Bismillah wa sollātu was-Salāmu ‘Alā Rasūlillah.
I have recently been shared with a piece of writing transcribed from a viral audio clips by a brother from Ilorin who erroneously claims that some financial transactions of the Nigeria first non-interest bank (Jāiz) are not shariah complaint. The brother in the transcribed audio claimed Jaiz bank consumes riba and that many of its products especially Murabaha-related products are shariah non-compliant.
This is my summarized responses to the brother’s spacious claims:
Islam enjoins us as Muslims to be mindful of our speeches especially those with direct effects on the matters of hālal and harām. We don’t make halāl what is harām neither must we rule harām what Allah has made halāl, this is as heinous as shirk in Islam. Allah says: «And do not say about what your tongues assert of untruth, “This is lawful and this is unlawful,” to invent falsehood about Allah. Indeed, those who invent falsehood about Allah will not succeed» (Q:16:116). As Muslims, we don’t make rulings on matters we have little or no information about of which the resultant effect is spreading of ignorance and misinformation among the Muslims.
The Islamic financial system is birthed on the believe that Ribā, speculation, uncertainty and other economic -related ethical vices are prohibited by Islam, and on the need to create shariah complaint substitutes that will certify both the religious and socio-economic needs of the Muslims. Consequent to this the presumption is that every Islamic financial instrument and products in Islamic financial banks and related institutions are certified, vetted and endorsed not only by the shariah supervisory board of the institution both also are in harmony with the international shariah standards on Islamic finance which are, in the real sense, the summary of the Islamic financial laws and regulations of transactions as contained in Islamic jurisprudential heritage. For someone to have sat lazily on his sofa and couch making unnecessary and unfounded declarations on the likes of these efforts, it shows he is -at least- ignorant of the concept, ill-informed about the operational principles of the system, oblivious to the standard Islamic juristic rulings regulating financial transactions or, for his own reason, holds a mischievous mind towards the development of Muslims’ schemes.
Thirdly: it should be noted that every Islamic financial product(s) sold by Jaiz bank and any other Islamic banks operational in Nigeria must have been duly vetted and endorsed by the CBN’s Financial Regulation Advisory Council of Experts (FRACE) consisting majorly of shariah scholars and well-read certified personalities in shariah financial transaction matters, who will study every single transaction and product to be designed for CBN on the basis of shariah laid down standards and regulatory norms applicable globally. On its part, for every bank to comply with the CBN’s laid down regulations, the bank’s Advisory Council of experts (ACE), which must also constitute majorly shariah scholars and well-read certified personalities in shariah financial transaction matters, will supervise the banks’ operational dealings only to curtail the shariah non-compliant risks of the bank. Also, in order to secure the bank’s shariah compliant promise, every branch must also have within its internal Audit unit a board of Shariah Auditors who must also constitute majorly shariah scholars and well-read certified personalities in shariah financial transaction matters only to make sure every single transaction is concluded on the best shariah compliant practices as required by Muslim scholars from different madhabs! Now I ask: How can just one person with no traceable academic struggles, operational expertise and sound independent jurisprudential skills prefer his myopic views on some issues on the opinions of hundreds of global Islamic scholars with verifiable decade-long industrial certifications and operational experiences in matters relating to Islamic finance?
Islamic financial institutions are riba-unfriendly sectors based on the axiomatic believe of illegality of consuming Riba. While there are many issues of ribā agreed upon by Muslim scholars without any single narration of controversy, there are tens of other issues with an age-long scholarly disagreement on its inclusive or otherwise in the generality meaning of riba. These latter section of the ribawī transactions are opened for juristic take-and leave of which no one has the intellectual authority to blanketly judge his view as the only-correct opinion, so if a scholar opines there is a riba structure in a particular product while the other disagrees, there is no religious provision that states either of the opinion is sacred and must be forced on the other scholar. The legal maxim required in this sense is that ” an opinion cannot be set aside by another opinion”. Islamic jurists during the nascent development of modern Islamic banking in the late 70’s have debated the legality of the modern Murabaha instrument in the banking institutions. While others opine it is not allowed, the majority of modern scholars with special interest and readings opine it is legal without shariah reservation.
This confirms to the fact that the brother’s struggle to convince some of his audience by reading from some of the Saudi scholars on the impermissibility of some Murabaha arrangements does not hold any weight, because the least message from the verdicts is that some scholars disagree with the instrument based on their reading and our response is that jaiz scholars have the wherewithal intellectual capacity to adjudge on the matter, and they are not subscribing to the opinions of the holders of the verdicts read by the brother.
Fifthly: I want to advise the Muslim ummah especially those reading this short response, that in as much as we are convinced that we must be well enlightened on matters related to our religion, we must also be mindful of listening to anyone, reading from anyone or even sharing any information about Islam except from those who have the very required competence in the related fields of his discussion. It is not everybody that holds a general talk in our local masjids that you consult for religious matters especially those ones with special disciplinary requirements and expertise hence the blame of religious misrepresentation will be melted not only on the original author of the information but also on the unscrupulous sharer and disseminator.
In my last wordings, the brother with the circulated and later transcribed audio indicting jaiz bank for usury consumption is wrong in his accusation with naïve intellectual and operational expertise in the matters he was adjudging and he shouldn’t be taken so seriously. I am however charging jaiz bank to be watchful of its set goals of non-interest banking activities in Nigeria, to pick advices where necessary from public opinions on their products and to improve their customers services and Public Awareness programs for the increased public trust and education of its Islamic banking services.
Subhānaka Allahumma wa bihamdik Ashadu An lāilāh illa Anta Astagfiruka wā atūbu Ilayk
Sunday 19\Safar\ 1443: 26\ September, 2021