During the Islamic Golden Age, early forms of proto-capitalism and free markets were present in the Caliphate, where an early market economy and early form of merchant capitalism was developed between the 8th-12th centuries, which some refer to as "Islamic capitalism". A vigorous monetary economy was created on the basis of the expanding levels of circulation of a stable high-value currency (the dinar) and the integration of monetary areas that were previously independent.
A number of innovative concepts and techniques were introduced in early Islamic banking, including contracts, bills of exchange, long-distance international trade, the first forms of partnership (mufawada) such as limited partnerships (mudaraba), and the earliest forms of credit, debt, profit, loss, capital (al-mal), capital accumulation (nama al-mal), circulating capital, capital expenditure, revenue, cheques, promissory notes, trusts (see Waqf), startup companies, savings accounts, transactional accounts, pawning, loaning, exchange rates, bankers, money changers, ledgers, deposits, assignments, and lawsuits. Organizational enterprises similar to corporations independent from the state also existed in the medieval Islamic world, while the agency institution was also introduced. Many of these early capitalist concepts were adopted and further advanced in medieval Europe from the 13th century onwards.
The common view of riba (usury) among classical jurists of Islamic law and economics during the Islamic Golden Age was that it is only riba and therefore unlawful to apply interest to money exnatura sua—exclusively gold and silver currencies—but that it is not riba and is therefore acceptable to apply interest to fiat money—currencies made up of other materials such as paper or base metals—to an extent. The definition of riba in classical Islamic jurisprudence was "surplus value without counterpart." When "currencies of base metal were first introduced in the Islamic world, no jurist ever thought that paying a debt in a higher number of units of this fiat money was riba" as they were concerned with the real value of money (determined by weight only) rather than the numerical value. For example, it was acceptable for a loan of 1000 gold dinars to be paid back as 1050 dinars of equal aggregate weight (i.e., the value in terms of weight had to be same because all makes of coins did not carry exactly similar weight). The rationale behind riba according to classical Islamic jurists was "to ensure equivalency in real value" and that the "numerical value was immaterial (or it was not of any concern at that time)."
In 1972, the Mit Ghamr Savings project became part of Nasr Social Bank which, till date, is still in business in Egypt. In 1975, the Islamic Development Bank was set-up with the mission to provide funding to projects in the member countries. The first modern commercial Islamic bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, opened its doors in 1975. In the early years, the products offered were basic and strongly founded on conventional banking products, but in the last few years the industry is starting to see strong development in new products and services.
In an Islamic mortgage transaction, instead of loaning the buyer money to purchase the item, a bank might buy the item itself from the seller, and re-sell it to the buyer at a profit, while allowing the buyer to pay the bank in installments. However, the fact that it is profit cannot be made explicit and therefore there are no additional penalties for late payment. In order to protect itself against default, the bank asks for strict collateral. The goods or land is registered to the name of the buyer from the start of the transaction. This arrangement is called Murabaha. Another approach is EIjara wa EIqtina, which is similar to real-estate leasing. Islamic banks handle loans for vehicles in a similar way (selling the vehicle at a higher-than-market price to the debtor and then retaining ownership of the vehicle until the loan is paid).
An innovative approach applied by some banks for home loans are called Musyaraka al-Mutanaqisa that allows for a floating rate in the form of rental. The bank and borrower forms a partnership entity, both providing capital at an agreed percentage to purchase the property. The partnership entity then rent out the property to the borrower and charges rent. The bank and the borrower will then share the proceed from this rent based on the current equity share of the partnership. At the same time, the borrower in the partnership entity also buys the bank's share on the property at agreed installments until the full equity is transferred to the borrower and the partnership is ended. If default occurs, both the bank and the borrower receives the proceeds from an auction based on the current equity. This method allows for floating rates according to current market rate such as the BLR (base lending rate), especially in a dual-banking system like in Malaysia.
There are several other approaches used in business deals. Islamic banks lend their money to companies by issuing floating rate interest loans. The floating rate of interest is pegged to the company's individual rate of return. Thus the bank's profit on the loan is equal to a certain percentage of the company's profits. Once the principal amount of the loan is repaid, the profit-sharing arrangement is concluded. This practice is called Musharaka. Further, Mudaraba is venture capital funding of an entrepreneur who provides labor while financing is provided by the bank so that both profit and risk are shared. Such participatory arrangements between capital and labor reflect the Islamic view that the borrower must not bear all the risk/cost of a failure, resulting in a balanced distribution of income and not allowing lender to monopolize the economy.
And finally, Islamic banking is restricted to Islamically acceptable deals, which exclude those involving alcohol, pork, gambling, etc. Thus ethical investing is the only acceptable form of investment, and moral purchasing is encouraged. In theory, Islamic banking is an example of full-reserve banking, with banks achieving a 100% reserve ratio. However, in practice, this is not the case, and no examples of 100 per cent reserve banking are observed
Islamic banks have grown recently in the Muslim world but are a very small share of the global banking system. Micro-lending institutions founded by Muslims, notably Grameen Bank, use conventional lending practices and are popular in some Muslim nations, especially Bangladesh, but some do not consider them true Islamic banking. However, Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and microfinance banking, and other supporters of microfinance, argue that the lack of collateral and lack of excessive interest in micro-lending is consistent with the Islamic prohibition of usury (riba).
In Malaysia, the National Shariah Advisory Council, which additionally set up at Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), advises BNM on the Shariah aspects of the operations of these institutions and on their products and services. (See: Islamic banking in Malaysia)
Literally bai muajjal means a credit sale. Technically, it is a financing technique adopted by Islamic banks that takes the form of murabaha muajjal. It is a contract in which the bank earns a profit margin on the purchase price and allows the buyer to pay the price of the commodity at a future date in a lump sum or in installments. It has to expressly mention cost of the commodity and the margin of profit is mutually agreed. The price fixed for the commodity in such a transaction can be the same as the spot price or higher or lower than the spot price.
This type of transaction is similar to rent-to-own arrangements for furniture or appliances that are very common in North American stores.
Ijarah conserves capital as it may provide 100% financing.
Ijarah enables the Lessee to have the use of the equipment on payment of the first rental. This is important since it is the use (and not ownership) of the equipment that generates income.
Ijarah arrangements are flexible because the terms and rental provision may be tailored to suit the needs of the Lessee. Therefore, it aids corporate planning and budgeting
Ijarah is not borrowing and is therefore not required to be disclosed as a liability in the Balance Sheet of the Lessee. Being an "off-balance-sheet" financing, it is not included in the computation of gearing ratios imposed by bankers. The borrowing capacity of the Lessee is therefore not impaired when leasing is resorted to as a mean of financing.
All payments of rentals are treated as payment of operating expenses and are therefore, fully tax-deductible. Leasing therefore offers tax-advantages to profit making concerns.
There are many types of equipment, which become obsolete before the end of their actual economic life. This is particularly true in high technology equipment like computers. Thus the risk is passed onto the Lessor who will undoubtedly charge a premium into the lease rate to compensate for the risk. A Lessee may be willing to pay the said premium as an insurance against obsolescence.
If the equipment use is for a relatively short period of time, it may be more profitable to lease than to buy.
If the equipment is for short duration and the equipment has a very poor second hand value (resale value), leasing would be the best method for acquisition.
The bank generates a profit by determining in advance the cost of the item, its residual value at the end of the term and the time value or profit margin for the money being invested in purchasing the product to be leased for the intended term. The combining of these three figures becomes the basis for the contract between the Bank and the client for the initial lease contract.
This type of transaction is similar to the contractum trinius, a legal maneuver used by European bankers and merchants during the Middle Ages to sidestep the Church's prohibition on interest bearing loans. In a contractum, two parties would enter into three concurrent and interrelated legal contracts, the net effect being the paying of a fee for the use of money for the term of the loan. The use of concurrent interrelated contracts is also prohibited under Shariah Law.
Conservative estimates suggest that over US$500 billion of assets are managed according to Islamic investment principles. Such principles form part of Shariah, which is often understood to be Islamic law, but it is actually broader than this in that it also encompasses the general body of spiritual and moral obligations and duties in Islam.
In modern business, one of the ways to reduce the risk of loss due to misfortunes is through insurance which spreads the risk among many people. The concept of insurance where resources are pooled to help the needy does not contradict Shariah. However, conventional insurance involves the elements of uncertainty (Al-gharar) in the contract of insurance, gambling (Al-maisir) as the consequences of the presence of uncertainty and interest (Al-riba) in the investment activities of the conventional insurance companies. These factors (uncertainty, gambling and interest) contravene the rules of Shariah. It is generally accepted by Muslim jurists that the operation of conventional insurance does not conform to the rules and requirements of Shariah.
Despite these successes, this market has seen a record of poor marketing as emphasis is on products and not on addressing the needs of investors. Over the last few years, quite a number of funds have closed down. Most of the funds tend to target high net worth individuals and corporate institutions, with minimum investments ranging from US$50,000 to as high as US$1 million. Target markets for Islamic funds vary, some cater for their local markets, e.g., Malaysia and Gulf-based investment funds. Others clearly target the Middle East and Gulf regions, neglecting local markets and have been accused of failing to serve Muslim communities.
Since the launch of Islamic equity funds in the early 1990s, there has been the establishment of credible equity benchmarks by Dow Jones Islamic market index and the FTSE Global Islamic Index Series. The Web site failaka.com monitors the performance of Islamic equity funds and provide a comprehensive list of the Islamic funds worldwide.
The Hanafi madhab (legal school) in Islam defines gharar as "that whose consequences are hidden." The Shafi legal school defined gharar as "that whose nature and consequences are hidden" or "that which admits two possibilities, with the less desirable one being more likely." The Hanbali school defined it as "that whose consequences are unknown" or "that which is undeliverable, whether it exists or not." Ibn Hazm of the Zahiri school wrote "Gharar is where the buyer does not know what he bought, or the seller does not know what he sold." The modern scholar of Islam, Professor Mustafa Al-Zarqa, wrote that "Gharar is the sale of probable items whose existence or characteristics are not certain, due to the risky nature that makes the trade similar to gambling." There are a number of hadith who forbid trading in gharar, often giving specific examples of gharhar transactions (e.g., selling the birds in the sky or the fish in the water, the catch of the diver, an unborn calf in its mother's womb etc.). Jurists have sought many complete definitions of the term. They also came up with the concept of yasir (minor risk); a financial transaction with a minor risk is deemed to be halal (permissible) while trading in non-minor risk (bayu al-ghasar) is deemed to be haram.
What gharar is, exactly, was never fully decided upon by the Muslim jurists. This was mainly due to the complication of having to decide what is and is not a minor risk. Derivatives instruments (such as stock options) have only become common relatively recently. Some Islamic banks do provide brokerage services for stock trading and perhaps even for derivatives trading.
Taking part in the budget debate, M.P. Bhindara, a minority MNA [Member of the National Assembly]...referred to a decree by an Al-Azhar University's scholar that bank interest was not un-Islamic. He said without interest the country could not get foreign loans and could not achieve the desired progress. A pandemonium broke out in the house over his remarks as a number of MMA members...rose from their seats in protest and tried to respond to Mr Bhindara's observations. However, they were not allowed to speak on a point of order that led to their walkout.... Later, the opposition members were persuaded by a team of ministers...to return to the house...the government team accepted the right of the MMA to respond to the minority member's remarks.... Sahibzada Fazal Karim said the Council of Islamic ideology had decreed that interest in all its forms was haram in an Islamic society. Hence, he said, no member had the right to negate this settled issue
Some Islamic banks do compensate and charge for the time value of money, thus paying and receiving what is known in economics as interest. Such people compare Islamic banking to contractum trinius—a legal trick devised by European bankers and merchants during the Middle Ages, designed to facilitate the borrowing of money at a fixed rate of interest (something that the Church fiercely opposed) through combining three different contractual agreements that in and of themselves were not prohibited by the Church. While Islamic law prohibits the collection of interest, it does allow a seller to resell an item at a higher price than it was bought for, as long as there are clearly two transactions.
Islamic Banks (such as Islami Bank) in Bangladesh have added their own variation to Islamic Banking. They charge a fixed fee, what they termed as a 'markup'. This markup is a constant amount decided by the bank which is added to the loan but is not dependent on the success of the business. It serves as an acceptable loophole to collecting interest. Also these banks will take part in profit-sharing but will not take part in any losses. Their success have been in convincing people of their religious mandate but at the same time have exploited every nuance of the mandate.
These arguments and criticism are exactly the same as those used at the time of Muhammad. The Qur'an addresses this issue in simple terms, saying that usury (Riba) is forbidden by Allah, while trade has been permitted by him:
"Those who devour usury will not stand except as stand one whom the Evil one by his touch Hath driven to madness. That is because they say: "Trade is like usury," but Allah hath permitted trade and forbidden usury. Those who after receiving direction from their Lord, desist, shall be pardoned for the past; their case is for Allah (to judge); but those who repeat (The offence) are companions of the Fire: They will abide therein (for ever)." (Surah Baqarah 2:275) - http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/002.qmt.html
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