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Murabaha

ing is the same,[16] as is most everything else besides


the terminology used.[17]

Not to be confused with Murabba.


Murabaah, murabaa or murbaah (Arabic: ,
derived from ribh Arabic: , the term for prot) is a
term of Islamic qh or jurisprudence for a sale where the
buyer and seller agree on the markup for the item(s) being
sold.[1] In recent decades it has become a term for a form
of Islamic (i.e. "shariah compliant) nancing, and involves the buyer using Murabahah as a mechanism to borrow money, paying the seller (who serves as a lender) the
marked up price with deferred payments.[2] It has been
called the most prevalent[2] or default type of Islamic
nance.[3]

1 Islamic nance, use, varieties


Murbaah is one of three types of bayu-al-amanah
(duciary sale), requiring an honest declaration of cost.
(The other two types are tawliyah -- sale at cost -- and wadiah -- sale at specied loss.)
Many scholars believe that the seller may not use
Murbaah if prot-sharing modes of nancing such as
mudarabah or musharakah are practicable.[5][6] But since
those involve risks, they cannot guarantee banks income.
Murabahah, with its xed margin, oers the seller (i.e.
the bank) a more predictable income stream. One estimate is that 80% of Islamic lending is by Murabahah.[18]
M. Kabir Hassan reports that murabah accounts are quite
protable. As of 2005, the average cost eciency for
murabah was 74%, whereas average prot eciency
even higher at 84%. Hassan states, although Islamic
banks are less ecient in containing cost, they are generally ecient in generating prot.[19]

Because the buyer/borrower pays the seller/lender at an


agreed upon higher price, instead of interest charges
(which would be forbidden as riba), the contract involves
a prot on the sale of goods, which is permissible in
Islam.[2][4] Some conservative Islamic nance scholars
consider murabaha as a transitory step towards a true
prot-and-loss-sharing mode of nancing",[5] and a form
to be used where prot-and-loss-sharing is not practicable. [5][6]

The basis of Murabaha nancing has been called "costplus"[7] and is similar to a rent-to-own arrangement, with
Islamic banker and author Harris Irfan writes that use of
the intermediary (i.e. the lending bank) retaining ownermurabaha has become so distorted from its original in[8]
ship of the property until the loan is paid in full.
tent that it has become the single most common method
A proper murbaah transaction diers from conven- of funding inter-bank liquidity and corporate loans in the
tional loans in a number of other ways. After the Islamic nance industry.[20] A number of economists
murbaah contract is signed, the amount being nanced have noted the dominance of Murabahah in Islamic cannot be increased in case of late payment or default, nor nance, despite its theological inferiority to prot and loss
can a penalty be imposed, unless the buyer has deliber- sharing.[21][22][23] One scholar has coined the term the
ately refused to make a payment.[9] The seller also has to murabaha syndrome to describe this.[24]
assume any liability from delivering defective goods.[9]
The accounting treatment of Murbaah, and its discloSources dier as to whether charges for late payments are
sure and presentation in nancial statements, vary from
allowed,[10] with some authors stating late fees ought to be
bank to bank. If the exact cost of the item(s) cannot be
donated to charity.[11][12][13] Proper Murbaah involves
or are not ascertained, they are sold on the basis of muguidelines, (such as the bank taking actual possession of
sawamah (bargaining).[2] Dierent banks use this instruthe good before selling it to the customer), to ensure that
ment in varying ratios. Typically, banks use murabahah
a Murbaah transaction is based on trade between the
in asset nancing, property, micronance and commodbank and the customer and not merely a nancing transity import-export.[25] The International Monetary Fund
action.
reports that, Murbaah transactions are widely used to
Critics/skeptics complain/note that in practice most trans- nance international trade, as well as for interbank actions are merely cash-ows between banks, brokers and nancing and liquidity management through a multistep
borrowers, with no buying or selling of commodities;[14] transaction known as tawarruq, often using commodities
that the prot or mark-up is based on the prevail- traded on the London Metal Exchange (LME).[9]
ing interest rate used in haram lending by the nonThe basic murabaha transaction is a cost-plus-prot purMuslim world;[15] that the nancial outlook of Islamic
chase where the item the bank purchases is something
Murabaha nancing and conventional debt/loan nancthe customer wants but does not have cash at the time
1

CHALLENGES AND CRITICISM

to buy directly.[26] However, there are other murabaha the transactions taking place.[14] Frank Vogel and Samuel
transactions where the customer wants cash and the prod- Hayes also note multi-billion-dollar murabaha transacuct/commodity the bank buys is a means to an end.
tions in London popular for many years where many
doubt the banks truly assume possession, even constructively, of inventory, a key condition of a religiously ac1.1 Bay' al-Ina
ceptable murabaha. [Note 1]
(Also Bay' al-'Inah). This simple form of Murabahah involves the lender buying some object from the borrower
for cash, then selling the object back to the borrower at a
higher price, with payment to be deferred over time. The
borrower now has cash and will be paying the lender 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.[27] It was used
by a number of modern Islamic nancial institutions despite condemnation by jurists, but in recent years its use
is very much limited.[28]

Islamic banker Irfan bemoans the fact that not only is


the murabaha money market insuciently 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.[32]

1.2

Islamic banks using this transaction maintain it does not


involve interest because the amount that Adam owes is
xed and does not increase if he is delinquent on payments. Therefore, we are simply looking at a standard
sale wherein a trader buys an item for one price and sells it
for an increased price. Another argument that murahaba
is shariah compliant is that it is made up of two transactions, both halal (permissible):

Bay' al-Tawarruq

Tawarruq (also called commodity murabaha) diers


from bay al-ina by involving a third party in addition to
the borrower and Islamic bank. In Tawarruq the borrower
would buy some amount of a commodity from the bank to
be paid in installments over the next two years and sell that
commodity on the spot market (the commodity buyer being the third party) for cash.[28][29][30] 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 a spot buyer for $10,000 in cash.
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.[31] The IMF
states that tawarruq has become controversial among
Shariah scholars because of its divergence of its use
from the spirit of Islamic nance.[9] But some prominent
scholars have tolerated commodity murabaha for the
growth of the [Islamic nance] industry.[3] Irfan states
that (at least as of 2015) Sharia boards of some banks
(such as Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank), have taken a state
against Tawarruq and were looking at 'purer' forms of
funding (such as mudarabah).[32]

Challenges and criticism

Murbaah has been criticised by Islamic Scholars who


say it should only be used as a structure of last resort
where no other structure is available. In practice, in most
transactions the commodities never change hands (the
commodity never appears on the banks balance sheet[3] )
and sometimes there are no commodities at all, merely
cash-ows between banks, brokers and borrowers. Often the commodity is completely irrelevant to the borrowers business and not even enough of the relevant commodities are in existence in the world to account for all

An example of a Murabaha contract is: Adam approaches


a Murabaha bank in order to nance the purchase of
a $10,000 automobile from Cash-Only-Automobiles.
The bank agrees to purchase the automobile from CashOnly-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.

Does Islam allow someone to buy a car for $10,000 and


sell it for $12,000? Yes.
Does Islam allow someone to make a purchase on a deferred payment basis? Yes.
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:
1. Cash-Only-Automobiles will sell him the car for
$10,000 but are not willing to wait to receive the
full price.
2. The Murabaha Bank will sell him the car for
$12,000 and is willing to wait two years to receive
the full price.
Adams choice to purchase from the Murabaha Bank reects 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 Adams 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

4.2

Citations

interest in the Murabaha contract is xed at $2,000.[17]


This amounts to a iyal or legal trick to defeat the intent of shariah.[28]

See also
Islamic banking and nance
Prot and loss sharing
FINCA Afghanistan, a Murbaah-compliant
micronance institution (MFI)
Shariah investments

[6] Usmani, Taqi. An Introduction to Islamic Finance. Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0. p.
107. Retrieved 4 August 2015. Therefore, it [Murabahah] should neither be taken as an ideal Islamic mode of
nancing, nor a universal instrument for all sorts of nancing. It should be taken as a transitory step towards the
ideal Islamic system of nancing based on musharakah or
mudarabah.
[7] Irfan, Harris (2015). Heavens Bankers. Overlook Press.
p. 135.
[8] Murabaha. Investopedia. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
[9] Hussain, Mumtaz; Shahmoradi, Asghar; Turk, Rima
(June 2015). IMF Working paper, An Overview of Islamic
Finance (PDF). p. 8. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
[10] Late Payment Charges for Islamic Financial Institutions.
Islamic Bankers : Resource Centre. Retrieved 9 July 2016.

4
4.1

References
Notes

[1] A number of scholars have recently cast doubts upon


the acceptability of one of the most widely used forms
of Islamic nance: the type of Murabaha trade nancing practiced in London. These investors and well-known
multinationals seeking lowest-cost working capital loans.
Although these multi-billion-dollar contracts have been
popular for many years, many doubt the banks truly assume possession, even constructively, of inventory, a key
condition of a religiously acceptable murabaha. Without
possession, these arrangements are condemned as nothing more than short-term conventional loans with a predetermined interest rate incorporated in the price at which
the borrower repurchases the inventory. These 'synthetic'
murabaha transactions are unacceptable to the devout
Muslim, and accordingly there is now a movement away
from murabaha investments of all types. Al-Rajhi Bank,
al-Baraka, and the Government of Sudan are among the
institutions that have vowed to phase out murabaha deals.
This development creates diculty: as Islamic banking
now operates, murabaha trade nancing is an indispensable tool.[33][34]

4.2

Citations

[1] Usmani, Taqi. An Introduction to Islamic Finance. Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0. p.
65. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
[2] Islamic Finance: Instruments and Markets. Bloomsbury
Publishing. 2010. p. 131. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
[3] Irfan, Harris (2015). Heavens Bankers. Overlook Press.
p. 139.
[4] A Simple Introduction to Islamic Mortgages. 14 May
2015.
[5] Irfan, Harris (2015). Heavens Bankers. Overlook Press.
p. 136.

[11] Visser, Hans (ed.). 4.4 Islamic Contract Law. Islamic


Finance: Principles and Practice. Edward Elgar. p. 77.
Retrieved 9 July 2016. The prevalent position, however,
seems to be that creditors may impose penalties for late
payments, which have to be donated, whether by the creditor or directly by the client, to a charity, but a at fee to
be paid to the creditor as a recompense for the cost of
collection is also acceptable to many fuqaha.
[12] Kettell, Brian (2011). The Islamic Banking and Finance
Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to help you ... Wiley.
p. 38. Retrieved 9 July 2016. The bank can only impose
penalties for late payment by agreeing to `purify` them by
donating them to charity.
[13] FAQs and Ask a Question. Is it permissible for an Islamic bank to impose penalty for late payment?". al-Yusr.
Retrieved 9 July 2016.
[14] Misused murabaha hurts industry. Arabian Business. 1
February 2008.
[15] Usmani, Taqi. An Introduction to Islamic Finance. Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0. p.
81. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
[16] Murabaha Financing VS Lending on Interest| Qazi Irfan
|July 22, 2008 | Social Science Research Network
[17] Kayali, Rakaan. Murabaha: Halal or Haram?". Practical
Islamic Finance.
[18] Haltom, Renee (Second Quarter 2014). Econ Focus. Islamic Banking, American Regulation. Federal Reserve
Bank of Richmond. Retrieved 26 August 2015. Check
date values in: |date= (help)
[19] M. Kabir HASSAN. The Cost, prot and X-eciency
of Islamic Banks, 12th Annual Conference of Economic
Research Forum, Egypt, 19-21 December, 2005.
[20] Irfan, Harris (2015). Heavens Bankers: Inside the Hidden
World of Islamic Finance. Little, Brown Book Group. p.
135. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
[21] Iqbal, Munawar, and Philip Molyneux. 2005. Thirty years
of Islamic banking: History, performance and prospects.
New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

[22] Kuran, Timur. 2004. Islam and Mammon: The economic


predicaments of Islamism. Princeton, NJ; Princeton University Press
[23] Lewis, M.K. and L.M. al-Gaud 2001. Islamic banking.
Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward
Elgar
[24] Yousef, T.M. 2004. The murabaha syndrome in Islamic
nance: Laws, institutions and policies. In Politics of Islamic nance, ed. C.M. Henry and Rodney Wilson. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
[25] Government of Pakistan: Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan
[26] MAKE PURCHASES WITH COST PLUS PROFIT
(MURABAHA) CONTRACTS. dummies.com. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
[27] Glossary of Financial Terms - B. Institute of Islamic
Banking and Insurance. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
[28] Irfan, Harris (2015). Heavens Bankers: Inside the Hidden
World of Islamic Finance. Overlook Press. p. 137.
[29] What is the Dierence Bay' al-Tawarruq and Bay' alInah?". Investment and Finance. Jan 11, 2014. Retrieved
9 July 2016.
[30] Fiqh Muamalat. Bay' al-Tawarruq. scribd.com. Universiti Teknologi Mara. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
[31] Irfan, Harris (2015). Heavens Bankers: Inside the Hidden
World of Islamic Finance. Overlook Press. p. 138.
[32] Irfan, Harris (2015). Heavens Bankers: Inside the Hidden
World of Islamic Finance. Overlook Press. p. 226.
[33] Frank VOGEL and Samuel Hayes, III. Islamic Law and
Finance: Religion, Risk and Return [The Hague: Kluwer
Law International, 1998], pp.8-9
[34] Farooq, Riba-Interest Equation and Islam, 2005: p.19

External links
World Database for Islamic Banking and Finance

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