or the owners) decides with respect to the business;
Thirdly, that in every co-ownership the owners enjoy the same status (the fulfillment of the contract which they have and agreed to) even though they participate to different degrees (such that the profits are distributed proportionally); and fourthly it means that those contracts in which, without there occurring any loan, the owner is deprived of the right of ownership to exercise control, then in these contracts there is a usurpation of ownership.

In short, the structure of co-ownership of the ‘Islamic banks’ in which the shareholders are invited to participate is not acceptable ; in Islam since it consists of an unjustified usurpation of the ownership of the minority shareholders in favor of the executive council or administrator which represents the majority.

C. The payment of the usurious interest

Due to the very structures and the arena in which the ‘Islamic banks’ deals in a contract , fluctuation in value is generated which affect the individual transactions the bank makes. As a result an contracts made by the ‘ Islamic bank’ are usurious. Short of removing ourselves completely from the monetary system then we are of necessity justified in affirming that every commercial contract made with in this system is already usurious since the values makes of one of the commodities which is interchanged, namely completely the paper money is being increased by pressure , force and the state monopoly. The usurious nature of these institutions is much deeper however.

Every loan of a commodity open to devaluation and whose value was superior when it was received, is usurious. In general a loan cannot be made of a commodity whose value is changeable. If however a devaluation happens unexpectedly the payment of a compensation equal to the devaluation of the lent merchandise will have to be established (and this cannot be confused with the interest). This fact denies the validity of the principle of ‘interest-free’ on which ‘Islamic banks’ are based, since paper money cannot be taken as a authentic money with a stable value. Every time this bank borrows paper money for a time, it gains the devaluation suffered by this money during the time of the loan. It is like the typical usurious trick which consisted of the loaning of wheat when it has limited value (during harvest) and stipulating that it be given back when wheat has attained a better price on the market (several months after the harvest).

This however does not mean that the taking of an interest which is equal to inflation makes the operation of loans in paper-money permissible since this commodity can never become the object of a free and fluctuating evaluation.
The payment of dividends, except when considered as the sharing out of the profits of the business and when accepted unanimously by ad the co-owners is payment of usurious interest The Shari’a contains no doubt in this respect: the only possible justification for the increase or decrease at the time of the return of the loan is the resulting profit or loss of the business, connected with that loan. None of the parties can reserve the use of a pan of the profits without them having been previously distributed:

“The person who makes an investment cannot stipulated that he retain part of the profit without sharing it with the agent; likewise the agent cannot stipulate that he retain a pan of the profit without sharing .” (‘Al-Muwatta’ of Imam Malik, chap. 31)

This however is what happens when the agent does not distribute all the profits but rather an estimation of them. The profits are simply the difference between the value (or market price) of the invested goods and the value of the goods and the value of the goods obtained by the business. Then the results or profits are not an ‘objective’ estimation but rather a demonstrable reality.

It may be however that the parties to the business contract want to extend the contract and continue the profit already made by establishing a ‘mutually acceptable’ payment as if it were the same as partial payments of the total profit. But this ‘mutually acceptable’ payment means that if even one of the parties was not in agreement with the proposition to continue the business or not in agreement with the calculation of the profit which has been ‘objectively’ estimated by someone — or even a majority of the co-owners — then he can, by exercising his right of ownerships dissolve the business and verify– by the sales of the business goods–if the estimate was correct or not.

This will not violate the right of ownership of the rest of the co-owners since the contract will have been completed; besides this can be continued by buying it again from the sale of liquidation of the person who does not want to continue or who does not accept the profits which have been estimated. The calculation of the resulting profits is logically identical for all types of business whether they be established by way of a business loan (or qirad ) or as co-ownership. The qirad in general is established for a particular business with a particular person, where the results are clearly defined but it is not to be thrown to a basket of other business that the investor cannot clearly identify in full, that is not only the nature of the business and the identity of the agent but specially the exact results of the business.

In short the system of calculation or estimation of the dividends of the modem corporations adopted by the ‘Islamic banks’, are not the actual resulting profits of the business and as such, by their excessive estimation or underestimation, they represent a usurious interest. Even besides the fact that this estimation cannot possibly always be correct, there is the fact that the very contract itself is unacceptable, since in the type of contract that the corporation make with the shareholders the fact that the latter have to renounce their right of co-ownership without even being able to refuse what they consider to be an incorrect estimation represents an illegitimate usurpation of ownership.

Usury has corrupted the market, transforming it into a usurious system. There is no way of establishing an (equitable) market without going outside of the modem monetary and financial systems. All attempts to recuperate an (equitable) Islamic market with (equitable) Islamic business and transactions must be based on the Qur’anic principle of Equity (al-‘Adl){Qur’an 2, 282} which is also defined in the Shari’a. Islam, besides being the situation of the Muslims themselves, a situation based on the Qur’an and our tradition of fiqh, is and has been for centuries an impregnable fortress Of guidance and source of unparalleled knowledge for the Muslims. The ‘Islamic bank’ is a Trojan horse which has been infiltrated into Dar al-lslam.

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~ by The Murabit Blog on 12/02/2009.

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