COINAGE OF ANTIQUE TRUTH
Refutation of a trans-continental fatwā
and specification of the correct view
In this age of spiraling darkness, where the organism of Allah’s Dīn is lacerated by the relentless erosion of its bonding foundations, the average Muslim individuality is as if split in two.
This duplicity characterizes and in fact defines the generality of Muslims.
Wholesomeness, the integrated wholesomeness which neatly configured Islamic life in the past (Islam being after all a complete way of being in this world), has become the increasingly sparser property of a few.
A standard illustration of this irresolvable duplicity is provided by the under-mentioned document.
It consists in a fatwā, a joint product from the United Kingom and South Africa, originating in a milieu shaped up by two contrasting impulses:
• Punctilious care to dietary laws and matters of exterior guise (the length of the beard, the style of dress, the full covering of female body, the edges of trousers), which are taken to extremes of strictness as an over-pronounced differentiation from “Jews and Christians” or “the secular West”;
• Over-indulgent adoption or legalization of normative practices identifying the selfsame camps (“Jews and Christians”, “the secular West”) in the fields of socio-political and economic ordering of existence. Changing those practices requires in fact far greater and more sustained effort, and a more radical overhauling of values and habits.
The net product of such an unmitigated contradiction at source is frightening:
• Destructive energies are unleashed inwardly, i.e. against Muslims who fail to live up to their redefined standards of lawfulness and morality founded on accentuated exteriorities and are accordingly ascribed by them, baselessly, to sinfulness and deviation (the “holier than thou attitude”);
• Constructive energies fail to open up inwardly, i.e. towards those Jews and Christians and citizens of the secular West who would be greatly enriched by a coordinated presentation of the Islamic alternative to dominant socio-political and economic patterns. Once the Islamic teachings in those fields are projected as being undifferentiated replicas of whatever is prevalent, no such alternative can obviously come into view.
Site: Ask Imam
Category: Jurisprudence and Rulings (Fiqh)
Asked Country (sic): South Africa
Is paper money allowed in Islam?
The text of the fatwā
I heard a talk by a certain shaykh that said paper money is (sic) not allowed in Islam. Is this correct?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh
Broadly speaking, paper money or banknotes went through two stages in their history:
1. Initially, they were regarded as certificates or receipts, promising to pay the amount of gold represented by them upon demand. In this earlier period, the receipts or promissory notes were backed up by actual gold.
2. Later, they came to be regarded in international trade, and by the common people, as currency or media of exchange (thaman). No longer were they backed up by gold.
We will discuss each of these scenarios in turn, and in doing so, we will briefly discuss the arguments of those who consider it harām to use paper money as a medium of exchange.
Banknotes as Promissory Agreements
When paper “money” or banknotes were first introduced, they were legal documents that transferred a debt to the original debtor who promised to pay the amount of gold represented by them upon demand. Those who hold the view that it is impermissible to use banknotes as a medium of exchange argue that to trade with these notes equates to the “sale of a debt” (bay‘ ad-dayn) or “sale of a product before receipt of it” (bay‘ qabl al-qabd) which are impermissible in the Sharī‘ah. However, this argument is based on a misunderstanding of Islamic laws of commerce. Using these promissory notes as a medium of exchange would not be regarded as the sale of a debt, but the transfer (hawālah) of a debt. In a sale, once the price has been confirmed, and the transaction concluded, the purchaser is not under an obligation to hand over the money immediately. He may transfer the debt (i.e. the price) due on him to one of his own debtors, and in doing so he will become free of his debt. The note merely certifies this transfer in writing.
Furthermore, the gold that is represented by the note is the thaman or “price” and not the mabī‘ or “subject of trade.” Thaman is not “sold”, but is merely a medium of exchange. Hence, the jurists have made it clear that for the transaction to be valid, it is not a condition for the thaman to even be in existence. Instead, the purchaser may pay with money that comes into his possession later. Furthermore, when commodities are sold for money, it is only necessary that possession is taken of either the commodity or the money, and it is not necessary to take possession of both at the time of the transaction.
In short, when banknotes were regarded as promissory notes or receipts for the payment of gold, it would have been permissible to use them as media of exchange.
Banknotes as Money
The above discussion relates only to the period when banknotes were regarded as promissory notes for the payment of a specified amount of gold. However, since the nineteenth century, the international community has regarded banknotes as “legal tender.” Creditors were compelled to accept it for the repayment of a debt. Commercial banks were prevented from producing them, and production was limited to the central government banks. Eventually, in the latter half of the twentieth century, gold and silver became totally disregarded in the appraisal of paper money, and banknotes came to be regarded as money equivalent to gold and silver. Today, banknotes do not represent gold or silver but represent the “purchasing power” of that currency. Hence, they are now legally and customarily regarded as money.
Undoubtedly, banknotes were initially treated as certificates of debt, which is why many earlier ‘ulamā’ regarded them as such and did not consider them wealth. However, describing the later context, Geoffery Growther wrote in his An Outline of Money: “The promise to pay which appears on their face now is utterly meaningless…But it is accepted as money throughout the British Isles.” (p. 16)
Based on this, the vast majority of contemporary jurists favour the opinion that paper money is to be regarded as a form of money, and not a promissory note or receipt. Those who hold that it is impermissible to use paper money as a medium of exchange argue that banknotes have no intrinsic value, and the ‘value’ assigned to them has merely been imposed by the state. In other words, they are ‘fiat currency,’ that is, given the status of ‘money’ by governments while having no intrinsic value themselves. Hence, they argue, since in a valid sale both of the items that are exchanged must be wealth (māl) and must have intrinsic value, it is not permissible to deal in paper money. Instead, according to them, we must revert to the use of gold and silver as media of exchange.
This argument is also misplaced. In fact, many early jurists have stated explicitly that a form of currency in vogue at their time, referred to as fulūs or artificial currency, holds the same status as dirhams. Fulūs contained neither gold nor silver, and were thus ‘fiat currency’ in much the same way banknotes are today. Moreover, the jurists have stated that this status of fulūs is based on human conventions and the value assigned to them by people. From amongst the jurists, Imām Mālik, too, approved of using fulūs as mediums of exchange. Moreover, fulūs were used in the time of the Sahābah. There are no Shar‘ī justifications for drawing a distinction between fulūs and present-day banknotes.
Furthermore, customs and norms (‘urf) play a large role in determining what is and what is not regarded as “wealth” in the Sharī‘ah. Ibn ‘Aibdīn ash-Shāmī said:
“The meaning of ‘wealth’ (māl) is that which [human] nature inclines towards, and it is possible to store it for a time of need. The attribute of wealth is established by the people regarding [it] as wealth.”
It is also undoubtedly true that in today’s world, fiat currency is accepted by the masses without any coercion or force, and out of free will.
Hence, the correct Shar‘ī position is that in today’s time, banknotes are legitimate media of exchange. The view that it is impermissible to use them as a medium of exchange is a minority position which, besides being impractical, is not supported by sound arguments from Islamic jurisprudence.
And Allah Ta‘ālā Knows Best
Student Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.
The critique of the fatwā
The first thing which imposes itself on one’s attention is that the fatwā clearly moves from a foregone conclusion back to some legitimizing reasons for it.
“I have taken a position which favours bank money”
“I need some references and arguments to back it up from the Law”.
That is the opposite of a sound scientific enquiry.
It is as if, in assessing the correctness of a theorem or the efficacy of a remedy, I began with the prior validation thereof and then I sought to prove, from the empirical tests set out in my dissertation, that what I initially believed held scientific water.
The brief of the true jurist, however, is to approach an issue with an unprejudiced attitude:
He only takes sides with truth, and stops wherever truth points him to. He does not take side with any pre-cooked view, even if it is one he has a personal propensity for or one underscoring the approach of his ideological or doctrinal school.
In his spacious masterwork Qawā`id at-Tasawwuf, Shaykh Ahmad Zarrūq lauded the fair seeker of truth who gives each thing its due and the learned person who is steered and qualified by truths, and slammed the student who shirks away from admitting a truth when he comes across it [Foundation 11].
Only members of the former category are worth being paid regard to.
What is the psychological impulse behind such a fatwā built upon a pre-judgment of the mas’alah?
The one issuing it is loudly proclaiming what follows:
“If I admit dealing daily with tainted money, I admit indulging in the unlawful. I admit that I am not all that pious, that my earnings might be suspect and that my supplications (du`ā’) to Allah are possibly disregarded”.
If he is a scholar, leader, public speaker, communal figure etc, he says:
“My reputation is built upon ostensible piety and I cannot let go of that. Rather, I dismiss the uncomfortable opposite view as baseless”.
If he is a follower, he adds:
“I cannot accept viewing myself or the teachers I have taken as my guides as sinful. Rather, I play down the cogency of the opposite view, either by deeming it spurious or by accepting my teachers’ view as equally acceptable at the least”.
In today’s time, this is achieved by the ubiquitous (and abused) concept of legitimate disagreement: “Islam is broad. Mercy lies in disagreement. We are all right, we all proceed from evidences; we are all living out Islam and implementing the Law in our varied ways”.
Amman shows the way, and road users globally oblige.
Bank money is both lawful and unlawful, depending on how you look at it and on whose scholarly authority you choose for yourself.
That is of course untrue: Bank money is either lawful or unlawful.
Psychologically, the aforesaid attitude strikes a neutral observer as arrogant.
“I cannot sin, I cannot do what is wrong; my Dīn is fully congruous with the Prophetic teachings”:
The root of that is conceitedness, which as we all know is demonic in nature. People are enmeshed in wrong visions, wrong impulses and wrongdoings in this age of growing imperfection. We have to mercifully acknowledge and accept that, both in ourselves and in others.
This means that the proponents of the fatwā and those subscribing to it in spite of proof to the contrary are impervious to counsel and inimical to change. They have taken an arrogant arch-stance, and like Iblīs they will remain entrenched in it no matter what: “I cannot sin, I cannot do what is wrong; my Dīn is fully congruous with the Prophetic teachings”.
There is no point in addressing them. It is the ordinary Muslims we want to address, since there is still openness of thought and receptiveness to the truth among them.
The healthy perspective is another:
“We are all on the same boat. Usurious money and finance have flooded us all. We cannot change that as individuals, since it is a communal aspect, a political reality, and Islam is both Dīn and Dawlah. We do not claim to be miraculously safe from that as fully pious individuals. Rather, the partition line is whether I strive to come out of its darkness to the light of halāl practices and institutions, my sincerity in that strife, and whether I call my fellow believers to share in that struggle, or whether I supinely and conveniently, hence cowardly, accept the existing reality and go on living under it as if everything is fine, at all times arguing before the world why it should be considered fine.
«It is He Who sends down Clear Signs to His slave to bring you out of the darkness to the light» (Sūrah al-Hadīd: 9).
The right judgment should accordingly be:
Bank money is illicit in itself. However, since its use is pervasive, changing matters is a multi-phase societal undertaking which cannot be finalized in one day by any single individual, and meanwhile we are forced to accept bank money as legal tender, it is permissible to resort to it on the basis of a real compelling necessity, to the extent that such compelling necessity demands.
We do not propose reiterating our known critique of bank money. We have laid it out in depth in such writings as Zakāt and Bank Money: http://www.theislamiccommunity.com/article/zakaat_on_bank_moneyhttp://www.theislamiccommunity.com/article/zakaat_on_bank_money, and further elucidated it elsewhere.
We merely want to stress once more the following:
a) Paper money (what is technically referred to as “fiat currency”) is largely anachronistic. Most banks, especially those in the developed world, are cashless, holding as little as 2% of reserves in banknotes, coins, and a miscellany of securities and “tangible” assets.
No one buys an aircraft or a factory with paper money, which is reserved for smaller transactions at the base of the pyramid.
In that sense (but not in every respect), paper money can be assimilated to the fulūs of yesteryear: They function as small coinage.
Most of today’s money, up to 98% in sophisticated places like Scandinavia, exists as electronic impulse, as a mere book entry. It is a fiction, on which reality is artificially conferred.
It is called bank money and not paper money. It is not called fiat currency by economists. The adjective fiat implies that it rested on the public trusting the ability to convert it into gold upon presentation. As for bank money, it stands on its own and is not redeemed by any metal. It does not rest on external trust, on a cheque of confidence signed by the public. Humans simply accept that fiction is money and money is fiction. After all, most of them accept the fiction that there is no resurrection and that this is the only life.
It follows that any serious analysis has to focus on bank money, which is something the fatwā under examination regrettably does not.
b) Bank money is a fungible which is magically leased by the banking system, with interest, a multiplicity of charges and restrictions imposed by the owner on the galaxy of human lessees renting it.
Money, just like a banana, is a fungible: Once it is consumed it is destroyed. It cannot be leased, unlike a shop or a house or an ornamental sword.
Just as fiction cannot be reality, a fungible cannot be a non-fungible, yet in this androgynous age of Harry Potter wizardry it appears that mutually irreconcilable realities merge into one.
Even advocates of Islamic banking accept that paper and bank money ought to be classified as fungibles = each is māl istihlākī as it is said in Arabic. Istihlāk translates the word “consumption” in standard modern Arabic. Consumerism is called istihlākiyyah. Halaka means “it was destroyed / ruined, it died”. If I seek its destruction and ruin, hence its annihilation and death, I consume it.
A consumed banana exits the digestive apparatus as fertilizer, which no longer is the (annihilated) banana. Yet in present-day banking, what dies of natural death is artificially reincarnated on an ongoing basis. I consume electronic impulses, I annihilate them by my consumption, and then, lo! they miraculously come back to life to be consumed and destroyed by millions of other bodies, time and again, ad infinitum.
An endless vivification of Lazarus;
An eternally self-regenerating Arabian phoenix:
No wonder the Hindus’ theory of reincarnation is so popular among disorientated post-Christians of the Rūm: Never expelled from this dunyā, unlike the digested banana, and in so doing avoiding (so they hope) the inevitable need to face judgment before the Owner of the Day of Judgment.
Understanding this plain and undeniable reality should be the starting point of any genuine juristic analysis, yet I have to read a proper jurisprudential analysis of money and finance by Muslims which admits it and formulates a position pursuant thereto.
In this age infatuated with such slogans as “purposive fiqh” and “fiqh of realism”, the only purpose which is seemingly paid consideration is to legitimize living in subjugation under secular humanism.
If purposive fiqh (fiqh maqāsidī), which of course we are not opposed to in itself, was applied in this arena, we would have to pose the questions:
Who controls the issue of bank / paper money?
Who benefits by it?
Who suffers as a result thereof?
We will then conclude that only a tiny minority of capitalist financers and those granted advantages by the enthronement of global banking (large corporations, vassal states and so on) are empowered by it; and that the bulk of mankind suffers despoliation at its hands: Their assets of wealth are snatched from them cheaply, and what they rent in exchange (worthless paper and electronic signals) is exponentially deprived of purchasing power, and thus effective value.
The few rich get richer and the numberless others get poorer by the day.
On that ground alone, given the certain (let alone probable) evil produced by the use of bank money, purposive fiqh practitioners would have declared it illegal on the basis of the principle of sadd adh-dharā’i` (blocking the means to evil), and would have done so already upon its first emergence.
It is the dearth of authentic leaders of both knowledge and command which prevented and still prevents that from happening.
Never mind the rest: that alone should have led to a juristic pronouncement of interdiction of its use by Muslims and between Muslims.
Once more, I have yet to come across a percipient analysis to that effect by famous scholars in the ummah.
Point by point analysis
Impermissibility of paper money as promissory note
Although fiat currency or paper money as redeemable promissory notes backed up by gold reserves is no longer in use, and in that respect anything said about it is of historical and not practical significance, the first part of the fatwā makes reference to general principles demanding our attentive comment.
“When paper “money” or banknotes were first introduced, they were legal documents that transferred a debt to the original debtor who promised to pay the amount of gold represented by them upon demand. Those who hold the view that it is impermissible to use banknotes as a medium of exchange argue that to trade with these notes equates to the “sale of a debt” (bay‘ ad-dayn) or “sale of a product before receipt of it” (bay‘ qabl al-qabd) which are impermissible in the Sharī‘ah. However, this argument is based on a misunderstanding of Islamic laws of commerce. Using these promissory notes as a medium of exchange would not be regarded as the sale of a debt, but the transfer (hawālah) of a debt”.
This is grossly incorrect.
In the first place, as devotees of fiqh know, hawālah or transfer of debts / credits (both descriptions have been adopted by jurists, depending on their respective visual angles) is a species of sale of debt for debt, as such exempted from the general proscription of such an exchange.
In the fiqh, we call dhimmah the notional recipient of obligations dayn which do not correspond to corporeal properties that are individually identified and singled out
If I buy a specific and thus specifically itemized cow, the vendor has to deliver to me that cow, as I have been transferred ownership thereof specifically. The vendor’s obligation is an obligation ‘ayn (‘ayn = identified corporeal property). The money over which I have to transfer ownership to the vendor is a defined quantity, say, so many silver coins. Those coins are not specifically identified, unlike the corpus of that cow. So long as I deliver to the vendor the stipulated number of coins, I have discharged my obligation dayn, which is stored in my dhimmah.
Hawālah is the transfer of a debt from one dhimmah to another whereby the former dhimmah is discharged (= it is as if that notional receptacle previously storing such obligation is emptied of it, and thus made lighter).
We have Zayd, ‘Amr and Sahl.
‘Amr is indebted to Zayd and has a claim against Sahl.
Zayd has a credit of 100 against ‘Amr; Sahl in is in turn a debtor to ‘Amr in an amount of 100.
‘Amr assigns Zayd, in respect of the 100 he owes to the latter, to Sahl, for Zayd to claim satisfaction from Sahl. Sahl turns into Zayd’s debtor in lieu of ‘Amr, and ‘Amr’s dhimmah is discharged (by transferring his claim against Sahl to the benefit of Zayd).
‘Amr is the debtor-assignor, Zayd is the creditor-assignee, and Sahl, as new debtor, is the transferee.
‘Amr has sold the debt owed to him by Sahl for the debt he owes to Zayd his creditor.
Why has hawālah been exempted from the Lawgiver’s general prohibition (embedded principally in texts of Prophetic ahādīth) of selling a debt for a debt?
In order to make room for customary good (ma`rūf) and show sympathetic indulgence to debtors in the same way that the ‘ariyyah or commodate loan → the loan of a particular and identifiable piece of property, temporarily and gratuitously = without anything given in exchange, has been exempted from the muzābanah → the sale of fresh fruits in exchange of dry fruits, where the quantity of the latter is measured while the quantity of the former is uncertain (= an exemption from the ban on sale vitiated by gharar); and the qirād or dormant partnership has been exempted from the prohibition of both ribā (an excess is in fact gained on a capital sum) and gharar (the parties do not know, when concluding a qirād, whether any profit is going to ensue, and if so to what extent).
All of them are exemptions from general norms which are motivated by the encouragement of customary good (ma`rūf).
Purposive fiqh must precisely investigate the purpose for which something has been legislated in the Dīn.
Why has hawālah been allowed by the Lawgiver? For the purpose of easing debtors’ conditions and mitigating their burdens:
IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CREATING A BANKING ESTABLISHMENT FOR SOMEONE TO ATTAIN LUCRE OUT OF IT, AS WAS THE CASE WITH GOLDSMITHS’ BUSINESSES AND BANKERS’ BUSINESSES AFTERWARDS.
Already from a principled point of view, therefore, hawālah has nothing to do with the goldsmiths’ use of redeemable paper certificates referred to in the fatwā.
Not surprisingly, Islamic societies knew of such a practice and never permitted its introduction in the Adobe of Islam.
Nay, they combated it, as we shall shortly observe in the famous incident involving Marwān b. al-Hakam.
What are the conditions of hawālah in the Law?
“When paper “money” or banknotes were first introduced, they were legal documents that transferred a debt to the original debtor who promised to pay the amount of gold represented by them upon demand”.
The terminology is all wrong.
There is no “original debtor”. There are, as we said, debtor-assignor (‘Amr), creditor-assignee (Zayd), and transferee (Sahl).
We have seen that ‘Amr wears 2 hats: debtor on one side, creditor on the other.
What the fatwā is suggesting is this:
‘Amr buys item x from Zayd for purchase price y. ‘Amr hands over to Zayd a receipt / certificate. ‘Amr has some gold deposited with Sahl.
There is no debt and no debtor in the latter relationship: There is a deposit for safekeeping, which is termed wadī`ah in the fiqh. The wadī`ah is defined in the Law as “the placement of a proprietary asset with someone else purely for safekeeping”. It is a fiduciary contract (‘aqd amānah) for the benefit of the depositor.
The goldsmith does not owe money to the purchaser. He is responsible to keep the latter’s money safe. He is a trusted person (amīn) who only has to make it good in the event of willful misconduct or actionable negligence (for then, and only then, its destruction, loss or damage is imputable to him).
‘Amr is saying here, ‘I do not have the purchase price y with me. I have a receipt which certifies the fact that gold owned by me can satisfy your claim for the purchase price. I keep it in deposit with goldsmith Sahl. Let me take delivery of your item x. Go if you want to the goldsmith and get y from him.’
This has nothing to do with hawālah.
It is a sale where it is up to the vendor to collect the purchase price (which is not present at the parties’ contractual session) at some indefinite time.
A credit sale, instead, should demarcate the term of payment = when the deferred purchase price is going to be delivered to the vendor.
Moreover, sale is a commutative contract, i.e. one where the parties transfer between themselves benefits which are exactly proportionate to one another.
Here, Zayd sells item x to ‘Amr. ‘Amr gets the benefit of the subject-matter of the sale (item x), but Zayd does not get at once the benefit of purchase price y. In a credit sale, he simply waits for ‘Amr to approach him later and place him in possession of the purchase price, so that the two benefits cancel each other out.
With the promissory note in his possession, Zayd might one day take delivery of purchase price y, and to do so he assumes the extra load of collecting it from the goldsmith.
This is ribā, plain ribā distorting the normative exchange of two equivalent benefits.
‘Amr gives a receipt and is spared any burden. Zayd is burdened twice. Sahl the financial intermediary parasitically makes money out of each and every such transaction; parasitically because all he engages in is a fiduciary duty of pure safekeeping (for which he could ordinarily charge but a meager fee, yet he charges far more), in one fixed location, without assuming the risks and pains of trade.
Zayd has no guarantee that he can ever lay his hands on the purchase price (= the benefit corresponding to the one he transferred to the purchaser ‘Amr). In terms of fractional reserve banking, which the goldsmith quickly learnt was applicable to the assets deposited with him, a small layer of reserves is kept by him, and if there is dented confidence and a run on money (especially when rescuing governments cannot intervene promptly or at all), he is unable to satisfy Zayd’s claim to have the receipt converted into gold.
On top of that, Sahl the goldsmith can lend for profit, based both on what he has and in excess of what he has.
Zayd, meanwhile, re-sells what he does not have by circulating the receipt he got from ‘Amr = by circulating the promise of receiving his purchase price.
IF THIS IS NOT PART OF THE ACCURSED RIBĀ ALLAH AND HIS MESSENGER DECLARED WAR ON, WHAT IS IT?
The fatwā advocates the legality of ribā and wants Muslims to endorse its legalization.
This has nothing to do with hawālah.
It has to do with the goldsmith, later the bank, running a business (a deposit and lending institution), and with people transacting through the intermediary of that business.
Hawālah was a private arrangement between defined subjects (as such governed by strict pre-conditions of validity).
Muslim rulers and scholars knew for centuries that such a business was run in the lands of the Rūm, and never allowed its absorption in Islamic territory.
No such inspired ruler or scholar ever sought to justify its importation, in the classical era, on the ground that it was founded on hawālah, despite the fact that hawālah was understood and detailed in full by the Salaf and those coming after them.
Only modernist decadence, nowadays camouflaged as “orthodoxy” or “neo-traditionalism”, gave it right of entry.
“Using these promissory notes as a medium of exchange would not be regarded as the sale of a debt, but the transfer (hawālah) of a debt. In a sale, once the price has been confirmed, and the transaction concluded, the purchaser is not under an obligation to hand over the money immediately. He may transfer the debt (i.e. the price) due on him to one of his own debtors, and in doing so he will become free of his debt. The note merely certifies this transfer in writing”.
That is patently untrue: We have clarified that hawālah and the business of goldsmiths / banks are chalk and cheese which have nothing in common with one another.
Use of the certificates / receipts / promissory notes in pursuing the business of goldsmith / bank does not purposefully aim at any customary good (ma`rūf) by lessening debtors’ burdens.
The goldsmith is not a debtor and acknowledges no debt; and the fatwā disingenuously seeks to identify the transferee with the goldsmith and his institutional successors.
The note, therefore, does not transfer any hawālah in writing.
But let us hypothetically assume that we are dealing with the right context.
Being an exception to the normative prohibition of selling a debt for a debt, of which the hawālah is undoubtedly a species, as noted by all our juristic luminaries, the permissibility of such an assignment of debt is subject to stringent conditions.
For example, in our illustrating example Zayd and ‘Amr must both consent to the assignment of debt. If, however, a promissory note is forced on me as legal tender which I cannot decline, while insisting I want ‘Amr to pay me in real currency (gold or silver), my consent is bypassed. In the Law, consent must be real.
Secondly, due to fractional reserve banking the so-called credit ‘Amr has against Sahl is a fictional existent: a fraction of the undifferentiated reserves kept with the depositor.
EVEN IF GOLD-BACKED PAPER MONEY FIT INTO THE RULES OF HAWĀLAH, WHICH IS NOT THE CASE, IT WOULD FALL SHORT OF THE CONDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR ITS LEGITIMACY.
“Furthermore, the gold that is represented by the note is the thaman or “price” and not the mabī‘ or “subject of trade.” Thaman is not “sold”, but is merely a medium of exchange.”
That is another far-reaching distortion of matters.
It reflects the hyper-monetization of thinking which lies at the root of secular societies, and it is quite an irony that so-called orthodox circles should rush to underwrite it.
The fiqh of sale (bay`) is clear as to the fact that the object of such a contract is the sale of each of the two countervalues, subject-matter and price, for the other, each of them accordingly representing the quid pro quo for its equivalent counterpart. Both of them are patrimonial assets of inherent value in Islam, and there is no reason, save for a predisposition on one side to represent price-ness (thamaniyyah), to separate them on the ground of their specific nature: gold for gold is bay`, food for food is bay`, and gold for food is bay`.
In Arabic, the language of the last Revelation, the verb bā`a means both to sell and to buy (= to effect an exchange between one thing and the other as mutual equivalents of each other).
Root-wise, the contract is termed bay` and shirā’ in respect of each of the two contracting parties, since their situational condition is similar, as it is characterized by a reciprocity of exchange and the mutual transfer of two equivalent considerations. Each of them buys and sells something at the same time.
Therefore, bay` (narrowly translated as “sale”) is described in Arabic as encompassing opposite meanings (asmā’ al-`addād), and likewise the word shirā’ (narrowly translated as “purchase”).
Allah the Exalted has said: «And among people are those who sell (yashrī) themselves desiring the good pleasure of Allah» [Sūrah al-Baqarah: 207]. The verb yashrī has been used in the āyah to denote the act of selling. Likewise, in an authentic hadīth found in Muslim’s collection, we encounter the narration to the effect that the Messenger of Allah, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, said: “Let no man make a purchase (yabī`) over his brother’s purchase (bay`).”
As al-Bannānī, a famous Mālikī jurist, summed up in a famous textbook, the object is sold for the price and the price for the object.
The Hanafī school (which the author of the sterilized fatwā adheres to) defines sale as the exchange of a proprietary asset one can lawfully benefit from (māl mutaqawwim) for a similar asset.
There is essential similarity between the exchanged countervalues.
Apart from the fact that neither bank money nor paper money is one from which benefit recognized in the Law can be derived, the purchase price consists in a lawfully enjoyed proprietary asset in its own right as much as the subject-matter it is exchanged for.
All four recognized schools do not consider the purchase price in a sale to represent a mere medium of exchange.
A PROMISE TO COLLECT MONEY ON DEMAND IS NOT A PROPRIETARY ASSET WHICH CAN BE EXCHANGED FOR ONE SUCH ASSET. THERE IS FUNDAMENTAL DISSIMILARITY BETWEEN THE TWO, AND THEREFORE NO EXCHANGE OF EQUAL BENEFITS AS ENVISAGED BY A SALE CAN COME TO PASS THROUGH SUCH PROMISE.
THE PRICE IS NOT A MERE MEDIUM OF EXCHANGE IN THE SHARĪ`AH.
“Hence, the jurists have made it clear that for the transaction to be valid, it is not a condition for the thaman to even be in existence. Instead, the purchaser may pay with money that comes into his possession later. Furthermore, when commodities are sold for money, it is only necessary that possession is taken of either the commodity or the money, and it is not necessary to take possession of both at the time of the transaction”.
All these points do not take the argument any further.
a) It is conceded that a credit sale can be entered into in Islam. The scenario is however different. In a credit sale, where the purchase price is not present at the meeting-place (majlis) of the parties where the contract is concluded, there is mutual agreement by the parties that the stipulated price in the form of a lawfully enjoyable proprietary asset, of intrinsic value, shall be produced on a specific deferred time. Two exactly proportionate benefits are exchanged, one of which involves deferment in taking delivery of a countervalue (to be compensated for if need be by a slight upward adjustment of the price).
- Simple scenario
- Zayd sells to ‘Amr subject-matter x for deferred purchase price y
- No third party involved
- Purchase price y does not have to be in existence at the meeting-place of the parties. It needs to exist, as a lawful asset, at the scheduled time of its deferred payment.
With a goldsmith’s promissory note, the parties agree that, if he so wishes, Zayd can approach the safe keeper / lender Sahl, a third party who has a fiduciary relationship with ‘Amr, and assume the extra burden of redeeming the paper by its conversion to a proprietary asset of value, i.e. real money.
b) Although a cash sale is the best and safest mode, it is trite law that one can advance the purchase price in a salam or defer the purchase price in a credit sale, without being hit by the prohibition of exchanging a debt for a debt in either case. That has however nothing to do with the promissory notes of bankers and goldsmiths which are affected by ribā and cannot be justified by the rules on assignments of debts as indicated above.
“Those who hold the view that it is impermissible to use banknotes as a medium of exchange argue that to trade with these notes equates to the “sale of a debt” (bay‘ ad-dayn) or “sale of a product before receipt of it” (bay‘ qabl al-qabd) which are impermissible in the Sharī‘ah”.
Tellingly, while the author of the fatwā has sought to counter one of the two critical aspects he chose to mention (albeit erroneously, since the use of promissory notes is not an instance of hawālah), he elected not to tackle the other aspect.
The only reason for such dereliction of duties is in our view the fact that he was unable to debunk that critique, at least if he wanted to stay with the Law.
It is time to refresh our historical memory:
During Marwān b. al-Hakam’s tenure as Emir of al-Madīnah, in the coastal town of al-Jār food allocated to military personnel would be gathered. The officer in charge of the matter would write down in pieces of paper (sukūk) the names of the eligible recipients prior to the distribution of such food allowances.
People began to sell those receipts of guaranteed food among themselves, without first converting them to the food they represented, exactly as promissory notes purporting to represent deposited gold were traded by members of the public.
Having been informed of the development by Zayd b. Thābit and another Companion, both of whom neatly defined it as ribā, Marwān b. al-Hakam immediately moved to eradicate the practice and veto it unconditionally.
If he and his appointing superiors had wished, they would have been the first people to introduce banking, long before the Rūm. They did not, and did not think of doing so, not even for a second.
Zayd sold the subject-matter x to ‘Amr in exchange for purchase price y.
‘Amr does not have any gold coin with him at the meeting-place where the contract is entered into.
He has a promise that Sahl can hand the gold to Zayd upon the latter’s eventual presentation of the note.
Imām Malik included the said report, in the Muwatta’, in the section on ‘īnah of the Book of Sales therein: “Bāb al-‘īnah wa-ma yushbihuhā” (Chapter on the ‘īnah and what is akin to it).
It is therefore a general section and not one specific to selling food before taking possession of it.
The ‘īnah, as defined by Sayyidunā ‘Umar, is “the sale of what is not with the vendor”.
In a sale, each party buys and sells.
‘Amr sells to Zayd what he does not have.
He does not have the gold; that much is undoubted.
He accordingly extends no benefit to Zayd which equates the benefit received from him (a duly delivered subject-matter).
In Al-Istidhkār, one of his famous commentaries on the Muwatta’, the Hāfiz of the West, Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Barr, defined the ‘īnah, as “the sale of what you do not have before you have purchased it, whether it is food or other than food”.
The effective cause (‘illah) of its prohibition is that it is “an expedient to sell a dirham for more on deferred terms” = It is an expedient leading one to ribā al-fadl (usury by excess) and ribā an-nasī`ah (usury by deferment) in currency exchange.
Looking at matters holistically to abide by both the spirit and the letter of Allah’s commands and prohibitions: This is purposive fiqh, this is fiqh of realism!
Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Barr, in his aforesaid text, commenting on the report about Zayd and Marwān and the other reports in the chapter (since they all share the same unifying thread: ‘īnah and its interdiction as a vehicle to ribā), wrote: “The report from Ibn ‘Umar and all these reports convey one and the same meaning, namely, the meaning of ‘īinah, the explanation whereof was set out at the beginning of this chapter. Zayd b. Thābit only equated the sale of food before taking delivery of it to ribā because in his view [the view of the greatest jurist of his age, no less] it fell under ‘īnah which resembled the scenario of one silver coin for more on deferred terms.”
If paper money as promissory note is exchanged for a proprietary asset (in our example x), it is thus outlawed as a direct example of ‘īnah assimilated to a usurious transaction.
In the recent past, scholars of the ummah held divergent views as to the nature of paper money. The following were the main ones they propounded in that respect:
• Certificates of debt
• Assimilated to fulūs
• Not at all wealth
• A ramification of gold and silver
• Self-subsisting money = money in its own right.
This last-mentioned view later gained undisputed primacy.
Purchase price → Subject-matter of the sale → Can I, ‘Amr, sell the subject-matter before taking delivery thereof?
That is different from re-selling the price itself before converting the receipt into gold deposited with Sahl, which the formal introduction of paper money in 1914, the year when the Great War began, enabled.
The two scenarios should not be confused.
Even the re-sale of a subject-matter prior to taking delivery thereof, regardless of its nature (food or otherwise) is proscribed by a plethora of learned savants of the ummah:
• A multitude of Companions
• A multitude of Followers
• ‘Abdullāh b. ‘Abbās
• Jābir b. ‘Abdillāh
• Sufyān ath-Thawrī
• Sufyān b. ‘Uyaynah
• Muhammad b. al-Hasan ash-Shaybānī
• Abū Yūsuf
• Ahmad b. Hanbal
• Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah
Imām Abū Hanīfah forbids its resale if the subject-matter consists in a movable].
More important than these two notes, however educational, is to remind ourselves of what Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Barr observed:
Whatever is a subterfuge to exchange 1 dirham for 1 dirham + (or 1 dirham for 1 dirham – seen from the other viewpoint) is ribā to be stamped out.
Zayd sells x to ‘Amr.
In exchange for it, ‘Amr gives Zayd a piece of paper.
When Zayd cashes that receipt, if at all, he might get, as deferred quid pro quo, more than the purchase price or, almost inevitably due to the constant devaluation of all bank money, less than it, i.e. less than what he sold x for.
Let us go back to note 1 and assume that paper money was a certificate of debt, since it bore a stamp to the effect that it was redeemable and capable of being converted into its value in gold upon presentation, inasmuch as it was backed up by gold in goldsmiths’ safes or banking vaults.
Zayd who has received it from Sahl would then be able to re-sell it.
He would thus be selling a debt.
Can a debt be sold?
According to three of the four valid schools of Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamā`ah, including the Hanafī one, the sale of a debt to other than the debtor for a price payable at once is forbidden. The Literalist school, too, vetoed it, as did Sufyān ath-Thawrī, whose juristic methodology was not preserved for posterity by his students. If any such sale was purported to be concluded, the followers of those three madhāhib would pronounce it void ab initio.
Mālik’s madhhab, by contrast, permits it, provided a number of stringent conditions are meticulously complied with:
- The debt must represent what is legitimately capable of being sold prior to taking delivery of it, thereby excluding such as the sale of foodstuff (and much more than it according to numerous jurists).
- The purchase price must be of a different species than the debt itself, or a quantitatively equal unit of the same species, lest the contracting parties fall into usury. If Zayd exchanges the certificate of debt for other bank money, in a currency exchange, he would fall foul of this requirement, and likewise if he exchanges the certificate of debt for a higher or lower amount of the currency denominated in it [All bank money, whether it consists in US dollars or Zimbabwean dollars, belongs to one and the same species, as Islamic “economists” themselves maintain].
- The purchase price must not be silver when the debt represents gold, lest a sale of currency for currency which is not actualized at once arise. Such a sale would in fact necessitate the parties to physically take possession of the exchanged countervalues, something you obviously cannot do with a debt.
- The debt must be sold for a purchase price which is physically taken delivery of.
- The debtor must be present in the country where the contract is entered into, so that the debtor’s true patrimonial state (affluence or poverty, ease or hardship) can be ascertained. That is required as the quid pro quo which is exchanged for a debt varies commensurately with debtors’ varied financial conditions. This fifth condition, ramifying from the general rule that the subject-matter of a sale must necessarily be determinate (“known”) to avert the proscription of gharar, is flagrantly violated by a sale of paper money. The debtor, which according to the fatwā is the goldsmith / bank, is often resident elsewhere, and the law protects him from having his financial conditions scrutinized by the public at large.
- To eliminate avoidable disputes and litigation, the debtor must have acknowledged his indebtedness, lest he possibly deny it at a subsequent time.
- The debtor must be subject to the application of legal judgments.
- There must not be enmity between the purchaser and the debtor.
Paper money as certificate of debt which can be generally bought and sold is thus hit by a wide array of disqualifying provisos according to the only madhhab broadly allowing the sale of a debt (though not the madhhab of the author of the investigated fatwā).
“In short, when banknotes were regarded as promissory notes or receipts for the payment of gold, it would have been permissible to use them as media of exchange”.
AS WE HAVE SEEN, PAPER MONEY AS PROMISSORY NOTE IS A SUBTERFUGE FOR RIBĀ AND IS DISCONNECTED FROM HAWĀLAH.
IT IS FORBIDDEN BY THE LAW.
Impermissibility of fiat currency as money in itself
Whatever is said in this regard is subject to the rider that paper money is only a tiny fraction of fictional money leased by the banking system as a hybrid fungible / non-fungible, in an age where the boundaries between mu’min and kāfir are erased as quickly as those between men and women or adults and children.
We might group all forms of bank money, fiat or otherwise, under this critique, since the applicable proof is the same.
“Based on this, the vast majority of contemporary jurists favour the opinion that paper money is to be regarded as a form of money, and not a promissory note or receipt.”
This argument is another staple one by which falsehood seeks to silence truth:
We are many, you are but a few (and may Allah prolong the life of these blessed few), so you should yield to the scholarly equivalent of vox populi.
“Orthodoxy” marries secular democracy and theorizes the virtue of numerical superiority: self-styled Muslims throughout the leaderless ummah can cast their vote on the preferred ruling.
How many people are backing up Muhammad here in Makkah, and how many wish to see him exiled, silenced, tortured or slain?
“Those who hold that it is impermissible to use paper money as a medium of exchange argue that banknotes have no intrinsic value, and (that) the ‘value’ assigned to them has merely been imposed by the state. In other words, they are ‘fiat currency,’ that is, given the status of ‘money’ by governments while having no intrinsic value themselves. Hence, they argue, since in a valid sale both of the items that are exchanged must be wealth (māl) and must have intrinsic value, it is not permissible to deal in paper money. Instead, according to them, we must revert to the use of gold and silver as media of exchange”.
One should note how the Hanafī Mufti pays lip-service to what the noble stalwarts of his own madhhab have stated over the centuries:
Sale is the exchange of a lawfully enjoyable proprietary asset (māl mutaqawwim) for another.
Open all the main juristic texts of that madhhab, and you will see that prominently in black and white.
We should further note the Mufti’s crafty use of the phrase “paper money as a medium of exchange”. By that, he has stealthily sealed in his own favour the discussion as to whether money is purely a medium of exchange, or whether more is needed to qualify as money.
“Yes, some people talk about intrinsic value but … Let us decide whether this or that medium of exchange can suffice”.
This crafty stratagem is uncompromisingly refuted.
Money is not merely a medium of exchange.
It is also a commodity of intrinsic value which has beneficial use in other guises. It is a proprietary asset in itself and a storable measure of the value of other things (goods and services).
That is how Islam has always viewed it before modernist capitulation to the dominant humanist worldview.
Gold and silver are commodities, they have intrinsic worth, they have multiple possible uses other than as currency, and they reliably function as measures of value and as media of exchange.
“This argument is also misplaced. In fact, many early jurists have stated explicitly that a form of currency in vogue at their time, referred to as fulūs or artificial currency, holds the same status as dirhams.
Fulūs contained neither gold nor silver, and were thus ‘fiat currency’ in much the same way banknotes are today. Moreover, the jurists have stated that this status of fulūs is based on human conventions and the value assigned to them by people. From amongst the jurists, Imām Mālik, too, approved of using fulūs as mediums of exchange. Moreover, fulūs were used in the time of the Sahābah”.
Fulūs were real tokens. They were not a fiction leased by an anonymous banking system, as if a non-fungible, at interest and with additional miscellaneous charges imposed by the restrictive owner / lessor;
Fulūs were never equated in Islam to gold and silver. They were treated separately. Books on weights, measures and coins by our real savants, such as the Andalusian Abu’l-‘Abbās Ahmad al-‘Azafī and the Egyptian Taqiyyud-Dīn al-Maqrīzī, focused on gold and silver. ‘Ayn was only gold and silver, which is why zakāt was levied on them and not on fulūs. Surely, if fulūs and bank money created ex nihilo share the same effective cause and are thus analogically equated, the supporters of the fatwā herein examined should remove bank money from the compass of taxable assets in the Law. They do not do it, though: When it suits them, bank money is the same as fulūs, and when it suits them, it is the same as gold and silver. Opposites meet in this strange epoch of chiaroscuro sorcery;
Fulūs were only used as small coinage for small transactions. They were never meant to replace gold and silver as central currency and make them redundant. They never confined the twin previous metals to vaults. Their creation and circulation were contained;
Fulūs were the genuine product of people’s free choice to cater for the needs of the poorer strata of society. They genuinely originated in “human conventions and the value assigned to them by people”, to borrow the words of the fatwā. By contrast, bank money is the direct offspring of calculatingly cruel and greedy usury. At least Bitcoin is free from governmental imposition or control, and does not allow a near-limitless expansion of its supply;
A modern scholar, ‘Abdus-Samad Clarke, correctly points out the following: “The values of the gold dīnār and silver dirham depended on their weight and the purity of their precious metals. The value of the fulūs, on the contrary, did not depend on the value of the copper, but rather on the number printed on their faces. They were merely tokens for the small transactions for which even small silver coins would be too valuable.
This is a matter that is beyond controversy (…).
Shaykh Mahmūd Effendi said, ‘This (dīnār and dirham) is the currency of the Muslims, but you must have the fulūs, for two reasons: there is no zakāt on fulūs because they are not precious metals, and the widow must be able to buy her bread, a loaf of bread, with an untaxed currency that allows her to be halāl in all her transactions’”;
Fulūs eased matters for the poor, and owed their existence to that noble societal purpose. Paper money enriches the rich usurers, and was born as an instrument of evil control. Based on true considerations of public interest and societal wellbeing, true maslahah, the Islamic leadership would ensure that fulūs remain what they always purported to be, and never metamorphose into the property of a few private individuals hoarding real currency and lifting it out of circulation.
The legalistic perspective from which the matter is looked at in the fatwā is ominously collusive with usurious banking, apart from being technically unsound as well. More than the technical errors, it is the underlying human approach that is saddening and bespeaks of the collapse of Islamic ethos amid formerly orthodox circles.
“Furthermore, customs and norms (‘urf) play a large role in determining what is and what is not regarded as “wealth” in the Sharī‘ah”.
Here “orthodoxy”, more specifically Hanafī “orthodoxy” from the Subcontinent, fades into modernist minimalism (what Ustādh Bradiperr wittily labels “Shrink-to-fit” or “Cut and crop” Islam), and relies on its standardized arguments.
The nomenclature of the Mālikiyyah (the theorists of custom as a secondary source of the Law) is borrowed, but not the essence underpinning it.
The fatwā is telling us that custom, to be more precise the custom of secular kuffār, to be more precise the custom of monopolistic leaders of secular kufr driven by usury, which they impose on fellow humans (the opposite of a freely chosen conventional practice!), can create a judgment of the Law to begin with.
Every novice in the field of usūl al-fiqh knows that not to be the case.
The customs of Muslim can only qualify, specify or clarify an existing judgment of the Law, provided they are not inconsistent with the Law, which is certainly not the case with the fungible/non-fungible of a leased monetary fiction.
Custom (let alone the practice of monopolistic usurers) cannot create a judgment anew, such as “the fictional money issued by our system is permissible in the Law”.
This is a vast subject, one on which much has been beneficially written by scholars, and no expanded treatment is possible in this narrow context.
It is a subject where purposive fiqh has full right of place.
For instance, the Mauritanian great al-Wallātī wrote in Nayl as-Sūl ‘alā Murtaqā al-Wusūl, when describing custom in the Law:
“Everything which souls acknowledge, so long as the Sharī`ah does not refute it”; “Custom is what intelligent people know to be good, which has been endorsed by the Lawgiver”.
With the fiction of bank money:
Souls recoil from it, which is why no human society (and no Islamic society in particular) ever conceived of it until this era of sinking nobility. No wise man in history promoted such a fantasy, and people of discernment, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, have fiercely combated it, whether it is an Ezra Pound or designers of alternatives, from rice to Bitcoin;
The Lawgiver discards its legitimacy, as repeatedly clarified by us here, since it is part and parcel of the ribā the Lawgiver has declared war against.
The gifted usūlī from Makkah the Venerated, Hasan al-Mashshāt, put it clearly in his Al-Jawāhir ath-Thamīnah fī Bayān Adillah ‘Ālim al-Madīnah: “Customs are acted upon in the Law so long as they do not contradict a legal evidence, for then it would be incumbent to discard them and follow the legal evidence instead.
The meaning of “acted upon” is that some of the derivative judgments of the Law might be qualified (tuqayyad) or specified (tukhassas) by customs, as we mentioned previously. It does not mean that customs are acted upon in all the branches of the Law. They are only acted upon in those derivative judgments in respect of which the Law has entrusted the matter to custom”.
He then lists several examples quoted from al-Wallātī’s aforesaid Nayl as-Sūl, such as the quantum of customary maintenance wives or close blood relatives can demand as of right, which types of home furniture are assigned to men and women respectively, and which words and phrases are paid regard to in oaths or contractual clauses.
• The ribā of bank money is diametrically opposed to the Law. The legal evidence vetoing it must therefore be acted upon;
• The Lawgiver has not entrusted to the mukallafūn the right to accept as good the imposed fiction of usurious kāfir money. The Lawgiver has not conferred on them the right to use anything as money, whether it is wealth or fiction. In the same manner, if the custom of the humanists is for a wife to provide maintenance for the husband or for the State to maintain every set of spouses, the existing rule of the Law to the contrary cannot be displaced;
• Custom in a given time and place can determine how much maintenance a husband is obliged to allocate to his wife. A general judgment of the Law (‘āmm) or an unqualified one (mutlaq) can legitimately be specified or qualified by a customary rule where the context so permits. For instance, if the judgment of the Law is that in a lease of human services (ijārah) the exchanged countervalues, the usufruct and the corresponding fee, must be known and certain, it is permissible for custom to specify that payment of educators’ fees for teaching services should occur monthly and not, say, weekly, and that it should take place on the 25th or the last day of every month, as the case may be;
• In one of his gems, Husām al-‘Adl wa al-Insāf al-Qāti` li-Kull Mubtadi` bi-Ittibā` al-A`rāf (“The Cutting sword against every one who innovates by following customs”), al-Wallātī lambasted the slavish and thoughtless implementation of customary practices in defiance of the Book and the Sunnah. He emphasized that a learned mujtahid (and no one else) could lend probative force to custom, after the occurrence of the general, the ambivalent and the absolute in the Law, when it sought to specify it, make it unequivocal or qualify it as the case might be. His detailed presentation of the subject should be mandatory reading for every dedicated Muslim. What an ugly innovation, indeed, to take an abomination constructed by usurers, bypass the Book and the Sunnah, and enthrone it within the ummah!
• Bank money can thus not be legalized in the name of custom as a source of the Law. Its alleged legality is a new judgment of the Law, not a specification, qualification or removal of equivocation;
• The argument of the fatwā should be consistently applied to all similarly created customs of the humanists, of worldwide coinage and with worldwide public support, such as the alleged legality of homosexual marriages and adoptions.
“Ibn ‘Aibdīn ash-Shāmī said:
“The meaning of ‘wealth’ (māl) is that which [human] nature inclines towards, and it is possible to store it for a time of need. The attribute of wealth is established by the people regarding [it] as wealth”.”
The noble Ibn ‘Ābidīn has stated the truth.
• Human nature, whenever it was on the fitrah, was disinclined to a leased fiction as money in the hands of an integrated network of few powerful individuals and families, which is why it never dreamt of institutionalizing such evil;
• Electronic impulses, nearly all of bank money today, cannot be stored for any time of need. They are not wealth. They are worthless in themselves. How can the author of the fatwā not be awake to such an obvious truth he pushes aside to embrace secular nihilism?!
“Ibn ‘Aibdīn ash-Shāmī said: “The attribute of wealth is established by the people regarding [it] as wealth”.”
“It is also undoubtedly true that in today’s world, fiat currency is accepted by the masses without any coercion or force, and out of free will”.
Again a stereotyped modernist rationalization is appropriated by “orthodoxy”.
• We have already amply shown that people do not freely choose fictional leased money, which is very costly, erodes their purchasing power, and leaves them poor or destitute and powerless. Given freedom to choose without propagandistic indoctrination, they would go for true wealth;
• The author of the fatwā must be kidding that the masses freely and voluntarily cast their vote of preference for an impoverishing instrument of plutocratic control. Let the various possibilities be argued for, and let the Muslim peoples and the masses of the world vote in a referendum as to which money they would like to use.
“Hence, the correct Shar‘ī position is that in today’s time, banknotes are legitimate media of exchange”.
Based on the foregoing, and all the ramified implications of the foregoing which we do not have time here to explore in detail, it has been established beyond reasonable doubt that:
• Money is not a mere medium of exchange;
• Banknotes are but a tiny speck of existing bank money;
• Bank money is ribā, one of the major sins in Islam, and one of the seven major agents of destruction (mūbiqāt) as termed by the Prophet of mercy, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam;
• “Orthodoxy” has betrayed its followers, attracted by a show of stern rejection of innovative modernism, and they should look elsewhere for the pure Dīn.
“The view that it is impermissible to use them as a medium of exchange is a minority position which, besides being impractical, is not supported by sound arguments from Islamic jurisprudence”.
Based on the foregoing, and all the ramified implications of the foregoing which we do not have time here to explore in detail, it has been established beyond reasonable doubt that:
• Money is not a mere medium of exchange;
• Banknotes and all bank money are unlawful usury;
• The leaders of kufr are the ones empowered by bank money;
• A juristic view acquires no probative strength or legitimacy from the number of those voicing it;
• The only recognized position is the truth, even if only one person throughout the planet upholds it, as stated by the Siddīq to ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with both of them, when explaining why he would fight the withholders of zakāt regardless of the degree of external support;
• The sound evidences from the Law show the fatwā herein examined to be founded on convenient surrender to banking dominance. Its psychological genesis is the conceited determination to present, to oneself and to others, a false image of undiluted piety and correctness in the Dīn;
• There is nothing impractical in humbly standing by the truth. If one can avoid bank money in real life, that is the potent nectar; if not, one can use it permissibly out of compelling necessity, only to the extent of that necessity as the relevant arch-rule of the Law teaches us, so long as he is conscious of its unlawfulness at source, of its criminal nature, actively works to move out of it and to enable his fellow believers and fellow humans to do the same, and so long as he does not acquiesce in it as if it were acceptable in itself and does not leisurely seek to perpetuate that state of compelling necessity, in the same way as a victim of crash-lending is not allowed to eat human cadavers indefinitely if able to exit compulsion;
• The fatwā under examination herein is an attempt to induce Muslims to accept the crime of usury as compatible with the Law, as an ongoing normative practice which should not be fought and uprooted, while perversely fighting the very Muslims who heroically oppose it for the sake of Allah;
• The fatwā only benefits banking. Mercy to ourselves, to believers and to humanity dictates to us the need to promote a return to just money and monetary justice.
Checked and Approved by