Islamic Finance


If the leased asset is used differently by different users, the lessee cannot sub-lease the leased asset except with the express permission of the lessor. If the lessor permits the lessee for subleasing, he may sub-lease it. If the rent claimed from the sub-lessee is equal to or less than the rent payable to the owner / original lessor, all the recognized schools of Islamic jurisprudence are unanimous on the permissibility of the sub lease. However, the opinions are different in case the rent charged from the sub-lessee is higher than the rent payable to the owner. Imam al-Shafi‘i and some other scholars allow it and hold that the sub lessor may enjoy the surplus received from the sub-lessee. This is the preferred view in the Hanbali school as well. On the other hand. Imam Abu Hanifah is of the view that the surplus received from the sub-lessee in this case is not permissible for the sub-lessor to keep and he will have to give that surplus in charity. However, if the sub-lessor has developed the leased property by adding something to it or has rented it in a currency different from the currency in which he himself pays rent to the owner/the original lessor, he can claim a higher rent from his sub-lessee and can enjoy the surplus.

Although the view of Imam Abu Hanifah is more precautions which should be acted upon to the best possible extent, in cases of need the view of Shafi‘i and Hanbali schools may be followed because there is no express prohibition in the Holy Qur’an or in the Sunnah against the surplus claimed from the lessee. Ibn Qudamah has argued for the permissibility of surplus on forceful grounds.

Assigning of the Lease

The lessor can sell the leased property to a third party whereby the relation of lessor and lessee shall be established between the new owner and the lessee. However, the assigning of the lease itself (without assigning the ownership in the leased asset) for a monetary consideration is not permissible.

The difference between the two situations is that in the latter case the ownership of the asset is not transferred to the assignee, but he becomes entitled to receive the rent of the asset only. This kind of assignment is allowed in Shari‘ah only where no monetary consideration is charged from the assignee for this assignment. for example, a lessor can assign his right to claim rent from the lessee to his son, or to his friend in the form of a gift. Similarly, he can assign this right to any one of his creditors to set off his debt out of the rentals received by him. But if the lessor wants to sell this right for a fixed price, it is not permissible, because in this case the money (the amount of rentals) is sold for money which is a transaction subject to the principle of equality. Otherwise it will be tantamount to a riba transaction, hence prohibited.

Securitization of Ijarah

The arrangement of Ijarah has a good potential of securitization which may help create a secondary market for the financiers on the basis of Ijarah. Since the lessor in Ijarah owns the leased assets, he can sell the asset, in whole or in part, to a third party who may purchase it and may replace the seller in the rights and obligations of the lessor with regard to the purchased part of the asset.

Therefore, if the lessor, after entering into Ijarah, wishes to recover his cost of purchase of the asset with a profit thereon, he can sell the leased asset wholly or partly either to one party or to a number of individuals. In the latter case, the purchase of a proportion of the asset by each individual may be evidenced by a certificate which may be called 'Ijarah certificate'. This certificate will represent the holder's proportionate ownership in the leased asset and he will assume the rights and obligations of the owner/lessor to that extent. Since the asset is already leased to the lessee, lease will continue with the new owners, each one of the holders of this certificate will have the right to enjoy a part of the rent according to his proportion of ownership in the asset. Similarly he will also assume the obligations of the lessor to the extent of his ownership. Therefore, in the case of total destruction of the asset, he will suffer the loss to the extent of his ownership. These certificates, being an evidence of proportionate ownership in a tangible asset, can be negotiated and traded in freely in the market and can serve as an instrument easily convertible into cash. Thus they may help in solving the problems of liquidity management faced by the Islamic banks and financial institutions.

It should be remembered, however, that the certificate must represent ownership of an undivided part of the asset with all its rights and obligations. Misunderstanding this basic concept, some quarters tried to issue Ijarah certificates representing the holder's right to claim certain amount of the rental only without assigning to him any kind of ownership in the asset. It means that the holder of such a certificate has no relation with the leased asset at all. His only right is to share the rentals received from the lessee. This type of securitization is not allowed in Shari‘ah. As explained earlier in this chapter, the rent after being due is a debt payable by the lessee. The debt or any security representing debt only is not a negotiable instrument in Shari‘ah, because trading in such an instrument amounts to trade in money or in monetary obligation which is not allowed, except on the basis of equality, and if the equality of value is observed while trading in such instruments, the very purpose of securitization is defeated. Therefore, this type of Ijarah certificates cannot serve the purpose of creating a secondary market. It is, therefore, necessary that the Ijarah certificates are designed to represent real ownership of the leased assets, and not only a right to receive rent.


Another concept developed in the modern leasing business is that of 'head-leasing.' In this arrangement a lessee sub-leases the property to a number of sub-lessees. Then, he invites others to participate in his business by making them share the rentals received by his sub-lessees. For making them participate in receiving rentals, he charges a specified amount from them. This arrangement is not in accordance with the principles of Shari‘ah. The reason is obvious. The lessee does not own the property. He is entitled to benefit from its usufruct only. That usufruct he has passed on to his sub-lessees by contracting a sub-lease with them. Now he does not own anything, neither the corpus of the property, nor its usufruct. What he has is the right to receive rent only. Therefore, he assigns a part of this right to other persons. It is already explained in detail that this right cannot be traded in, because it amounts to selling a receivable debt at a discount which is one of the forms of riba prohibited by the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. Therefore, this concept is not acceptable.

These are some basic features of the 'financial lease' which are not in conformity with the dictates of Shari‘ah. While using the lease as an Islamic mode of finance, these shortcomings must be avoided.

The list of the possible shortcomings in the lease agreement is not restricted to what has been mentioned above, but only the basic errors found in different agreements have been pointed out, and the basic principles of Islamic leasing have been summarized. An Islamic lease agreement must conform to all of them.

Salam & Istisna

1) Introduction

2) Meaning of Salam

3) Conditions of Salam

4) Salam as a mode of Financing

5) Some Rules of Parallel Salam

6) Istisna

7) Difference between Istisna‘ and Salam

8) Difference between Istisna‘ and Ijarah

9) Time of Delivery

10) Istisna‘ as a mode of financing Islamic Finance


It is one of the basic conditions for the validity of a sale in Shariah that the commodity (intended to be sold) must be in the physical or constructive possession of the seller. This condition has three ingredients:

Firstly, the commodity must be existing; therefore, a commodity which does not exist at the time of sale cannot be sold.

Secondly, the seller should have acquired the ownership of that commodity. Therefore, if the commodity is existing, but the seller does not own it, he cannot sell it to anybody.

Thirdly, mere ownership is not enough. It should have come in to the possession of the seller, either physically or constructively. If the seller owns a commodity, but he has not taken its delivery himself or through an agent, he cannot sell it.

There are only two exceptions to this general principle in Shari‘ah. One is Salam and the other is Istisna‘. Both are sales of a special nature, and in the present chapter the concept of these two kinds of sale and the extent to which they can be used for the purpose of financing will be explained.

Meaning of Salam

Salam is a sale whereby the seller undertakes to supply some specific goods to the buyer at a future date in exchange of an advanced price fully paid at spot.

Here the price is cash, but the supply of the purchased goods is deferred. The buyer is called "rabb-us-salam", the seller is "muslam ilaih", the cash price is "ra’s-ul-mal" and the purchased commodity is termed as "muslam fih", but for the purpose of simplicity, I shall use the English synonyms of these terms.

Salam was allowed by the Holy Prophet ’subject to certain conditions. The basic purpose of this sale was to meet the needs of the small farmers who needed money to grow their crops and to feed their family upto the time of harvest. After the prohibition of riba they could not take usurious loans. Therefore, it was allowed for them to sell the agricultural products in advance.

Similarly, the traders of Arabia used to export goods to other places and to import some other goods to their homeland. They needed money to undertake this type of business. They could not borrow from the usurers after the prohibition of riba. It was, therefore, allowed for them that they sell the goods in advance. After receiving their cash price, they could easily undertake the aforesaid business.

Salam was beneficial to the seller, because he received the price in advance, and it was beneficial to the buyer also, because normally, the price in salam used to be lower than the price in spot sales. The permissibility of salam was an exception to the general rule that prohibits the forward sales, and therefore, it was subjected to some strict conditions. These conditions are summarized below:

Conditions of Salam

1. First of all, it is necessary for the validity of Salam that the buyer pays the price in full to the seller at the time of effecting the sale. It is necessary because in the absence of full payment by the buyer, it will be tantamount to sale of a debt against a debt, which is expressly prohibited by the Holy Prophet Moreover, the basic wisdom behind the permissibility of salam is to fulfill the instant needs of the seller. If the price is not paid to him in full, the basic purpose of the transaction will be defeated. Therefore, all the Muslim jurists are unanimous on the point that full payment of the price is necessary in Salam. However, Imam Malik is of the view that the seller may give a concession of two or three days to the buyers, but this concession should not form part of the agreement.

2. Salam can be effected in those commodities only the quality and quantity of which can be specified exactly. The things whose quality or quantity is not determined by specification cannot be sold through the contract of salam. For example, precious stones cannot be sold on the basis of salam, because every piece of precious stones is normally different from the other either in its quality or in its size or weight and their exact specification is not generally possible.

3. Salam cannot be effected on a particular commodity or on a product of a particular field or farm. For example, if the seller undertakes to supply the wheat of a particular field, or the fruit of a particular tree, the salam will not be valid, because there is a possibility that the crop of that particular field or the fruit of that tree is destroyed before delivery, and, given such possibility, the delivery remains uncertain. The same rule is applicable to every commodity the supply of which is not certain.

4. It is necessary that the quality of the commodity (intended to be purchased through salam) is fully specified leaving no ambiguity which may lead to a dispute. All the possible details in this respect must be expressly mentioned.

5. It is also necessary that the quantity of the commodity is agreed upon in unequivocal terms. If the commodity is quantified in weights according to the usage of its traders, its weight must be determined, and if it is quantified through measures, its exact measure should be known. What is normally weighed cannot be quantified in measures and vice versa.

6. The exact date and place of delivery must be specified in the contract.

7. Salam cannot be effected in respect of things which must be delivered at spot. For example, if gold is purchased in exchange of silver, it is necessary, according to Shari‘ah, that the delivery of both be simultaneous. Here, salam cannot work. Similarly, if wheat is bartered for barley, the simultaneous delivery of both is necessary for the validity of sale. Therefore the contract of salam in this case is not allowed. All the Muslim jurists are unanimous on the principle that salam will not be valid unless all these conditions are fully observed, because they are based on the express ahadith of the Holy Prophet The most famous hadith in this context is the one in which the Holy Prophet has said:

"Whoever wishes to enter into a contract of salam, he must effect the Salam according to the specified measure and the specified weight and the specified date of delivery".

However, there are certain other conditions which have been a point of difference between the different schools of the Islamic jurisprudence. Some of these conditions are discussed below:

(1) It is necessary, according to the Hanafi school, that the commodity (for which salam is effected) remains available in the market right from the day of contract upto the date of delivery. Therefore, if a commodity is not available in the market at the time of the contract, salam cannot be effected in respect of that commodity, even though it is expected that it will be available in the markets at the date of delivery.

However, the other three schools of Fiqh (i.e. Shafi‘i, Maliki, and Hanbali) are of the view that the availability of the commodity at the time of the contract is not a condition for the validity of salam. What is necessary, according to them, is that it should be available at the time of delivery. This view can be adopted in the present circumstances.

(2) It is necessary, according to the Hanafi and Hanbali schools that the time of delivery is, at least, one month from the date of agreement. If the time of delivery is fixed earlier than one month, salam is not valid. Their argument is that salam has been allowed for the needs of small farmers and traders and therefore, they should be given enough opportunity to acquire the commodity. They may not be able to supply the commodity before one month. Moreover, the price in salam is normally lower than the price in spot sales. This concession in the price may be justified only when the commodities are delivered after a period which has a reasonable bearing on the prices. A period of less than one month does not normally affect the prices. Therefore, the minimum time of delivery should not be less than one month. Imam Malik supports the view that there should be a minimum period for the contract of salam. However, he is of the opinion that it should not be less than fifteen days, because the rates of the market may change within a fortnight. This view is, however, opposed by some other jurists, like Imam Shafi‘i and some Hanafi jurists also. They say that the Holy Prophet has not specified a minimum period for the validity of salam. The only condition, according to the Hadith, is that the time of delivery must be clearly defined. Therefore, no minimum period can be prescribed. The parties may fix any date for delivery with mutual consent. This view seems to be preferable in the present circumstances, because the Holy Prophet has not prescribed a minimum period. The jurists have prescribed different periods which range between one day to one month. It is obvious that they have done so on the basis of expedience and keeping in view the interest of the poor sellers. But the expediency may differ from time to time and from place to place. Likewise, sometimes it is more in the interest of the seller to fix an earlier date. As far as the price is concerned, it is not a necessary ingredient of salam that the price is always lower than the market price on that day. The seller himself is the best judge of his interest, and if he accepts an earlier date of delivery with his free will and consent, there is no reason why he should be forbidden from doing so. Certain contemporary jurists have adopted this view being more suitable for the modern transactions.