- By: Zoraya Vadillo
Once again, Shaykh Umar Vadillo delivered a revolutionary Masterclass on Muamalat during the last weekend of February at Selayang Community College in Kuala Lumpur speaking on the subject of Islamic market places and the laws that surround this fundamental institution of Islam.
Islamic law can be divided into two parts: Ibadah and Muamalat. Shaykh Umar first begins by explaining, "Ibadah is the science of the relationship between us and Allah, while Muamalat is the science of the relationships between humankind." He leads on to explain how religion today has been reduced to 'personal morality', leaving out the social, political and economic aspects which has ultimately brought us to the condition of Islamic practice nowadays; People focused on a narrow, individualistic set of rules while ignoring the larger social issues.
Muamalat can therefore be understood as firstly, the interaction in Economics: trading, commerce, lending, borrowing, and secondly in 'Personal interactions' such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc. During his class, he brought the focus back to the part of Muamalat that has been completely distorted in the framework of Islamic economics today: Trading, financial institutions and contracts.
Over two days, topics such as "Money and markets", "Guilds and contracts", "Banking and paper money" uncovered how the global economy has been molded into what it is today.
By comparing our current economic structure with the traditional structure and practice of trading at the height of Islam, during the time of the Messenger (saw), the misinterpretation of Islamic practices is made completely clear. Chief among the misinterpretations has been the redefinition of Riba that has taken place in the last 200 years which has conveniently resulted in the rise of a modern interpretation of Islamic finance, Islamic economics, Islamic contracts and laughably, the creation of Islamic Banking, a joke by Islamic standards.
The modern interpretation of Riba is understood by most as 'interest'. Interest however is only ONE part of Riba. Shaykh Umar explains, "If we look at the definition of Riba from the Tafsir of Kadi Abu Bakr ibn Al-Arabi we find it says "Any unjustified increment between the value of the goods received and the value of the goods given." Increment here means something has been added to the transaction that isn’t justified by its nature. Any increase of goods or time added to a transaction."
By looking at the model of Islamic Banking today and the financial contracts that it upholds, we immediately find the disparities in both the value of the goods exchanged and a disparity in the timing of the transactions. These disparities can be defined as 'Riba Al Fadl' (Disparity in the number of goods) and 'Riba Al-Nasiah' (Disparity in the timing of the transactions).
Not only do we see how Islamic financial institutions have corrupted traditional Islamic finance and trading contracts, but Shaykh Umar further explain how paper money, a promissory note, is not acceptable in transactions as it represents the promise of paying a certain value, but is not value within itself. This results is the practice of Riba Al-Nasiah, a disparity in the timing of the goods given and the goods received.
But over the two days of discussing the implications of Riba in our economy today, a ray of hope also emerges; a solution to the current global economic crisis is brought to light. "Islam stands unique in understanding the nature of this problem (the economic crisis) and in understanding the solutions to this problem." states Shaykh Umar.
By looking at the unique model of Islamic market places we understand that there is a way out of this financial system.
Public market places in Islam were wakafs, just like mosques. The same way a mosque does not require a fee to enter and you cannot rent a praying space in a mosque, you did not have to pay to set up a trade at the market. Everyone was welcome to trade so long as they abided by the general regulations of market. On top of that, the markets were divided into guilds who upheld the standard and qualities of the products on sale.
In his last topic of the masterclass, 'Return of the Dar al-Islam', Shaykh Umar sheds light on how to re-establish Dar al-Islam through the formation of market places following the proper laws of Muamalat. He reveals how Public market places will alleviate the Muslims from the clutches of the tyrant financial system of today liberating them from this situation of riba we find ourselves in and re-establishing the proper sunnah of trading.
But through re-establishing this fundamental institution of Islam, the solution will bring freedom not only to the Muslim Ummah, but will also give freedom to the people of the World and release them from the current economic slavery.