Credit cards-An overview


Assalam oalaikum,

Credit cards, which are a kind of plastic money, hardly need an introduction. The Encyclopedia Britannica states that the credit cards are being used since the 1920’s in the US. However, there have been references to credit cards as early as 1890, in Europe.
Credit is a way of selling goods or services in a situation in which the buyer does not has money in hand. A credit card is a payment card which is issued to the users as a method of payment. The cardholders can thus pay for their purchases based on the holder’s assurance to pay for them.
The earlier credit cards were not made of plastic.
Credit tokens used to be made from metal, celluloid, metal coins and fiber.
The credit cards used these days are made from thin plastic and they carry identification information such as the card holder’s signature or photograph.
Credit cards usage has reached the 181 million mark in the US, despite the economy being at low ebb.

This brief description of credit cards shows that they have originated in the west. These credit cards are based on the concept of enjoying opportunities of spending money which the card holder does not have.
Despite their popularity, easy availability and profitability, it is the duty of every Muslim to stop and ponder on the fact whether the credit cards are in compliance with the Shariah injunctions or not.

Keep Me In Your Prayers.
Amel Soname
Amel_soname@yahoo.com

DOES ISLAM PERMIT CREDIT CARDS?


Assalam oalaikum,

As is evident by a brief history of credit cards discussed in my first post, the credit card usage has begun (in some form or the other) in the 19th century. So it is a relatively modern concept.
In Islam, the main sources of law are the Quran and Sunnah which provide us with suggestions from which the Shari’ah rules/ahkam are derived. However, finding a direct reference about such a newly developed concept in the Holy Quran or ahadith is out of question.

The Islamic Shari’ah includes all the rulings made during the lifetime of Prophet Mohammad (saw) which are found in the Holy Quran and in the Sunnah.
Prophet Mohammad (saw) has been a prime source of knowledge for us as far as the Holy Quran, ahadith, tafseer (Quranic interpretation), rhetoric and fiqh (principles of Islamic jurisprudence) is concerned. After Prophet Mohammad (saw) passed away, these branches of knowledge were carried forth and propagated by various Islamic scholars. Prophet Mohammad (saw) had single-handedly assumed these roles but the Islamic scholars had to divide the knowledge imparted by Prophet Mohammad (saw) into different branches. For instance, Imam Abu Hanifah protected the science of Islamic fiqh. After him many other Islamic scholars have followed his footsteps. These scholars have painstakingly studied the relevant Quranic verses and ahadith and then formed principles of Islamic jurisprudence, based on them.
Such Islamic scholars who can interpret Islamic laws, i.e. both the Shariah laws and Fiqh are called muftis.
Mufti Shaykh Muhammad Saalih-Al-Munajjid has out rightly rejected and condemned the use of credit cards on the grounds of riba, which is considered haram as per the Shari’ah Laws. The credit card contract has a conditional riba/interest clause in it. So if a card holder is unable to pay within a specific time then he may have to pay interest.
If a person thinks that he can evade riba by paying the dues on time, then this is a misguided notion because nobody can be so sure about one’s future. The situation might probably change and one’s plans may go awry. After all ‘Man proposes, God disposes’.
(And Allah knows best)

Keep Me In Your Prayers.
Amel Soname
Amel_soname@yahoo.com

WHAT IS RIBA?


Assalam oalaikum,


In the previous post I have explained that the main factor which makes credit cards un-Islamic and not fit to be used by the Muslims is riba. The Islamic scholars have unanimously agreed that riba has been prohibited by the Holy Quran as well as the hadith.
Here let us discuss the actual meaning of Riba and what the Quran says about it.
In Arabic the term Al-Riba means increase or addition. Interest in Islam refers to an unearned and effortless profit.
Abu Huraira reported that Prophet Mohammad (saw) said that, ‘A time will certainly come over the people when none will remain who will not devour usury. If he does not devour it, its vapor will overtake him’.(Ahmed, Abu Dawood, Nisai, Ibn Majah).This warning of the Prophet (saw) serves as a reminder to the Muslims that they should be cautious in their monetary dealings and they should not compromise their Islamic principles at any cost.
Iman Razi was posed a question that what was wrong with taking interest when it is certain that the borrower will use the funds which he has borrowed in his business and earn profit. He replied that whereas earning profit is uncertain, payment of interest in fixed and certain. The profit may or may not be realized by the borrower. Therefore, undoubtedly the payment of something certain in return of something in uncertain causes harm.(Al-Razi, n.d, page:87)

The Holy Quran is the Book of Wisdom and whatever has been prohibited has been done for the betterment of mankind. Inshallah, in the next post I shall discuss about the harm caused by riba in the society.

Keep Me In Your Prayers.
Amel Soname
Amel_soname@yahoo.com

WHY DOES ISLAM PROHIBIT RIBA?


As salam u allaiqum


Islam condemns riba because the adverse effects of riba/interest are manifold and it is totally against the Islamic principles. Islam is a religion of peace, justice, social welfare and high moral principles. Hence, it prohibits those practices which are detrimental to human beings and to the society, by and large. Although interest is playing a large role in the modern economic systems, yet Islam prohibits interest as it is not in the interest of humanity!

Islam is a way of life and it covers all aspects of life, be it social, economic, political or spiritual. Islam was the first religion which had established social and economic justice during the era of al-Khilafah-al-Rashidah.
Islam strictly prohibits exploitation and unjustified enrichment. Socio-economic justice can be achieved through equal distribution of wealth in the society. In order to fulfill its goal of achieving socio-economic welfare and justice to all, Islam has prohibited riba. The practice of charging riba/interest from a needy person, who borrows money to make both ends meet, is considered to be exploitative according to Islam. However, the mindset of the western world is different.
As far as the western economies are concerned the picture is quite different as interest forms an inseparable part. Interestingly, the practice of lending money for interest has been detested by all the monotheistic religions of the world. According to Roy Harrod, a prominent western economist, elimination of interest is the only way by which the breakdown of capitalism can be prevented.
In my next post I shall discuss about the Quranic verses which prohibit riba. Inshallah the discussion will prove fruitful and it will establish the fact that there are some solid reasons why riba (and all the practices associated with it- such as insurance, credit cards etc) are un-Islamic.
Keep Me In Your Prayers.
Amel Soname
Amel_soname@yahoo.com

THE HOLY QURAN CONDEMNS RIBA/INTEREST


Assalam oalaikum,

Since everyone is entitled to have their own opinion so there was some difference of opinion on the topic whether riba meant interest or not. Some Muslims had argued that Islam prohibits riba but riba does not mean interest. According to such people the bank interest was also not riba. However, truth has finally prevailed. Several international conferences of jurists were held to discuss the topic of riba. Fortunately, a consensus amongst the jurists was established. The ulema have finally issued the verdict that riba is interest, which leaves no room for doubt for any Muslim.
The Holy Quran speaks against riba in the strongest possible manner in several verses. However, since interest has become an integral part of the existing financial institutions, some Muslim countries have tried to misinterpret riba for their own convenience. Instead of paying careful attention to what Islam has to say about riba they have got swayed by this western concept. Their analysis of riba is totally against the Quranic teachings and the hadith of the Prophet (saw).
Here are a few verses which clearly condemn riba or interest:
‘O you who have believed, do not consume usury, doubled and multiplied, but fear Allah that you may be successful. (TMQ- 3:130)
And (for) their taking of usury while they had been forbidden from it nd their consumption of people’s wealth unjustly and We have prepared for the disbelievers amongst them painful punishment. (TMQ-4:161)

Therefore, being the followers of Islam, each one of us ought to have a strong Imaan so that we can outrightly reject what the Holy Quran rejects.


Keep Me In Your Prayers.
Amel Soname
Amel_soname@yahoo.com

RIBA IS CONDEMNED IN THE AHADITH


Assalam oalaikum,

We have gone through some of the Quranic verses which condemn riba in a clear-cut way. In this post I shall discuss about the ahadith which also reject riba in strong words.

Narrated Abu Huraira that Prophet Mohammad (saw) ‘Riba has 70 segments and the least serious is equivalent to a man committing incest with his own mother.

In another narration by Abu Huraira Prophet Mohammad (saw) said ‘Allah will not allow four persons to enter Paradise or to taste its blessings: he who consumes alcohol, he who takes riba, he who seizes an orphan’s property without right and he who is not dutiful towards his parents.

Reported Jabir, ‘The Prophet (saw) has cursed the taker and the payer of riba, the one who records it (the contract) and the two witnesses to such a transaction and he further said that ‘they are all alike (in guilt)’

So those who belong to the Ummah of the Prophet (saw) should not to be misguided by the un-Islamic practices such as credit cards simply because these evils are rampant in the modern society.
Every true Muslim should practice taqwah which is compared to walking in the midst of a narrow, thorny path where the person who is passing through has to protect his clothes from getting torn. The thorns are the sins and his clothes are his Imaan.

Keep Me In Your Prayers.
Amel Soname
Amel_soname@yahoo.com

A TRUE MUSLIM NEVER COMPROMISES WITH HIS FAITH


Assalam oalaikum,


In the modern times the world has shrunk due to technological advancements in internet and telecommunication. Globalization has enhanced investment opportunities, expanded international trade and has been instrumental in blurring national boundaries. It has accelerated the traveling phenomenon and there has been an unprecedented rise in the number of globetrotters. It has expanded inter-mingling of languages, cultures and traditions. Umpteen countries in the world have become a melting pot of cultures due to the impact of globalization.

In this kind of scenario it seems to be quite difficult for a Muslim to protect his identity and his faith. Going against the tide has never been cakewalk.  Nevertheless, it is not impossible too. It is in such situations that the Islamic principle of taqwah comes into play. It is a challenge that every Muslim should take up in life that he or she will never compromise on the Islamic principles, which are the building blocks of Islam.
Islam does not allow rahbaniyat or renouncing the world. On the contrary Islam encourages seeking knowledge, marrying and being aware. A true follower of Islam is supposed to live in the world but he should not let the world live in his heart.
We have often heard about the quote of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus’ that ‘The only thing that is constant is change’. However, in the wake of changing scenarios, skylines, economies, climates and leadership we should realize that there are certain things that are constant in this world and will always remain so. For example, the Holy Quran is unalterable and so is the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw).
So we should remember that though everything else is susceptible to change in this world but the principles of Islam will remain unchanged till the very end and so should our loyalty towards Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw) be…steadfast and unaffected by the changing times.

Keep Me In Your Prayers.
Amel Soname
Amel_soname@yahoo.com

IS IT ESSENTIAL TO BLINDLY APE THE WEST?


Assalam oalaikum,


As we have seen in the case of insurance contracts some people tend to prove that credit card usage is also a necessity. Ironically, Muslims can avoid other haram things such as swine, alcohol, gambling easily but when it comes to credit cards usage (which entail riba and is haram as well) they pretend as though it is indispensable. This shows the double standards of such people.
The capitalist system, which has given rise to the concept of interest, is a continuation of social Darwinism, a theory which propagates the survival of the fittest capitalist. The criticism of the theory of Darwinism is beyond the scope of this post. It would be enough to hint that Darwinism is the disgusting ideology which has brought about the Holocaust (World War 11) in which 6 million people were killed and the Rwanda genocide in which 800,000 people were killed, within a span of 100 days and many more throughout the world.
The ‘survival of the fittest theory’ of Charles Darwin has caused insufferable loss to humanity, directly or indirectly. It has lead to racism and supremacism, which is a belief that a certain race, species, ethnic group, class or culture is superior to others. This has lead to ethnic clashes, heartrending massacre and eugenics, which is a belief that the quality of human race can be improved by forcibly sterilizing people with defects, in order  to stop them from reproducing.
These concepts and practices are against the tenets of Islam.
So we should realize that the western world indulges in many follies which I have discussed above. Hence, there is no need for a true believer in Islam to surrender before their whims and fancies in this transitory world (for some materialistic gains) and spoil one’s Aakhrah.

Keep Me In Your Prayers.
Amel Soname
Amel_soname@yahoo.com

IS CREDIT CARD INDISPENSABLE AS IT IS MADE OUT TO BE?


As salamu allaiqum

If we look at the world around we find that there are many people who get enticed by short-term gains in this life. Whether it is the unearned money gained through some insurance contract or the freedom to spend recklessly through a credit card, they prefer to pretend about the un-Islamic factors which are involved.
Here I shall show two examples to make my point clear. I am presenting two questions which have been posed to Muftis by Muslims about their predicaments.
Example # 1: A man said that though he lives in a western country- he has no problem, as such, in practicing Islam. However, he had read about a hadith that Prophet Mohammad (saw) has forbidden Muslims from settling amongst the kaafir. He had realized that practicing Islam in the western country would be easier than in his own homeland. So he wished to ask the Mufti whether he should return to his homeland or continue staying in the west.

Example # 2: A man said that he lives in the west and in his neighborhood having a credit card is a must for car rentals. So he wished to know that since not having a credit card would create a lot of troubles for him so would it be fine if he uses one.

Both these example prove that practicing Islam is possible even in the western countries if a person has a strong will. After all ‘where there is a will, there is a way’.
As far as the problem posed in example # 2 is concerned, there are a plethora of options by which cars can be rented without a credit card, for example: by showing a travel itinerary, a utility bill, through debit cards etc. The process may require more time and patience but all the hardship faced by a Muslim in the way of Islam, in this life, will be quite fruitful in the life hereafter, Inshallah.


Keep Me In Your Prayers.
Amel Soname
Amel_soname@yahoo.com

THE FLIPSIDE OF CREDIT CARD USAGE


Assalam oalaikum,


Since their invention in the mid-20th century the credit cards have revolutionized the payment process. They are said to have a fair amount of benefits such as:
They are more easier to carry than cash
They enable safe online shopping
They help one to build a good credit history

There are some more plus points which any credit card user can vouch for. However, the picture is not as rosy as it seems to be. Credit cards usage has its own share of shortcomings and disadvantages. I have listed some of them here:
Getting trapped in a debt spiral
Credit scores may drop
They have complicated terms and conditions
In order to be on the safe side one needs to use credit cards prudently. If the user is experienced in budgeting and managing finances, it is fine. Otherwise what happens in most cases is that people tend to overspend. This is hardly surprising because we are living in a consumerist society where our choice is influenced by advertising rather than our needs. The commonly used terms and phrases these days, which hint at compulsive shopping are shopping spree, shopaholics, shop till you drop, binge shopping, retail therapy just to name a few. Instead of believing in the principle of ‘living within one’s means.’ people have actually started ‘living beyond their means’. People have started giving in to the urge to splurge instead of resisting it. Little do they realize that their uncontrollable urge to spend unnecessarily can be the consequence of stress, unhappiness, boredom or anxiety, according to a shopping addiction expert.
So with the increased purchasing power that they provide, the credit cards are actually akin to a double-edged sword which can leave the people high and dry.


Keep Me In Your Prayers.
Amel Soname
Amel_soname@yahoo.com