E-Book Share: A Concise Encyclopedia of Islam by Gordon Newby.

Consie Ency of IslamThis Concise Encyclopedia of Islam is meant to represent Islam’s diversity and offer the reader a short definition of major terms and introduce major figures. In writing this Encyclopedia, the writer has chosen to use the distinction that was made by the late M.G.S. Hodgson in his Venture of Islam, between those subjects that are “Islamic” and those that are, in his word, “Islamicate.” By “Islamic,” he meant those subjects that have to do with the religion, and by “Islamicate,” he meant those subjects that are products of the culture that Muslims, and Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus, and others living under Islam, have produced.

We speak of “Islamic science,” meaning the scientific advances during the time of the Western Middle Ages, but those scientific advances were a product of the interaction of Jews and Christians as well as Muslims living in Islamic countries.

The reality is, the religion of Islam contributed to the development of that and other branches of learning because Muslim rulers chose to sponsor learning as part of their vision of themselves as Muslims. However, the writer has chosen to leave the political and cultural material to others.

E-Book Share: The Arts of Islamic Civilization by Isma’il Raji al Faruqi

english_the_arts_of_islamic_civilization.pngThis is a paper which was originally published as chapter eight of The Cultural Atlas of Islam by Isma’il Raji al Faruqi and Lois Lamya’ al al Faruqi (1986), and formed part of a monumental and authoritative work presenting the entire worldview of Islam, its beliefs, traditions, institutions, and place in the world. Aside from the map illustrations, all other images have been updated and are not those of the original unless specified. Where the text refers to chapters these are to be found in the original work.

Zakat to Islamic School and Mosque, is it Valid?

Question
Is it permissible to give my zakat to any Islamic school or to my masjid for their expenses such as rent, utilities, renovation, etc?

Answer
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings are upon His Messenger. Indeed, it is the duty and responsibility of the rich Muslims of each community in the East or West to finance the mosques and Islamic schools. They should not, by any means, exploit zakat, the right of the poor, for such purposes, which may badly influence the poor reducing the amount of zakat that they receive.

In his response to this question, Dr. Monzer Kahf, a prominent economist and counselor, states,

“If the question is for America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the like, my answer is definitely NO. Mosques are always necessary for any Muslim community to maintain their religion and that of their children. The Shari`ah principle is that any Muslim community must have a mosque and other community facilities, and mosques should be established and spent on by members of the community outside the zakat which is a right of the poor and the needy.

In the past Muslims in these countries were very poor (students and poor Afro-American converts) and have no means and were endangered to lose their very religion, then the Fatwa was it is permissible on the ground that preservation of their religion is a part of “fi sabilil-llah” as an exception from the principle which prohibits using zakat for mosques.

Now, this exception does not apply anymore as Muslims in these countries have become well-to-do and able to spend on their mosques. It is the responsibility of the rich Muslims to spend on mosques in these countries not the responsibility of the poor because spending zakat on mosques means charging these expenses to the poor who have the right to this zakat.

As for schools, the matter is even stricter because educating Muslim children is the responsibility of their parents, more specifically their fathers; it is not the responsibility of the poor or even other members of the Muslim community.

Poor Muslim families who cannot afford Muslim schools fees may be paid from zakat on the basis of needs and poverty and they are of course free to use whatever they receive for food, school tuitions or any other expenses of their own. ZAKAT MUST NOT BE PAID TO THE SCHOOL FOR THESE FAMILIES.”

**Other scholars might have a different opinion on this topic, and I will tell it on another day.

And Allah Almighty knows best.

Prohibition of Gharar.

Literarily, the term Gharar refers to fraudulence, uncertainty, risk or hazard. Technically, Gharar is the unknown surrounding a financial transaction……..

Literarily, the term Gharar refers to fraudulence, uncertainty, risk or hazard. Technically, Gharar is the unknown surrounding a financial transaction.

Muslims scholars have identified two categories of Gharar, the first category is excessive and totally forbidden to deal with in Islamic transactions. The second category is minor, thus Shariah scholars tolerate this kind of Gharar.

The excessive Gharar was ruled as haram by many Hadiths, for example, Abu-Huraira reported that:

“The Prophet has forbidden the pebble sale and the Gharar sale”.

Gharar can take place in the contract itself or, under the contract subject matter. Firstly, Gharar can occur in the contract when the contracting parties do not discern if the investment will take place.

Secondly, the Gharar in the contract subject matter will arise when there is an ignorance of the goods sold, or the product characteristics such as the sort, amount, and identity are not identified. Gharar can also occur when there is uncertainty in the subject matter delivery or the sale of non-existent goods

Due to the Gharar prohibition, Muslim investors are not allowed to invest in derivatives, forwards and options sales since these transactions involve price differences, without real subject matter delivery. For instance, gharar occurs when a person tells another “I would sell you this house of mine at such price if a third person sold me his” and the buyer accepts the offer. It is a gharar sale because its consequence is not explicit.

However, gharar here does not relate to the object of the contract but to the contract itself because both the buyer and the seller do not know whether the sale will be concluded or not. This is due to the manner in which the contract has been concluded, namely, making it conditional upon a matter that may or may not obtain.

The Obligation of Choosing The Islamic Banking System.

Managing our wealth is an amanah (trust) that is truly significant in our lives. Failure in properly managing our wealth according to the guidance of the Shari’ah will incur severe consequences, whether in this world or the Hereafter…

Managing our wealth is an amanah (trust) that is truly significant in our lives. Failure in properly managing our wealth according to the guidance of the Shari’ah will incur severe consequences, whether in this world or the Hereafter.

Wealth management according to Shari’ah guidelines is by ensuring that all transactions pertaining to the wealth are done through lawful means. It is wajib (obligatory) upon us to ensure that all of our wealth is obtained through lawful sources and that they are utilized for halal (permissible) matters only.

In the hadith of Mu‘adh, the Prophet said (which mean):

“The feet of a slave will not move on the Day of Judgment until he has been questioned about four things: his body – how he used it, his life – how he spent it, his wealth – where he earned it and how he spent it, and his knowledge – how he acted upon it.”

Unfortunately, there are still Muslims that do not care much with regard to how their wealth is earned, such as transactions that are based on riba (usury or interest). There are many within our society that are still confused with the return earned from savings or transactions, whether it is deemed as riba or not, due to the lack of knowledge on whether such savings or loan was obtained through the Islamic banking system or riba-based system.

Verily the Islamic banking system is a system that is riba-free, void of elements of gharaar (uncertainty), and without oppression. It is truly different from the conventional banking system that is based on riba. Allah mentions in verse 275 of surah al-Baqarah (which mean):

“Those who consume interest cannot stand [on the Day of Resurrection] except as one stands who is being beaten by Satan into insanity. That is because they say, “Trade is [just] like interest.” But Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden interest. So whoever has received an admonition from his Lord and desists may have what is past, and his affair rests with Allah. But whoever returns to [dealing in interest or usury] – those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Baqarah, vese 275]

In a hadeeth narrated by Abdullah bin ‘Abbas, Rasulullah said (which mean):

“When adultery and interest will become rife in a community then they have drawn the wrath of Allah.” [Narrated by al-Hakim]

These two proofs have indicated that riba is prohibited by Allah so whoever is involved with riba in any form of transaction will incur the wrath of Allah.

It is wajib for all Muslims to opt and utilize the Islamic banking system for it has conditions that are to be fulfilled, namely:

1. The Islamic banking system was created based on a mu’ammalah (social dealings and relations) system that is built upon iman (belief) and taqwa of Allah as opposed to other banking systems that are based on profits alone, without adhering to the Shari’ah.

2. The Islamic banking system greatly emphasizes the very concept of rewards and sins in all of its transactions, which differs from the conventional banking system.

3. The Islamic banking institution utilizes the principle of aqad (contract) that is clear such as sale-purchase and investment to earn a profit, while other banking institutions solely use the loan concept that imposes riba to its customers purely to earn revenue.

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ood (which mean):

“The Messenger of Allah cursed the one who accepted usury, the one who paid it, the witness to it, and the one who recorded it.” [Narrated by Abu Dawud].

4. The profits earned by Islamic banking institutions are zakatable and it becomes wajib to have zakat collected from them, and benefited by qualified recipients (asnaf). On the contrary, profits from conventional banking institutions are not zakatable for it does not comply with the Shari’ah.

To ensure that Islamic banking system will always comply with the Shari’ah requirements in its transactions, the Central Bank of Malaysia has stipulated that every bank must have a scope of work that includes four main functions, namely Shari’ah Research, Shari’ah Review, Shari’ah Risk Management, and Shari’ah Audit.

Islamic banking institutions also must have a minimum of five (5) Shari’ah Committee Members who are independent and possess the necessary qualifications and expertise in the field of Shari’ah and Islamic Finance, in advising and ensuring that the system implemented complies with Shari’ah principles.

Therefore, let us fully support the Islamic banking system and ensure that our selves, our families, wealth, and finances are safe and attain the blessings from Allah.

Amil (Zakat Managers) Among Non-Muslims?

Amil or those who involved with the administration of zakat need to have the criteria and some kind of quality, among them, are; a mukallaf (religiously responsible), healthy body and knowledgeable about zakat matters. Amil is one of the asnaf which has been agreed upon without the dispute between ulama’ (scholars) because the Quranic verse has clearly stated….

Amil or those who involved with the administration of zakat need to have the criteria and some kind of quality, among them, are; a mukallaf (religiously responsible), healthy body and knowledgeable about zakat matters. Amil is one of the asnaf which has been agreed upon without the dispute between ulama‘ (scholars) because the Quranic verse has clearly stated this (Refer to the Qur’an, Surah At-Taubah [9]: 60).

However, there are some khilaf (dispute) on the appointment of amil zakat among non-Muslims. The two sides have two views in this regard:

First View:
Majority of ulama‘ from the schools of Hanafi, Maliki, Syafie and one of the narrations of Imam Ahmad that it is not permissible to grant zakat to non-Muslim amil. Al-Dusuqiyy in ‘Hashiyat al-Dusuqi Ala al-Sharh al-Kabir’ mentions:

Which means: “The scholars of the Maliki sect are of the view that non-Muslim appointments as amil are permissible. (However) His salaries should be taken from Baitulmal (treasurer) and not from zakat fund as they are not entitled to receive it” (Al-Dusuqiyy: 722)

This view is argued by the general argument prohibiting from appointing Non-Muslims to lead Muslims, as in the word of God in Al-Qur’an:

Which means: “And Allah will not give way to the unbelievers to rule over the believers”. (Al-Qur’an, Surah Al-Nisa’ [5]: 141)

They also say that between the conditions to be amil must be trusted, thus the disbelievers are not eligible to hold the wealth that only devoted to Muslims.

Second View:
This view is the opinion that should (may) appoint non-Muslims as amil zakat, this is from the second narration of Imam Ahmad. Ibn Qudamah has explained (meaning):

“From Imam Ahmad there is a narrative that allows the amil from non-Muslims based on the general pronouncement of  العاملين عليها, it includes the infidels and Muslims, this is because what amil is taking from zakat’s fund is a reward for his work, then there is no barrier to take it like other things” (Ibn Qudamah, al-Mughniyy: 654).

They argue with the generality pronouncing the word of ‘amil’ in the verse asnaf which means all those who are in charge of amil are entitled to zakat’s fund even in whatever capacity. They explain that amil only takes the wages of his work, so he does not need to be banned from taking his wage (Al-Dusuqiyy).

Among the scholars of the Syafie sect who had the same view is Ibn Hajar al-Haithamiyy(Fath al-Bari Sharh Sahih Bukhariy: 329). He mentioned (meaning):

“Zakat is not given to non-Muslims either under the asnaf muallaf or not. Yes, they are allowed to work as clerks, drivers, security guards or the like, even though they are Non-Muslims but are entitled to the salaries from the fund of asnaf amil, as it is calculated as a paid work, not as an asnaf itself”.

Conclusion
To apply this requirement in today’s time, it requires some review on the form of work can be done by non-muslim amil. There is no work that can’t be given to non-Muslim except only to the highly sensitive task which only Muslims can do. However, some job which has no direct relationship with the collection and distributions of zakat, such as front desk officers, regular clerks and general task such as postman, drivers and so on.

In conclusion, originally, amil should be selected among Muslims. However, in certain circumstances, non-Muslims can be given this task if the work is not directly related to the collection or distribution of zakat. Although there is room for non-Muslims to be appointed as amil, however, the authorities, especially the zakat institution, should ensure that this space is not openly unattended for them to manage matters pertaining to Islamic religious affairs including zakat and so forth.

Starting the Development of an Interest-Free Economy (Part 3 – The Last Part)

One set of alternatives consists of the utilization of ideal Islamic financial instruments, such as musharaka, mudaraba, etc., which have the ability to change totally the system of interest-based economy, to curb the evils originating from it and to bring about a just and equitable system of distribution…..

One set of alternatives consists of the utilization of ideal Islamic financial instruments, such as musharaka, mudaraba, etc., which have the ability to change totally the system of interest-based economy, to curb the evils originating from it and to bring about a just and equitable system of distribution.

But since the successful operation of these ideal Islamic instruments requires drastic changes in the overall economic framework, which is beyond the control of individual Islamic banks, the latter cannot, for the time being, restrict their activities to these ideal alternatives only.

Keeping this in view, the Shari’ah Boards have, at the same time, suggested another set of alternative financial instruments, such as murabaha and ijara (leasing), etc., which are by no means ideal solutions, but, is designed to fulfil some Shari’ah requirements, can be adopted as a transitory measure.

It is these instruments which sometimes tend to resemble interest-based instruments and are criticised for having brought no practical change to the banking system as a whole. The criticism is both justified and unrealistic; justified in the sense that these instruments are not ideal alternatives for interest from the Shari’ah point of view and do not affect a radical change in the present banking system, but, at the same time, unrealistic for two reasons:

  • Firstly, they are unrealistic because these instruments, despite their apparent resemblance to interest-bearing modes of finance, have certain major distinctive features as compared to them. For example, the modes of murabaha or ijara (leasing) financings, if applied in strict conformity with Shari’ah requirements, have some element of risk for the financier, which, according to the Shari’ah, is the basic condition for making a valid profit. Interest, on the other hand, has no element of risk. Hence, it is not permissible under the Shari’ah.
  • Secondly, it should not be overlooked that in an atmosphere where the interest-based system governs the field of finance, it would be unrealistic to expect that the present system could be switched overnight to an ideal Islamic system. The move towards interest-free banking will have to pass through a transitory period in which some temporary devices may be necessary to escape from the purely interest-bearing modes of finance. These devices should not be rejected or condemned for their not being the ideal alternatives to interest, because, having several distinguishing features, they can free banking transactions from at least the clearly prohibited elements of riba, qimar (gambling) etc. Therefore, this achievement should not be undervalued in the present circumstances.

But two important points must be kept in mind. First, the devices of murabaha or ijara cannot be justified unless their essential ingredients, as enunciated by the Shari’ah, are fully observed. It should not be merely a matter of change of nomenclature.

For example, murabaha is the sale of some commodity on an agreed ratio of profit added to the cost. So there should be a commodity purchased by the bank then sold to the customer after obtaining ownership and possession. The possession of goods need not be physical in the strict sense. A constructive possession which passes on the benefits, risks and liabilities of the commodity to the buyer may thus be sufficient. But there should be a gap between purchasing the commodity and selling it to the customer, and the risk of owning the commodity during this period should be borne with all its basic components and all its essential consequences.

Secondly, it should never escape attention that these devices have been adopted only for a transitory period. They are neither the ideal Islamic modes of finance not the ultimate goal to be achieved by the Islamic banks. The banks are under an obligation to advance towards the ideal Islamic modes of finance through musharaka and mudaraba and to minimise the transitory devices through a gradual process.

28th-General-Meeting-of-Central-Board-for-Islamic-Banks-of-BangladeshThe Shari’ah Boards of the Islamic banks are constituted to supervise the activities of the Islamic banks from these two angles.

In order to ensure that the transactions effected by the Islamic banks conform to the rules of the Shari’ah, the Shari’ah Boards of several Islamic banks have drafted agreements for musharaka, mudaraba, murabaha, ijara (leasing), wakala (agency) and similar types of contracts. The management of the banks is bound to follow these Modal Agreements in each of their transactions. If some problem arises in applying these agreements and some amendments are needed, they are expected to bring the problems to the notice of the Shari’ah Boards and explain the practical difficulties they are facing. The Board, after obtaining the relevant information on the subject, will deliver its fatwa (decree) which the bank must obey to solve the problem. The Shari’ah Boards of Islamic banks have issued a large number of fatwas dealing with the current practical problems of Islamic banks. The fatwas of some Shari’ah Boards are available in printed form, while those of most of the others are available at the relevant Islamic banks.

As mentioned in previous part, the questions placed before the Shari’ah Boards relate mostly to modern day-to-day problems which are not expressly mentioned in the original sources of Islamic Fiqh. To find their solutions need innovative thinking by Shari’ah scholars.

In the light of the settled principles of the Shari’ah, it requires the exercise of some sort of ijtihad (independent judgement), in which the opinions of the scholars may differ. The members of the Boards, often specialising in different areas of Islamic learning and sometimes representing different countries, settle these differences through an open discussion and exchange of views. On important problems, thorough research is undertaken and detailed articles are written, resulting in valuable additions to the richness of the literature of Islamic Fiqh. After a careful examination of the relevant issues, resolutions are adopted either unanimously or by the majority.

As the Shari’ah Boars of different Islamic banks consist of different scholars, sometimes resolutions issued by one Board may differ from resolutions of others. To resolve these differences, the International Association of Islamic Banks has established a higher Shari’ah Board. The Shari’ah Boards of Islamic banks are rendering a great service to the cause of interest-free banking. Without their effective guidance, Islamic banks will not be able to achieve the goal of Islamization of the banking system.

End of Discussion.

Starting the Development of an Interest-Free Economy (Part 2)

The basic resources of Islamic law or fiqh do not provide express answers to each and every problem emerging out of modern conditions. However, they have laid down a set of principles on the basis of which one can find the answer to questions arising out of new problems. But the application of those principles to new situations requires a deep study of both Islamic jurisprudence and the modern pattern of human life. The exercise can only be undertaken by those individuals who are well-versed in Islamic jurisprudence and are also well-acquainted with modern economic problems…..

The basic resources of Islamic law or fiqh do not provide express answers to each and every problem emerging out of modern conditions. However, they have laid down a set of principles on the basis of which one can find the answer to questions arising out of new problems. But the application of those principles to new situations requires a deep study of both Islamic jurisprudence and the modern pattern of human life. The exercise can only be undertaken by those individuals who are well-versed in Islamic jurisprudence and are also well-acquainted with modern economic problems.

Thus, the establishment of an Islamic order in modern banking requires a joint effort by bankers and economists on the one hand and scholars of the Shari’ah on the other.

Such a joint effort was made possible by establishing Shari’ah supervisory boards in the new interest-free banks. These boards consist of eminent Shari’ah scholars from different Muslim countries. The bankers engaged in Islamic banking operations bring their problems before these boards, which find solutions for them in the light of the principles of the Shari’ah. The resolutions of the Shari’ah boards are binding on the Islamic banks, which are expected to carry out their business in strict conformity with them.

28th-General-Meeting-of-Central-Board-for-Islamic-Banks-of-BangladeshThe Shari’ah Boars of Islamic banks have opened new horizons for research, both in Islamic jurisprudence and in the banking system.

In the field of Islamic jurisprudence, they have introduced new dimensions and have made valuable additions to the juristic discussions available in the classical books of fiqh.

As Islamic fiqh relating to mu’amalah has never been applied to practical life on a collective scale in the last few centuries, it has not evolved to a point where it can deal with modern day-to-day problems in the socio-economic fields. No doubt, there have been some valuable attempts made by individual Shari’ah scholars to respond to the modern challenges, yet, having no practical value in the social set-up of their respective countries, their ideas remained only academic and theoretical and were never tested and applied in practical life.

Thanks to the Islamic banks and their Shari’ah Boards, these new ideas have now been put into practice, thus accelerating the evolution of Islamic Fiqh in the economic, financial and commercial fields.

The Shari’ah Boards of the Islamic banks are fully conscious of the fact these banks are operating in isolation from the mainstream of the conventional financial institutions, which have the backing and force the governmental and international support. Therefore, unless the interest-free economic system is established, or, at least, recognized, by the state agencies, the Islamic financial institutions will continue to face difficulties and will not be able to work with full liberty to amend their operations according to the exemplary principles of the Shari’ah. That is why the Shari’ah Boards have proposed two sets of alternatives by which the Islamic banks may abolish interest from their operations…

End of Part 2. Will continue on Part 3.

Starting the Development of an Interest-Free Economy (Part 1)

The last four decades have witnessed a great eagerness in the Islamic world to establish an interest-free economy. Since the Western countries introduced into the Islamic world a capitalist economy based on interest, a small group of people

The last four decades have witnessed a great eagerness in the Islamic world to establish an interest-free economy.

Since the Western countries introduced into the Islamic world a capitalist economy based on interest, a small group of people in the Islamic countries have insisted that interest on commercial loans is not ‘usury’ as prohibited by Islam. They argue that credit is a necessity in the present-day economic system, based as it is on the principle of free enterprise and this is so especially in the developing countries. The wide range of necessary economic activities cannot be carried out on the principle of qard hassan (interest-free loans) and Islam should not interfere with these economic activities.

This proposition has opened the door for debate on the question of whether commercial interest falls within the ambit of riba or not. It attracted the attention of scholars throughout the Islamic world and the question was thoroughly examined in seminars, conferences, study circles and research institutes. Being engaged in this debate, which continued up to the 1960s, Muslim scholars could not pay due attention to working out a banking system which would operate without interest and substitute for the present modes of financing those conforming to the Islamic Shari’ah principles.

Following an intensive debate between two sides, it was concluded that commercial interest was not allowed under the Shari’ah as it fell within the definition of riba, which is strictly prohibited by the Qur’an and Sunnah. This view was accepted at the level of the Shari’ah scholars in a large number of seminars and also gained wide acceptance among the majority of Muslim economists.

What can be regarded as the final verdict in this respect is the resolution adopted by the Islamic Fiqh Academy of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in its second session, held at Jeddah which was attended by outstanding Shari’ah scholars representing more than 45 Muslim countries. They unanimously adopted a resolution that banking interest was riba and that Muslim states must try to abolish interest from their economy and base the transactions of their banks and financial institutions on Islamic modes of finance only.

When the prohibition on banking interest was, by and large, accepted in the Muslim community, several attempts were made to establish Islamic banks and financial institutions which could provide a practical example of Islamic modes of finance. The task was not easy. The difficulties in this respect were manifold. On the one hand, the Islamic banks were expected to provide all the basic services were to conform to the Islamic injunctions. On the other hand, most of these services in their present form had no precedents in the heritage of Islamic fiqh…

End of Part 1. Continue on Part 2.