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Time for Action

Background

Imagine if tomorrow there were to be a survey asking whether Halāl meat should be allowed in Britain.  Would you take part?  What would you say to those Muslims that sat on the side-lines and expected others to act for them?  Well, at the moment, an arguably more important question is being surveyed among the Muslim community, and it is time for us to speak out.

After years of discussing a potential Sharī’ah compliant student loan, the government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has recently issued a consultation on a potential model that has received preliminary approval by the Sharī’ah Board at IBB.  The fact that the government has acknowledged the need to provide a solution for Muslim (and other ethically-minded) students is something we should all welcome and support.

Details of the consultation can be found here [1].

Leaving aside the structure of the product for now—we will be providing more details on this in the coming weeks inshā’Allāh—for now we really need everyone to respond to this survey.  Do not think that just because you are not at university it doesn’t apply to you.  We have an opportunity to potentially have the facility for genuinely Sharī’ah compliant financing for educating generations to come.  Just for a few minutes of your time you can potentially share in this long-lasting reward.

However, whether they end up providing a Sharī’ah compliant student financing method is somewhat irrelevant here.  We are being tested as Muslims whether we are initially bothered about this, what does it say about us if we do not act now and speak up at least, just to let them know that we are not happy with ribā (usury, interest), and we support a change?  If we could not even do something as harmless as this, then it would be a great shame upon us.

Impact

Although many Muslims might find their way into university at the moment, we cannot ignore some uncomfortable facts.  It is a sad fact that many extremely talented and gifted Muslims are actually having to drop out of university because they cannot keep up with the payments, and do not wish to fall into ribā, out of commitment to their higher principles.  I know of brothers personally who are in this situation, who tell me that there are many more.  Those that are able to remain in university whilst avoiding ribā, are additionally plagued with the pressure of having jobs alongside their studies in order to pay their tuition fees.

If some of us are unable to spend a few minutes merely filling in an online survey, then it begs the question—what if tomorrow we were tested with something that required some real sacrifice and dedication?  Muslims all over the world are being tested in ways which we cannot imagine, may Allāh ease their suffering and make them steadfast; our task pales in comparison.  However, Allāh subhānahu wa ta’ālā does not reward or punish people based on what He has given someone else; each person is tested and repaid according to his or her own situation.

The Prophet sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wasallam said “One dirham beat one hundred thousand.” [2]  When the companions asked as to how, he sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wasallam responded: “A person who has two dirhams gave one in charity, whilst another person went to a part of his [vast] wealth a took out one hundred thousand and gave them charity.”  What this hadīth shows us is that Allāh will take into account your situation, and reward you (or punish you) accordingly.  It could be that Allāh is testing us Muslims in the UK with this trial because we are not ready yet of being tested in greater ways, so let us not fail this test.  Therefore, let no one belittle this action, or any action, since it could be through seemingly “small” actions like this that you can be forgiven your sins and entered into Paradise, due to the ikhlās (sincerity) behind it.

Action

We should fill the survey out as soon as possible, by clicking here [3].  We appreciate that many people may have different views on the proposed products, but we should hold back on making any public statements either for or against any models until there has been some guidance from the senior scholarship of this country.  Right now we need to unite together and build a case for providing alternative financing in the first place.  The second stage will be the proposed model(s) themselves.  Inshā’Allāh we are participating in a symposium where scholars from different backgrounds are invited to come together and discuss this in a comprehensive manner.

The following points, we believe, must be stressed in the survey:

  • The charging of interest is a genuine concern for Muslims;
  • There is genuinely a demand for a student financing model not based on interest;
  • Any Sharī’ah advisory committees or scholarly review boards have to consist of well-known and established scholars of Sharī’ah, who are known to hold mainstream views;
  • The alternative models suggested so far are not sufficiently different enough from conventional student loans for the average Muslim to discern, nor are they easy to understand;
  • Although we appreciate the consultation, we believe that a genuinely Sharī’ah compliant model is still wanting;
  • We will not be pacified by semantics or playing with words, we recognise the essence of the conventional and proposed models is that which was explicitly prohibited by Islām over 1400 years ago—namely the increased repayment of a loan in case of delay, in other words “pay up or else it will be increased”;
  • The structure of alternative models has to be one that is in accordance with AAIOFI (Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions) guidelines.

An Islamic duty

I believe that this is an Islamic duty upon us all, as Allāh will hold us to account based on what was in our control.  This duty falls under what Allāh says:

“Help you one another in al-Birr and al-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allāh. Verily, Allāh is Severe in punishment” [4].

Likewise the Prophet sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wasallam said: “The relationship between one believer and another is like a structure, parts of which support other parts,” and he interlaced his fingers [5].

Providing genuinely Sharī’ah compliant student financing models may not affect each and every one of us directly, but it surely will affect us indirectly.  If not your very own children, think of the uncertain future for the Muslims in the UK if a significant proportion of us are prevented from accessing higher education.  We want to make sure we have a productive and successful community, and part of that is having Muslims that seek to draw closer to Allāh subhānahu wa ta’ālā through gaining a higher level of education for being of benefit to a larger number of people and themselves, at the same time as honouring Divine injunctions.  At the moment we are at a crossroads, and it would be a great shame to choose the wrong path.  I am optimistic that every single sane, adult Muslim (and even non-Muslim) who reads this will take action, by the permission of Allāh.

A special information website has been created with the survey embedded with it, please click here to visit it [6].

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/sharia-compliant-student-finance

[2] Recorded by al-Nasā’i

[3] https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/studentfinanceconsultation

[4] Al-Qur’ān 5:2

[5] Recorded by al-Bukhāri and Muslim

[6] http://halalstudentloans.co.uk/

About Shaikh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad

Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Sharia Council (UK & Eire). He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom's Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari'ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Sharia Council as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.

4 comments

  1. What if there was a government-funded organisation called, say, the Islamic Council For Tertiary Education? Muslim students receive scholarship funding from this organisation as an award, not a loan (this is entirely similar to the kind of grants and scholarships offered by secular academic foundations worldwide). As the organisation will need to pay for personnel, premises and all the usual facilities necessary for running such an institution, it can legitimately seek payment from those who use its services by applying a service charge to its clients – i.e. Muslim students – when their education is complete. This service charge can equate to the amount of scholarship funding previously provided to the student by the organisation but may also legitimately be slightly higher as costs will inevitably increase during the period in question. In this way the figures will balance and neither party will gain from nor be a victim of usury.

  2. Muslims say a prayer before they kill an animal. Christians say a prayer before they eat it. I’m not sure why either of these practices should be thought particularly offensive. How on earth does eating a piece of meat or poultry that has been slaughtered with a prayer equate to accepting or supporting a religious practice? Why are you so threatened if a person has said a couple of words in Arabic beforehand? With so much crap going on in the world it’s ridiculous (and frankly embarrassing) that this is something of major concern to the extent that it is creating so many headlines. Granted, people should be told if they are eating halal meat, but the vitriolic responses are becoming increasingly disturbing. This is not about food standards, it is not about ‘defending’ a secular society, it is not about labelling or consumer rights or animal welfare. This is about the fact that some people just don’t like Muslims.

    Slaughterhouses are businesses, they also have “the right to choose” to conduct and practice their business in whichever way they wish in order to maximise their customer base. Pizza Express and other restaurants also have “the right to choose” what their menu consists of, again in order to maximise their customer base. Both halal-compliant slaughterhouses and Pizza Express are doing just that, nothing sinister or malicious or untoward. You have the right as the consumer to choose what you buy/eat, sure, which is why it’s important that products are labelled well and that, say, places which use halal meat say that they do. Which Pizza Express was doing anyway. This wasn’t a secret, the company are pretty clear about it on their website and if this matters so much to you then surely in order to exercise your “right to choose” as a consumer and decide whether/not to eat there you have to actually go and do some research? If you want to be an engaged consumer you have to actually be an engaged consumer, you can’t expect everybody to do it for you, you have to ask. When you buy a chocolate bar, do you expect somebody to rush up to you and say ‘BY THE WAY THAT CONTAINS NUTS~!’ or do you read the packaging?

    This is a story about lazy people who couldn’t be bothered to act like engaged consumers and are horrified to find out that they were ‘unwittingly’ being given something they never asked not to be given in the first place. That is all it is. My only concern is mislabeling food. If it is halal – it should be labelled as such. For example, the branches of subway which sell halal meat clearly show it. So, you have a choice – go in and buy halal food or not. In the case of supermarkets selling meat which is actually halal but not clearly labelled, this should change. Just like for a muslim it is important they eat halal eat meat it is important for some people (e.g. Sikhs) that their meat not be ritually slaughtered. In regards to animal welfare its a load of bullcrap. Ask the animal how it feels when it’s life is taken. Calling it ‘humane’ is just nonsense. These type of news articles are purely about inciting hatred – the only ones who don’t see it are the ones who truly believe that they have a right to hate on another group of people purely by what they believe. As my son asked “All our tongues are the same colour so why do they hate us daddy?”

    You guys can eat anything even pigs that roll in their own filth but you wont eat HALAL which is clean meat. You know, the bible also says you shouldn’t eat pork as it is ‘unclean’…..just saying for all of you stating this is a christian country. Bit of course it’s nothing to do with the meat, it’s just another excuse to have a pop at Muslims isn’t it. I for one am proud to live in a multicultural society and am glad that my child is growing up in one. I would hate for her to grow up as a little Englander with a hateful, narrow view of the world and frightened of anything even remotely different to her. Pork is banned in the christian religion. Read the bible and find out. Stop this vendetta against Halal meat……how many will get an Asian / Indian halal curry after a night Boozing! And as usual I bet the Muslim parents wouldn’t have an issue with pork etc as long it was served n cooked separately to the Halal food which would also apply if catering for vegetarians and non vegetarians!!

    British Muslims have every right to be catered for. They are as British as the rest. I think people are worried in case the ritual prayers are in fact spells which will turn them all into Muslims. This week’s row has got nothing all to do with animal welfare. The fuss is about people’s fears over the covert Islamification of society. You may or may not agree that concerns are realistic or even legitimate, but food suppliers and others concerned ought not to deny that it is an issue or answer criticisms honestly. I don’t think eating halal meat actually turns you into a Muslim. This time it is aimed at Muslims. However assaults on ritual slaughter have a long history in terms of European anti-Semitism. This is just more of the same, prejudice dressed up as concern for animal welfare.

    Taking lives, foods and shelters of others are cruelty, so, don’t take meat, fish and vegetables for food because they have lives. Don’t milk animals because they are their babies food. Don’t take drinks because they are the abodes of so many living creatures. Don’t let mothers do breast-feeding because it harms their beauty…..Just be the champion of saints of mankind! ” – Do this words sounds funny? Hope, don’t for those champions who are the modern advocates of “RIGHTS”. Stunning is unethical. Stunning causes the animal SO much pain. Halal is HUMANE and CARING to the animal. Denmark is a country that SUPPORTS animal cruelty. Science has shown the Halal is peaceful. Science has shown that stunning causes animals PAIN and SUFFERING. Centuries ago people were more natural. Stop perverted GMO and perverted food practices. Islam is the best way of life.

    Birmingham school says sorry for serving non-Halal meat to Muslim pupils. Council catering staff had wrongly dished up the non-Halal food to Muslim pupils on December 12, but details have only just come to light. On Monday parents received a letter from Craig Jansen, head of the 1,400-pupil secondary school and sixth form, in which he apologised unreservedly for the incident.

    There are hundreds of state and church schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be opted out as Muslim Academies so that non-Muslim children could enjoy their own meals in their own schools.
    IA
    London School of Islamics Trust

  3. ‘God has blighted/ cursed usury and has made alsmgiving fruitful/ productive’ Quran( )

  4. As salaamu ‘alaykum,

    The fiat money that we use is haram because it is riba based. Gold silver dates or anything which Allah swt has created is halal money. Dinar and dirham.

    We have taken as given this riba based fractional reserve monetary system and have been brainwashed into its acceptance.

    Therefore no product based on fiat money can be halal.

    It is unfortunate that scholars do not understand economics and that only Allah is Ar-Razzak and can assign value and wealth.

    Yet in the same way that man competes with Allah swt by drawing pictures or making statues of living things so man competes with Allah swt by creating wealth out of nothing.

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