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Ajr = commission or fee charged for services

Bai al Arboon = down payment sale

A sale agreement in which a down payment is provided in advance as part payment towards the price of the commodity for reserving the commodity. The down payment is forfeited if the buyer does not return to take the commodity and the seller is entitled to sell the commodity.

Bai Bithaman Ajil = deferred payment sale

Also known as Bai Mu'ajjal or Bai al-Aajil.
A sale on a deferred payment basis. Equipment or goods are sold by the bank to the client for an agreed lump sum price which includes the profit required by the bank without disclosing the cost. The client may pay by installments within a pre-agreed period, or in a lump sum.

Bai Dayn = debt trading
A sale and purchase of commercial papers that represent receivables and securitization of loans and financial liabilities.

Bai Inah = sale and buy-back

The sale and buy-back of an asset for a higher price than that for which the seller originally sold it.
A seller immediately buys back the asset the Seller has sold on a deferred payment basis at a price higher than the original price. This can be seen as a loan in the form of a sale.

Bai Istijrar = supply sale

When a supplier agrees to deliver to a client on a regular basis at an agreed price and mode of payment.

Bai Muajjal = see Bai Bithaman Ajil

Bai Muzayadah = open bidding trading

The principle governing open auctions, where the asset is awarded to the highest bidder. (This is not a definition).

Bai Wafa (or Bai Thunya, Bai Uhda, Bai al-Amana, Bai al-Ta'a, Bai Al-Ja'iz) = Discharge sale /Return Sale
A sale and purchase between the client and the bank at a price on condition that whenever the client pays back the purchase price, the Bank shall return the commodity to the client or vice versa. It is also known as Thunya Sale, Trust Sale, Liability Sale, Obedience Sale and Acceptable Sale.

Baitul Mal = treasury

Batil = null and void

Darura = necessity

In an emergency, Muslims may disregard aspects of Shari'a laws in order to save their lives, or to preserve the Islamic community.

Dirham = unit of currency

A unit of currency, usually a silver coin, used in the past in some Muslim countries and still used in some Muslim countries today, for example Morocco and the UAE.

Fard al Kifa'i = socially obligatory duties

Alternative spelling= Fard Kifaya

A collective duty of Muslims. The performance of these duties (for example funeral prayers) by some Muslims absolves the rest from discharging them.
This term covers functions which the community fails to or cannot perform and hence is taken over by the estate, such as the provision of utilities, or the building of roads, bridges and canals.

Fasid = unsound or unviable

A forbidden term in a contract, which consequently renders the contract invalid.

Fatwa = religious decree

Alternative spelling = Fatwah

Fiqh = Islamic jurisprudence

The science of the Shari'a. An important source of Islamic economics.

Faqih = Shari'a jurist

Plural = Fuqaha

Gharar = uncertainty

One of three fundamental prohibitions in Islamic finance (the other two being Riba and Maysir). Gharar is a sophisticated concept that covers certain types of haram uncertainty in a contract. It is an exchange in which one or more parties stand to be deceived through ignorance of an essential element of the exchange. Gambling is a form of Gharar because the gambler is ignorant of the result of the gamble.

The prohibition on Gharar is often used as the grounds for criticism of conventional financial practices such as short selling, speculation and derivatives.

Hadith = the Prophet's sayings and commentary on the Quran

Hajj = pilgrimage to Mecca

There is a duty on every Muslim who is financially and physically able to carry out Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, at least once in his lifetime. The pilgrimage takes place in the week from the 8th until the 13th day of the 12thIslamic month of Dhul Hijjah.

Hak Tamalluk = ownership right

A tradable asset in the form of ownership rights.

Halal = lawful, permissible

The concept of halal has spiritual overtones. In Islam there are activities, professions, contracts and transactions that are explicitly prohibited (haram) by the Quran or the Quran. All other activities, professions, contracts and transactions are halal.

This concept differentiates Islamic economics from conventional economics. In western finance all activities are judged on economic utility. In Islamic economics, spiritual and moral factors are also involved an activity may be economically sound but may not be allowed in Islamic society if it is not forbidden by the Shari'a.

Hanbali = Islamic school of law

Islamic school of law founded by Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal. Followers of this school are known as Hanbalis.

Hanifite = Islamic school of law

One of the major Islamic school of law, founded by Imam Abu Hanifa. Followers of this school are known as Hanafis.

Haram = unlawful, forbidden
Activities, professions, contracts and transactions that are explicitly prohibited by the Quran or the Sunnah. See halal above.

Hawala = bill of exchange, remittance

Alternative spelling = Hiwala
A contract which allows a debtor to transfer his debt obligation to a third party who owes the former a debt. The mechanism of Hawala is used for settling international accounts by book transfers, thus obviating the need for a physical transfer of cash.

Hibah = gift

A gift voluntarily donated in return for a loan provided or a benefit obtained.

Hila = forbidden structure

A transaction which appears permissible, but is in fact structured in an un-Islamic way.

Ibra = rebate

When a person withdraws the right to collect payment from a borrower.

Ijarah = leasing

Alternative spelling = Ijara
A lease agreement whereby a bank or financier buys an item for a customer and then leases it to him over a specific period, thus earning profits for the bank by charging rental.
The duration of the lease and the fee are set in advance. During the period of the lease, the asset remains in the ownership of the lessor (the bank), but the lessee has the right to use it. After the expiry of the lease agreement, this right reverts back to the lessor. This is a classic Islamic financial product.

Ijarah Thumma Bai = leasing to purchase

The principle governing an Ijarah contract at the end of the lease period, when the lessee buys the asset for an agreed price through a purchase contract.

Ijarah wa Iqtina = buy-back leasing

A hire and purchase mode of financing where an Islamic bank finances equipment, a building or other facility for the client against an agreed rental, together with an undertaking from the client to repurchase the facility at the end of the contract. The rental and the purchase price are fixed so that the bank gets back its principal sum along with some predetermined profit.

Ijtehad = effort, exertion, industry

A faqhi's endeavor to formulate a rule on the basis of evidence found in the Islamic sources.

Inan = financial partnership

Istijrar = recurring sale

Different quantities are bought from a single seller over a period of time. Sometimes it is also referred to transactions whereby seller delivers different quantities in different installments to complete the full purchase. Some divergence among the scholars in terms of the timing of fixation and pricing.

Istisnah = advance purchase of goods or buildings

Alternative spellings = Istisna, Istisna'a, Istisna'ah
A contract of acquisition of goods by specification or order, where the price is paid in advance, or progressively in accordance with the progress of a job. For example, to purchase a yet to be constructed house, payments would be made to the builder according to the stage of work completed.
This type of financing, along with Salam, is used as a purchasing mechanism, and Murabahah and Bai Bithaman Ajil are for financing sales.

Ittifaq Dhimni = pre-agreed contract

The sale and repurchase of an underlying asset. Prices are agreed in advance, prior to the contract, to allow the bidding process to take place.

Ju'alal = stipulated price for performing a service

Alternative spelling = Ju'ala
Applied by some in Islamic banking. Bank charges and commission have been interpreted to be Ju'alal by the jurists and thus considered lawful.

Jahl = ignorance (of morality or divinity)

Kafalah = guarantee

Shari'a principle governing guarantees. It applies to a debt transaction in the event of a debtor failing to pay.

Loan (with service charge)

Some Islamic banks give loans with service charges. The Council of the Islamic Fiqh Academy has resolved that it is permitted to charge a fee for loan-related services offered by an Islamic bank, provided that the fee relates to service-related expenses.

The service charge can only be calculated accurately after all administrative expenditure has been incurred (at the end of the year). However it is permissible to levy an approximate charge on the client, and then reimburse/claim the difference when the actual expenses are known.

Maaliki = Islamic school of law

Islamic school of law founded by Imam Malik Ibn Anas. Followers of this school are known as Malikis.

Mansil = Shari'a compliant property mortgage in the UK

Maysir = gambling

One of three fundamental prohibitions in Islamic finance (the other two being Riba and Gharar).
The prohibition on Maysir is often used as grounds for criticism of conventional financial practices such as speculation, conventional insurance and derivatives.

Muamalat = economic transaction

Alternative spellings = Mu'amalah, Mu'amalat, Muamalah
The lease of land or fruit trees for money, or for a share of the crop.

Mudharaba = trust financing, profit sharing

Alternative spellings = Mudaraba, Modaraba, Modarabah
An investment partnership, whereby the investor (the Rab al maal ) provides capital to the entrepreneur (the mudarib) in order to undertake a business or investment activity. While profits are shared on a pre-agreed ratio, losses are born by the investor alone. The mudarib loses only his share of the expected income.

The investor has no right to interfere in the management of the business, but he can specify conditions that would ensure better management of his money. In this way Mudharaba is sometimes referred to as a sleeping partnership.

A joint Mudharaba can exist between investors and a bank on a continuing basis. The investors keep their funds in a special fund and share the profits before the liquidation of those financing operations that have not yet reached the stage of final settlement. Many Islamic investment funds operate on the basis of joint Mudharaba.

Mudarib = entrepreneur in a Mudharaba contract

The entrepreneur or investment manager in a Mudharaba who puts the investor's funds in a project or portfolio in exchange for a share of the profits. A Mudharaba is similar to a diversified pool of assets held in a discretionary asset management portfolio.

Mufawadah = equal, unlimited partnership

Murabaha = cost-plus financing

Alternative spellings = Morabaha, Morabahah, Murabaha
A form of credit that enables customers to make a purchase without having to take out an interest-bearing loan. The bank buys an item and sells it to the customer on a deferred basis. The price includes a profit margin agreed by both parties. Repayment, usually in installments, is specified in the contract.

The legality of this financing technique has been questioned because of its similarity to Riba. However, the modern Murabaha has become the most popular financing technique among Islamic banks, used widely for consumer finance, real estate and the purchase of machinery and for financing short-term trade.

Musaqah = agricultural contract

A contract in which the owner of agricultural land shares its produce with another person in return for his services in irrigating the garden.

Musharakah = joint venture, profit and loss sharing

Alternative spelling = Musharaka
An investment partnership in which all partners are entitled to a share in the profits of a project in a mutually agreed ratio. Losses are shared in proportion to the amount invested. All partners to a Musharakah contribute funds and have the right to exercise executive powers in that project, similar to a conventional partnership structure and the holding of voting stock in a limited company.

This equity financing arrangement is widely regarded as the purest form of Islamic financing.
The two main forms of Musharakah are:

  • Permanent Musharakah: an Islamic bank participates in the equity of a project and receives a share of the profit on a pro rata basis. The length of contract is unspecified, making it suitable for financing projects where funds are committed over a long period.
  • Diminishing Musharakah: this allows equity participation and sharing of profits on a pro rata basis, and provides a method through which the bank keeps on reducing its equity in the project, ultimately transferring ownership of the asset to the participants. The contract provides for payment over and above the bank's share in the profit for the equity held by the bank. Simultaneously the entrepreneur purchases some of the bank's equity, progressively reducing it until the bank has no equity and thus ceases to be a partner.

Muzara'a = agricultural contract

A contract in which one person works the land of another person in return for a share in the produce of the land.

Nisab = exemption limit

Exemption limit for the payment of Zakat, which differs for different types of wealth.

Qard = loan

Qard Hasan = benevolent loan

Alternative spelling = Qard Hassan
A loan contract between two parties for social welfare or for short-term bridging finance. Repayment is for the same amount as the amount borrowed. The borrower can pay more than the amount borrowed so long as it is not stated by contract.

Most Islamic banks provide interest-free loans to customers who are in need. The Islamic view of loans (Qard) is that there is a moral duty to give them to borrowers free of charge, as a person seeks a loan only if he is in need of it. Some Islamic banks give interest-free loans only to the holders of investment accounts with them; some extend them to all bank clients; some restrict them to needy students and other economically weaker sections of society; and some provide interest-free loans to small producers, farmers and entrepreneurs who cannot get finance from other sources.

Qimer = gambling

An agreement in which possession of a property is dependant upon the occurrence of an uncertain event. By implication it applies to those agreements in which there is a definite loss for one party and a gain for the other, without specifying which party will gain and which party will lose.

Quran = the holy scriptures of Islam

Rab al maal = the investor in a Mudarabah contract
Alternative spellings = Rab al mal

Rahn = collateral

An arrangement whereby a valuable asset is placed as collateral for a debt. The collateral may be disposed of in the event of a default.

Riba = interest

An increase, addition, unjust return, or advantage obtained by the lender as a condition of a loan. Any risk-free or "guaranteed" rate of return on a loan or investment is Riba. Riba in all its forms is prohibited in Islam.
In conventional terms, Riba and "interest" are used interchangeably, although the legal notion extends beyond mere interest.

Riba al Buyu = usury of trade

Also known as Riba al Fadl.
A sale transaction in which a commodity is exchanged for an unequal amount of the same commodity and delivery is delayed.
To avoid Riba al Buyu, the exchange of commodities from both sides must be equal and instant. Riba al Buyu was prohibited by the prophet Mohammad to forestall riba (interest) from creeping into the economy.

Riba al Diyun = usury of debt

Also known as usury of delay (Riba Al Nasia).
The usury of debt was an established practice amongst Arabs during the pre-Islamic period. It can occur as an excess increment on top of the principal, which is incorporated as an obligatory condition of the giving of a loan.
Alternatively, an excess amount is imposed on top of the principal if the borrower fails to repay on the due date. More time is permitted for repayment in return for an additional amount. If the borrower fails to pay again, a further excess amount is imposed, etc.

Ruq'a = payment order

Alternative spellings = Sadaqat
A payment order to draw money from the bank; used in the early Muslim period.
Sadaqah = voluntary charitable giving

Salam = advance purchase

Alternative spellings = Al Salam, Bai al Salam, Bai Salam
Advance payment for goods which are to be delivered at a specified future date. Under normal circumstances, a sale cannot be effected unless the goods are in existence at the time of the bargain. However, this type of sale is an exception, provided the goods are defined and the date of delivery is fixed. The objects of sale must be tangible goods that can be defined as to quantity, quality and workmanship.

This mode of financing is often applied in the agricultural sector, where the bank advances money for various inputs to receive a share in the crop, which it then sells.

Samad = Shari'a compliant property mortgage in the USA

Shafi'e = Islamic school of law

Islamic school of law founded by Abu Abdullah Ahmad bin Idris or Imam Shafi'e. Followers of this school are known as Shafi'es.

Shari'a = Islamic jurisprudence

Alternative spellings = Sharia, Shari'a, Shari'ah, Syariah, Syaria, Syari'ah, Syari'a
Islamic cannon law derived from three sources: the Quran, the Hadith and the Sunnah
A "Shari'a compliant" product meets the requirements of Islamic law.
A "Shari'a board" is the committee of Islamic scholars available to an Islamic financial institution for guidance and supervision in the development of Shari'a compliant products.
A "Shari'a advisor is an independent Islamic trained scholar that advises Islamic institutions on the compliance of the products and services with the Islamic law

Shirkah = partnership

A contract between two or more persons who launch a business or financial enterprise to make a profit.

Suftajah = bill of exchange

Alternative spellings = Suftaja, Suftajal
A bill of exchange between three parties (the payor, the payee and the transmitter), which was used for the delegation of credit during the Muslim period, especially the Abbasides period. It was used to collect taxes, disburse government dues, transfer funds by merchants and was commonly used by traveling merchants. Suftajahs could be payable on a future fixed date or immediately.

It differs from the modern bill of exchange in that a sum of money transferred by Suftajah had to keep its identity and payment had to be made in the same currency. Also it usually involved three persons (A pays a certain sum of money to B for agreeing to give an order to C to pay back to A). Finally, a Suftajah could be endorsed. The Arabs had been using endorsements (Hawala) since the days of the Prophet Muhammad.

Sukuk = Islamic bond

An asset-backed bond which is structured in accordance with Shari'a and may be traded in the market.
A Sukuk represents proportionate beneficial ownership in the underlying asset, which will be leased to the client to yield the return on the Sukuk.

Sunnah = practice and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad

Tabarru' = Takaful donation

A contract where a participant agrees to donate a pre-determined percentage of his contribution (to a Takaful fund) to provide assistance to fellow participants. In this way he fills his obligation of joint guarantee and mutual help should another participant suffer a loss. This concept eliminates the element of Gharar from the Takaful contract.

Takaful = Islamic insurance

Based on the principle of mutual assistance, Takaful provides mutual protection of assets and property and offers joint risk-sharing in the event of a loss by one of the participants. Takaful is similar to mutual insurance in that members are the insurers as well as the insured.

Conventional insurance is prohibited in Islam because its dealings contain several haram elements, such as Gharar and Riba.

Tawarruq = reverse Murabaha

In personal financing, a client with a genuine need buys an item on credit from the bank on a deferred payment basis and then immediately resells it for cash to a third party. In this way, the client can obtain cash without taking out an interest-based loan.

Ujrah = fee

The financial charge for using services, or Manfaat (wages, allowance, commission, etc).

Wadiah = safekeeping

Alternative spellings = Wadia, Al Wadia, Al Wadiah
The safekeeping of goods with a discount on the original stated cost. An Islamic bank acts as the keeper and trustee of depositors' funds. It guarantees to return the entire deposit, or any part of it, on the depositor's demand.
The bank may give to the depositor a Hibah in appreciation.

Wakalah = agency

Alternative spellings = Wakala, Al Wakala, Al Wakalah
Absolute power of attorney: where a representative is appointed to undertake transactions on another person's behalf.
In terms of Takaful operations, Wakalah refers to an agency contract, which may involve a fee for the agent.

Waqf = charitable trust

Plural = Awkaf, Awqaf

An endowment or a charitable trust set up for Islamic purposes (usually for education, mosques, or for the poor). It involves tying up a property in perpetuity so that it cannot be sold, inherited, or donated to anyone.

Zakat = religious tax

Alternative spellings = Zakah
An obligatory contribution which every wealthy Muslim is required to pay to the Islamic state, or to distribute amongst the poor.
According to Islam, Zakat the third pillar of Islam purifies wealth and souls. Zakat is levied on cash, cattle, agricultural produce, minerals, capital invested in industry and business.

There are two types of zakat:

  • Zakat al Fitr, which is payable by every Muslim able to pay at the end of Ramadan. This is also called Zakat al Nafs (poll tax).
  • Zakat al Maal is an annual levy on the wealth of a Muslim above a certain level. The rate paid differs according to the type of property owned.
   
           


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Glossary