Murabaha | Wikipedia audio article


Murabaḥah, murabaḥa or murâbaḥah (Arabic:
مرابحة‎, derived from ribh Arabic: ربح‎, meaning profit) was originally
a term of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) for a sales contract where the buyer and seller
agree on the markup (profit) or “cost-plus” price for the item(s) being sold. In recent decades it has become a term for
a very common form of Islamic (i.e. “shariah compliant”) financing, where the price is
marked-up in exchange for allowing the buyer to pay over time — for example with monthly
payments (a contract with deferred payment being known as bai-muajjal). Murabaha financing is similar to a rent-to-own
arrangement in the non-Muslim world, with the intermediary (i.e. the lending bank) retaining
ownership of the item being sold until the loan is paid in full. There are also Islamic investment funds and
sukuk (Islamic bonds) that use murabahah contracts.The purpose of murabaha is to finance a purchase
without involving interest payments, which most Muslims (particularly most scholars)
consider riba (usury) and thus haram (forbidden). Murabaha has come to be “the most prevalent”
or “default” type of Islamic finance.A proper murâbaḥah transaction differs from conventional
interest-charging loans in several ways. The buyer/borrower pays the seller/lender
at an agreed upon higher price, instead of interest charges, but makes a religiously
permissible “profit on the sale of goods”. The seller/financer must take actual possession
of the good before selling it to the customer; and must assume “any liability from delivering
defective goods”. Sources differ as to whether the seller is
permitted to charge extra when payments are late, with some authors stating any late fees
ought to be donated to charity, or not collected unless the buyer has “deliberately refused”
to make a payment. For the rate of markup, murabaha contracts
“may openly use” riba interest rates such as LIBOR, “as a benchmark”, a practice approved
of by the scholar Taqi Usmani.Conservative scholars promoting Islamic finance consider
murabaha to be a “transitory step” towards a “true profit-and-loss-sharing mode of financing”,
and a “weak” or “permissible but undesirable” form of finance to be used where profit-and-loss-sharing
is “not practicable.” Critics/skeptics complain/note that in practice
most “murabaḥah” transactions are merely cash-flows between banks, brokers and borrowers,
with no buying or selling of commodities; that the profit or mark-up is based on the
prevailing interest rate used in haram lending by the non-Muslim world; that “the financial
outlook” of Islamic murabaha financing and conventional debt/loan financing is “the same”,
as is most everything else besides the terminology used.==Religious justification==
While orthodox Islamic scholars have expressed a lack of enthusiasm for murabaha transactions,
calling them “no more than a second best solution” (Council of Islamic Ideology) or a “borderline
transaction” (Islamic scholar Taqi Usmani), nonetheless they are defended as Islamically
permitted. According to Taqi Usmani, the reference to
permitted “trade” or “trafficking” in Quran aya 2:275:
“… they say, ‘Trafficking (trade) is like usury,’ [but] God has permitted trafficking,
and forbidden usury ..” refers to credit sales such as murabaha, the
“forbidden usury” refers to charging extra for late payment (late fees), and the “they”
refers to non-Muslims who didn’t understand why if one was allowed both were not:
the objection of the infidels … was that when they increase the price at the initial
stage of sale, it has not been held as prohibited but when the purchaser fails to pay on the
due date, and they claim an additional amount for giving him more time, it is termed as
“riba” and haram. The Holy Qur’an answered this objection by
saying: “Allah has allowed sale and forbidden riba.” Usmani states that while it may appear to
some people that allowing a buyer more time to pay for some product/commodity (deferred
payment) in exchange for their paying a higher price is effectively the same as paying interest
on a loan, this is incorrect. In fact, just as a buyer may pay more for
a product/commodity when the seller has a cleaner shop or more courteous staff, so too
the buyer may pay more when given more time to complete payment for that product or commodity. When this happens, the extra they pay is not
riba but just “an ancillary factor to determining the price”. In such a case, according to Usmani, the “price
is against a commodity and not against money” — and so permitted in Islam. When a credit transaction is made without
the purchase of a specific commodity or product, (i.e. a loan is made charging interest), the
added charge for deferred payment is for “nothing but time”, and so is forbidden riba. However according to another Islamic finance
promoter—Faleel Jamaldeen — “murabaha payments represent debt” and because of that are not
“negotiable or tradable” as Islamic finance instruments, making them (according to Jamaldeen)
unpopular among investors.Hadith also supports use of credit-sales transactions such as murabaḥa. Another scholar, M.O.Farooq, states “it is
well-known and supported by many hadiths that the Prophet had entered into credit-purchase
transactions (nasi’ah) and also that he paid more than the original amount” in his repayment.Usmani
states that “this position” is accepted “unanimously” by the “four [ Sunni ] schools” of Islamic
law and “the majority” of the Muslim jurists. Murabahah and related fixed financing has
been approved by a number of government reports in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on how
to eliminate Interest. Late paymentUsmani presents a theory of why
sellers are allowed to charge for providing credit to the lender/buyer, but are guilty
of riba when charging for late payment. In a true (non-riba) murâbaḥah transaction
(Usmani states) “the whole price … is against a commodity and not against money” and so
“… once the price is fixed, it relates to the commodity, and not to the time”. Consequently “the price will remain the same
and can never be increased by the seller.” If the price had “been against time”, (which
is forbidden) “it might have been increased, if the seller allows … more time” for repayment
when the bill is past due.(Usmani and other Islamic finance scholars agree that not being
able to penalize a lender/buyer for late payment has led to late payments in murâbaḥah and
other Islamic finance transactions. Usmani states that a “problem” of murabahah
financing is that “if the client defaults in payment of the price at the due date, the
price cannot be increased”. According to one source (Mushtak Parker),
Islamic financial institutions “have long tried to grapple with the issue of delayed
payments or defaults, but thus far there is no universal consensus across jurisdictions
in this respect.”)==
Islamic finance, use, variations==Limits of use in fiqhIn its 1980 Report on
the Elimination of Interest from the Economy, the Council of Islamic Ideology of Pakistan
stated that murabahah should be undertaken only when the borrower wants
to borrow to purchase a some item must involve
the item being purchased by the bank; coming under the ownership and possession
of the bank; which must assume the risk for that item;
the item then being sold to the customer through a valid sale;
be used to the “minimum extent” and only in cases where profit and loss sharing
is not practicable.Murâbaḥah is one of three types of bayu-al-amanah (fiduciary sale),
requiring an “honest declaration of cost”. (The other two types are tawliyah—sale at
cost—and wadiah—sale at specified loss.) According to Taqi Usmani “in exceptional cases”
an Islamic bank or financial institution may lend cash to the customer for a murâbaḥah,
but this is when the customer is acting as an agent of the bank in buying the good the
customer needs financed. [W]here direct purchase from the supplier
is not practicable for some reason, it is also allowed that he makes the customer himself
his agent to buy the commodity on his behalf. In this case the client first purchases the
commodity on behalf of his financier and takes its possession as such. Thereafter, he purchases the commodity from
the financier for a deferred price. The idea that the seller may not use murâbaḥah
if profit-sharing modes of financing such as mudarabah or musharakah are practicable,
is supported by other scholars that those in the Council of Islamic Ideology. Limits of use in practiceBut these involve
risks of loss, profit-sharing modes of financing cannot guarantee banks income. Murabahah, with its fixed margin, offers the
seller (i.e. the bank/financier) a more predictable income stream. One estimate is that 80% of Islamic lending
is by murabahah. M. Kabir Hassan reports that murabaha accounts
are quite profitable. As of 2005, “the average cost efficiency”
for murabaha was “74%, whereas average profit efficiency” even higher at 84%. Hassan states, “although Islamic banks are
less efficient in containing cost, they are generally efficient in generating profit.”Islamic
banker and author Harris Irfan writes that use of murabaha “has become so distorted from
its original intent that it has become the single most common method of funding inter-bank
liquidity and corporate loans in the Islamic finance industry.” A number of economists have noted the dominance
of murabahah in Islamic finance, despite its theological inferiority to profit and loss
sharing. One scholar has coined the term “the murabaha
syndrome” to describe this.The accounting treatment of murâbaḥah, and its disclosure
and presentation in financial statements, vary from bank to bank. If the exact cost of the item(s) cannot be
or are not ascertained, they are sold on the basis of musawamah (bargaining). Different banks use this instrument in varying
ratios. Typically, banks use murabaha in asset financing,
property, microfinance and commodity import-export. The International Monetary Fund reports that,
Murâbaḥah transactions are “widely used to finance international trade, as well as
for interbank financing and liquidity management through a multistep transaction known as tawarruq,
often using commodities traded on the London Metal Exchange” (LME).The basic murabaha transaction
is a cost-plus-profit purchase where the item the bank purchases is something the customer
wants but does not have cash at the time to buy directly. However, there are other murabaha transactions
where the customer wants/needs cash and the product/commodity the bank buys is a means
to an end. (Thus violating the requirement spelled out
by Usmani and others.)===Variations===
In addition to being used by Islamic banks, murabahah contracts have been used by Islamic
investment funds (such as SHUAA Capital of Saudi Arabia and Al Bilad Investment Company),
and sukuk (also called Islamic bonds)(an example being a 2005 sukuk issued by Arcapita Bank
sukuk in 2005).====Bay’ bithaman ‘ajil====
(Also called Bai’ muajjal abbreviated BBA, and known as credit sale or deferred payment
sale). Reportedly the most popular mode of Islamic
financing is cost-plus murabaha in a credit sale setting (Bay bithaman ‘ajil) with “an
added binding promise on the customer to purchase the property, thus replicating secured lending
in `Shari’a compliant` manner.” The concept was developed by Sami Humud, and
shortly after it became popular Islamic Banking began its strong growth in the late 1970s.Another
source (Skrine law firm) distinguishes between Murabahah and Bay’ bithaman ‘ajil (BBA) banking
products, saying that in BBA disclosure of the cost price of the item being financed
is not a condition of the contract.One variation on murabahah (known as “Murabahah to the Purchase
Orderer” according to Muhammad Tayyab Raza) allows the customer to serve as the “agent”
of the bank, so that the customer buys the product using the bank’s borrowed funds. The customer then repays the bank similar
to a cash loan. While this is not “preferable” from a Sharia
point of view, it avoids extra cost and the problem of a financial institution lacking
the expertise to identify the exact or best product or the ability to negotiate a good
price.====Bay’ al-Ina====
(Also Bay’ al-‘Inah). This simple form of murabahah involves the
Islamic bank buying some object from the customer (such as their house or motor vehicle) for
cash, then selling the object back to the customer at a higher price, with payment to
be deferred over time. The customer now has cash and will be paying
the bank back a larger sum of money over time. This resemblance to a conventional loan has
led to bay’ al-ina being criticized as a ruse for a cash loan repaid with interest. It was used by a number of modern Islamic
financial institutions despite condemnation by jurists, but in recent years its use is
“very much limited” according to Harris Irfan. While another source states it is “widely
used” by Islamic banks in Malaysia “especially for personal financing and capital markets”.====Bay’ al-Tawarruq====Tawarruq (also called a “reverse murabaha”
and sometimes a “commodity murabaha”) also allows the banking customer to borrow cash
instead of finance a purchase, and has also been criticized by some jurists. Unlike a bay al-ina it involves another party
in addition to the customer, Islamic bank and seller of the commodity. In Tawarruq the customer would buy some amount
of a commodity (a commodity which is not a “medium of exchange” or forbidden in riba
al-fadl such as gold, silver, wheat, barley, salt, etc.) from the bank to be paid in installments
over a period of time and sell that commodity on the spot market (the commodity buyer being
the additional party) for cash. (The commodity buying and selling is usually
done by the bank on behalf of the customer, so that “all that changes hands is papers
being signed and then handed back” according to one researcher). An example would be buying $10,000 worth of
copper on credit for $12,000 to be paid over two years, and immediately selling that copper
to the third party spot buyer for $10,000 in cash. There are additional fees involved for the
commodity purchases and sales compared to a cash loan, but the additional $2000 is considered
“profit” not “interest” and so not haram according to proponents. According to Islamic banker Harris Irfan,
this complication has “not persuaded the majority of scholars that this series of transactions
is valid in the Sharia.” Because the buying and selling of the commodities
in Tawarruq served no functional purpose, banks/financers are strongly tempted to forgo
it. Islamic scholars have noticed that while there
have been “billions of dollars of commodity-based tawarruq transactions” there have not been
a matching value of commodity being traded. The IMF states that “tawarruq has become controversial
among Shari’ah scholars because of its divergence of its use from the spirit of Islamic finance”. But some prominent scholars have tolerated
commodity murabaha “for the growth of the [Islamic finance] industry”. Irfan states that (at least as of 2015) Sharia
boards of some banks (such as Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank), have taken a stand against Tawarruq
and were “looking at ‘purer’ forms of funding” (such as mudarabah). To “counter the obvious violation of the spirit
of the riba ban”, some banks have required the complication (and expense) of two additional
commodity brokers in addition to the customer and financier.On the other hand, Faleel Jamaldeen
states that “commodity murabaha” contracts are used to fund short-term liquidity requirements
for Islamic interbank transactions, although they may not use gold, silver, barley, salt,
wheat or dates for commodities as this is forbidden under Riba al-Fadl. Among the Islamic banks using Tawarruq (as
of 2012) according to Jamaldeen, include the United Arab Bank, QNB Al Islamic, Standard
Chartered of United Arab Emirates, and Bank Muaamalat of Malaysia.===Different countries=======United States====
In the United States the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency—which regulates nationally
licensed banks—has allowed murabaha:Interpretive Letter #867. November 1999 … In the current financial
marketplace lending takes many forms . … murabaha financing proposals are functionally equivalent
to or a logical outgrowth of secured real estate lending and inventory and equipment
financing, activities that are part of the business of banking.==Challenges and criticism==
Orthodox Islamic Scholars such as Taqi Usmani emphasize that murâbaḥah should only be
used as a structure of last resort where profit and loss sharing instruments are unavailable. Usmani himself describes murâbaḥah as a
“borderline transaction” with “very fine lines of distinction” compared to an interest bearing
loan, as “susceptible to misuse”, and “not an ideal way of financing”. He laments that Many institutions financing
by way of murabahah determine their profit or mark-up on the basis of the current interest
rate, mostly using LIBOR (Inter-bank offered rate in London) as the criterion. Another pioneer, Mohammad Najatuallah Siddiqui,
has lamented that “as a result of diverting most of its funds towards murabaha, Islamic
financial institutions may be failing in their expected role of mobilizing resources for
development of the countries and communities they are serving,” and even bringing about
“a crisis of identity of the Islamic financial movement.”Some Muslims (Rakaan Kayali among
others) complain that murabaha does not eliminate interest as it guarantees for itself the amount
of profit it collects, and so amounts to a Ḥiyal or legal “trick” to defeat the intent
of shariah. Khalid Zaheer considers it an example of how
two classical shariah-compliant contracts (Murabahah and Bai Muajjal) can be combined
to form a contract that is not compliant.Non-orthodox critics of murâbaḥah, have found the distinction
of setting a price “against a commodity” as opposed to “against money” — with the first
being allow and the second forbidden because “money has no intrinsic utility” — abstract
or suspicious. According to El-Gamal it has been called “merely
inefficient lending”. However criticism of the transaction has been
primarily levied against its application. Critics complain that in most real world murâbaḥah
transactions the commodities never change hands (the commodity never appears on the
bank’s balance sheet) and sometimes there are no commodities at all, merely cash-flows
between banks, brokers and borrowers. Often the commodity is completely irrelevant
to the borrower’s business and not even enough of the relevant commodities are in existence
in the world to account for all the transactions taking place. Frank Vogel and Samuel Hayes also note multi-billion-dollar
murabaha transactions in London “popular for many years”, where “many doubt the banks truly
assume possession, even constructively, of inventory”. Islamic banker Irfan bemoans the fact that
“not only is the murabaha money market insufficiently well developed and illiquid, but the very
sharia compliance of it has come to be questioned”, often by Islamic scholars not known for their
strictness.Nejatullah Siddiqi warned the Islamic banking community that the alleged difference
between modes of finance based on murabahah, bay’ salam and conventional loans was even
less than it appeared: Some of these modes of finance are said to
contain some elements of risk, but all these risks are insurable and are actually insured
against. The uncertainty or risk to which the business
being so financed is exposed is fully passed over to the other party. A financial system built solely around these
modes of financing can hardly claim superiority over an interest-based system on grounds of
equity, efficiency, stability and growth. Circa 1999 the Pakistan Federal Shariat Court
ruled that the “mark-up system … in vogue” among banks in Pakistan was against the Islamic
injunctions. Usmani noted (much like the complaints above)
that the Pakistani banks failed to follow proper murabaha requirements—not actually
buying a commodity or buying one “already owned by the customer”. Late paymentWhile in conventional finance
late payments/delinquent loans are discouraged by accumulating interest, in Islamic finance
control and management of late accounts has become a “vexing problems”, according to Muhammad
Akran Khan. Others agree it is a problem. According to Ibrahim Warde, Islamic banks face a serious problem with
late payments, not to speak of outright defaults, since some people take advantage of every
dilatory legal and religious device … In most Islamic countries, various forms of penalties
and late fees have been established, only to be outlawed or considered unenforceable. Late fees in particular have been assimilated
to riba. As a result, `debtors know that they can pay
Islamic banks last since doing so involves no cost`
Warde also complains that “Many businessmen who had borrowed large amounts of money over
long periods of time seized the opportunity of
Islamicization to do away with accumulated interest of their debt, by repaying only the
principal — usually a puny sum when years of double-digit inflation were taken into
consideration. Some suggestions to solve the problem include
having the government or the central bank penalizing defaultors “by depriving them”
of the use of “any financial institution” until they paid up (Taqi Usmani in Introduction
to Islamic Finance) — although this would require a completely Islamized society. Collecting late fees but donating them to
charity, Collecting late fees only when the buyer “has
deliberately refused to make a payment”. Extra costsBecause murabaha financing is “asset-based”
financing (and must be to avoid riba according to orthodox Islamic thinking), it requires
financiers to purchase and sell properties. But regulatory frameworks in most countries
forbid financial intermediaries such as banks “from owning or trading real properties” (according
to scholar Mahmud El-Gamal). Furthermore when the financier holds title
to the property being sold it can be lost “if the financier is sued, loses, and declares
bankruptcy”, and this can happen when a customer has paid off most /almost all of the product/property’s
price. To avoid these dangers SPVs (Special Purpose
Vehicles) are created to hold title to the property and also “serve as parties to various
agreements regarding obligations for repairs and insurance” as required by Islamic jurists. However, the SPVs entail extra costs usually
not borne in conventional finance. Example of MurâbaḥahAn example of a murabaha
contract is: Adam approaches a Murabaha Bank in order to finance the purchase of a $10,000
automobile from “Cash-Only-Automobiles”. The bank agrees to purchase the automobile
from “Cash-Only-Automobiles” for $10,000 and then sell it to Adam for $12,000 which
is to be paid by Adam in equal installments over the next two years. While the cost to Adam is approximately that
of a 10% per year loan, the Murabaha Bank using this transaction maintain it is different
because the amount that Adam owes is fixed and does not increase if he is delinquent
on payments. Therefore, the finance is a sale for profit
and not riba. Another argument that murahaba is shariah
compliant is that it is made up of two transactions, both halal (permissible):
Buying a car for $10,000 and selling it for $12,000 is allowed by Islam. Making a purchase on a deferred payment basis
is also allowed by Islam. However, not mentioned here is the fact that
the same car that is being sold for $12,000 on a deferred payment basis is being sold
for $10,000 on a cash basis. So basically Adam has two options: “Cash-Only-Automobiles” will sell him
the car for $10,000 but are not willing to wait to receive the full price. The Murabaha Bank will sell him the car for
$12,000 and is willing to wait two years to receive the full price.Adam’s choice to
purchase from the Murabaha Bank reflects his desire to not pay the full price of the car
today. In other words, he prefers to pay part of
the price today and be indebted with the rest. The Murabaha Bank agrees to be owed by Adam
the price of his car in return for the amount that it is owed being $2,000 more than the
price of the car today. Did the bank charge Adam a predetermined return
for the use of its money [interest]? Yes. The bank charged $2,000 in return for Adam’s
use of its $10,000 to buy a car. The fact that no penalties are assessed if
Adam is delinquent on his payments simply means that the amount of interest in the murabaha
contract is fixed at $2,000. This amounts to a Ḥiyal or legal “trick”
to defeat the intent of shariah.==See also==
Islamic banking and finance Profit and loss sharing
Islamic finance products, services and contracts Sharia and securities trading
Muamalat FINCA Afghanistan, a Murâbaḥah-compliant
microfinance institution (MFI)==References=====Notes======Citations======Books, documents===
Farooq, Mohammad Omar (November 2005, September 2009). “The Riba-Interest Equation and Islam: Re-examination
of the Traditional Arguments” (PDF). Global Journal of Finance and Economics. 6 (2): 99–111. Retrieved 16 September 2016. Irfan, Harris (2015). Heaven’s Bankers: Inside the Hidden World
of Islamic Finance. Overlook Press. Jamaldeen, Faleel (2012). Islamic Finance For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781118233900. Retrieved 15 March 2017. el-Gamal, Mahmoud A. (2006). Islamic Finance : Law, Economics, and Practice
(PDF). New York, NY: Cambridge. ISBN 9780521864145. Khan, Feisal (2015-12-22). Islamic Banking in Pakistan: Shariah-Compliant
Finance and the Quest to Make Pakistan More Islamic. Routledge. ISBN 9781317366539. Retrieved 9 February 2017. Khan, Muhammad Akram (2013). What Is Wrong with Islamic Economics?: Analysing
the Present State and Future Agenda. Edward Elgar Publishing. Retrieved 26 March 2015. Turk, Rima A. (27–30 April 2014). Main Types and Risks of Islamic Banking Products
(PDF). Kuwait: Regional Workshop on Islamic Banking. International Monetary Fund. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 May
2017. Retrieved 17 August 2017. Usmani, Taqi (1998). An Introduction to Islamic Finance (PDF). Kazakhstan. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-08-07. Usmani, Muhammad Taqi (December 1999). The Historic Judgment on Interest Delivered
in the Supreme Court of Pakistan (PDF). Karachi, Pakistan: albalagh.net.==External links==
World Database for Islamic Banking and Finance

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