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Shaykh Atabek Shukurov, from Let the Quran Speak, addresses this question in the video below:
Aisha Khaja: Why is there a general perception among the Muslim community that mortgages are impermissible in Islam?
Shaykh Atabek Shukurov: You know it’s a very important question.
There are a few reasons which are making us, as laymen, assume that [a] mortgage is supposed to be prohibited. Because regardless of what transaction is going to happen, this institution called “[a] bank”, it causes some type of sensitivity with the Muslims, anyway, okay.
Because, for example, in Arabic terms, they use this word […] riba, which means “interest”, or usury. So, this term, “bank”, in itself is a bit problematic for Muslims, unfortunately. Okay? So that’s one thing.
And the second thing is: a layman does not look into the transaction from the… jurisprudential point of view, but they look into it as a layman.
And what’s happening in the mortgage? I just go to this institute called “bank”, I borrow money–ten thousand pounds–but then I have to pay it back over time, with some extra.
It looks like usury, it looks like interest, it looks like riba, [which] means it has to be prohibited… So, that’s the main problem.
And from the other side, you know, we have this problem with us researchers.
When we go into some issue, into some topic, to apply our fiqhi principles, normally we have some certain type of pre-assumptions, which is incorrect, which is not permissible for the researcher to have. He has to go empty-headed.
Aisha Khaja: Interesting. So, I know in your research you’ve come across an opinion, I think, that is new and I don’t think many scholars… I think there’s a different perspective that you bring to the table, which is an important one.
You argue that a mortgage is permissible and it’s different than all of these issues that we’re talking about. So walk me through how you came up with that.
Shaykh Atabek Shukurov: I’ll go to the bank and the bank asks me, “What is the house that you want to buy?” I give the address, the bank goes and investigates, okay? And after that brief, the bank transfers money into my account, but not as a debt. That is the main problem.
So if I would take the money as that, then it would be usury, but the bank does not give it to me.
Aisha Khaja: Can I ask you a question right here? If the bank is giving me this money and I owe the bank this money, isn’t that technically a debt?
Shaykh Atabek Shukurov: Only if I possess that money.
Aisha Khaja: Explain a little bit. What do you mean by that?
Shaykh Atabek Shukurov: If I come to you, I will ask you to give me money. You will say, “Okay, take this money and go and buy a chicken for me.”
Aisha Khaja: For yourself?
Shaykh Atabek Shukurov: For you.
Aisha Khaja: For me. Okay.
Shaykh Atabek Shukurov: Okay, so is this money for me or not?
Aisha Khaja: No, because I’m just giving the money to buy me a chicken.
Shaykh Atabek Shukurov: And also, you are giving instruction: what to do with this… But that is when I possess it 100%. You do not dictate what to do with this, but I do with it whatever I want. That is the Islamic debt.
Wherever there is no Islamic debt, it’s silly to talk about usury, it’s silly to talk about riba. […]
So technically, I am asking the bank to buy this house for me. I am saying, “You buy this house for 10,000. I will buy it from you for 20,000.” That’s what technically, Islamically, [is] happening. […]
Wherever there is no possession of the money, there is no debt… and wherever there is no debt… there cannot be usury.
Continue watching the video to learn more…
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