Ijarah as a Mode of Financing

Like murabahah, Ijarah was not originally a mode of financing. It is simply a transaction meant to transfer the usufruct of a property from one person to another for an agreed period against an agreed consideration. However, certain financial institutions have adopted leasing as a mode of financing instead of long term lending on the basis of interest. This kind of lease is generally known as the ‘financial lease’ as distinguished from the ‘operating lease’ and many basic features of actual leasing transaction have been dispensed with therein.

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When interest-free financial institutions were established in the near past, they found that leasing is a recognized mode of finance throughout the world. On the other hand, they realized that leasing is a lawful transaction according to Shariah and it can be used as an interest-free mode of financing. Therefore, leasing has been adopted by the Islamic financial institutions, but very few of them paid attention to the fact that the ‘financial lease’ has a number of characteristics more similar to interest than to the actual lease transaction. That is why they started using the same model agreements of leasing as were in vogue among the conventional financial institutions without any modification, while a number of their provisions were not in conformity with Shariah.

As mentioned earlier, leasing is not a mode of financing in its origin. However, the transaction may be used for financing, subject to certain conditions. It is not sufficient for this purpose to substitute the name of ‘interest’ by the name of ‘rent’ and replace the name of ‘mortgage’ by the name of ‘leased asset’. There must be a substantial difference between leasing and an interest-bearing loan. That will be possible only by following all the Islamic rules of leasing, some of which have been mentioned in the first part of this chapter.

To be more specific, some basic differences between the contemporary financial leasing and the actual leasing allowed by the Shariah are indicated below.


Source: Republished with the kind permission of Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani.