Is online forex currency exchange allowed in Islam?

Question:

As-salaamu ‘alaykum.
How are you? I hope this message reaches you in the best form.
Is forex currency exchange allowed in Islam or not? If it is allowed or if not please explain in detail why and please provide proofs from the ibaarah of the Fuqaha. If easy also from Quran and Hadith would be appreciated.
An answer will be waiting. JazakAllah. May Allah reward you abundantly.

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

 

Hereunder is the answer to a previous query on Forex exchange.

In basic terms, Forex trading is the buying and selling of currencies via the internet world-wide. In the Forex market all trades result in the simultaneous buying of one currency and the selling of another. The objective when trading currencies is to exchange one currency for another in the expectation that the market price will change so that the currency you bought has increased its value relative to the one you sold.[1]

According to our research, regarding Forex Trading there are numerous problematic aspects which contravene the laws of Shari’ah. Hereunder are some of these aspects;

Selling a commodity that one does not possess or own,

It is agreed that the trader owns none of the commodities or currencies he buys and sells. In fact, not even the Forex Company owns these currencies. This company only facilitates the movement of these currencies between two parties, be those parties individuals or companies. The objection of non-ownership in relation to the seller does not apply because the seller being one of the major financial institutes or banks certainly owns the currency being sold by it to a private trader via the broker. However, this objection holds valid in relation to the private trader, when he sells a currency. As stated above, when buying the currency, the lot of currency or the amount purchased is credited to the account of the trader. However, unlike other normal electronic transfers or bank deposits, the funds are not freely and randomly accessible to the account holder. This signifies that qabdha or possession is not complete. In a normal bank transfer, which happens daily between buyers and sellers, the funds transferred are accessible to the account holder either the same day or a day or two thereafter. The account holder may then do what he wishes with those funds. They are truly and legally his, for qabdha or possession is complete and total. When this happens the deal has been validly concluded. However in Forex trading the currency one purchases is never accessible to the trader, and consequently, never becomes his to keep. Obviously, the nature of the Forex trade is such that Forex Trading Companies will never allow this to happen since a private trader is purchasing a large amount of currency for only one percent of its value, so how can he walk away with such a large amount of funds. It is thus well and truly established that the idea in Forex trading is never to allow a private trader to own or possess the lot of currency that he buys. Instead, the whole purpose of this exercise is to set into motion a cycle of currency trade from which all benefit. The brokers make their cut, the private trader earns profit on the deal, and the banks or financial companies whose currencies are bring sold obviously benefit through such large volumes of forex business. Hence the purchase that the private trader makes is just a conduit through which he generates profit. This is one of the glaring discrepancies in Forex Trading under discussion here. The lot of currency purchased is sold again before the seller has actually taken possession. This is in violation of the Shar’ee rule that one must possess movable property before re-selling or executing any transaction related to it. [2]

A second Shar’ee violation is that one is selling an item that has not been owned. Remember that, as mentioned earlier, though the trader’s account reflects a credit of 100,000 dollars, it does not mean that he owns that money. When he sells those dollars he is selling a commodity that he does not own. It is clear that selling property that one does not own, or that one will own in the near future is neither permissible nor valid.[3], [4]

A further discrepancy in the Forex game is that both buyer and seller exchange commodities on the basis of credit, a practice that has been categorically prohibited by Rasoolullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam.

The trader bought dollars which were not paid for; he then simultaneously sold yen which he did not deliver immediately. He thus bought a commodity without paying for it immediately, and sold another without immediate delivery. This is the precise definition of bay’ud dayn bid-dayn, exchanging one debt for another. The books of Fiqh quite clearly prohibit such a transaction. In the sale of fuloos or currency, it is stipulated that at least one of the two currencies being exchanged must be taken possession of for the transaction to be valid. [5][6]
The issue of online Forex trading was also discussed in the Jameeatul Muftieen (is a board comprising of 12 Muftis of South Africa). After analysing the details provided, Forex trading was ruled impermissible, as many of its aspects did not conform to the laws of Shariah. This is also the opinion of many prominent contemporary Ulama, including Mufit Taqi Usmani.[7]

 

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mufti Arshad Ali

Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad)

www.fatwa-tt.com /www.jaamia.net

 

 

 

[1] METHOD OF TRADING

When a trader wishes to enter the Forex markets he must firstly open an account to which the Forex Company (or the Holding Company) that handles Forex trading will have direct access. This account is held with one of the major banks chosen by the Forex trading company. Minimum balance for this account is (or was) USD2,500. From this account the Forex Company will deduct losses sustained by the trader, fees when necessary, and it will also credit this account with profits earned by the trader.

There is another reason why this account has to be opened. In the Forex market a person trades on margin, and they refer to this account as a margin account. The amount of cash in that account serves as a leverage to purchase. The leverage is 100:1, meaning that the trader uses one percent of his cash to buy one lot of currency ($100,000). So if he has 2,000 dollars in his account, he may purchase up to 200,000 dollars worth of currency. In other words, the cash in his account serves as collateral for the purchase of currency. The trader is required to put down one percent of the purchase price as collateral.

The trader does business via the internet, telephone, and mobile phones. A typical transaction is for a trader to place an order via one of the above three methods for one lot of currency, such lot being normally one hundred thousand of the base currency, i.e. US dollars. At the same time that he buys USD, he sells another currency. Currencies are bought and sold in pairs. For example, he would buy USD100,000 and simultaneously sell Yen to the value of 100,000 US dollars. It is normal procedure that after placing an order, that amount of dollars is credited to the trader’s account after two days and is clearly reflected on his account statement which he can view online. When the trader buys 100,000 dollars, it is clear that he does not have any funds in his account to pay for that lot of US Dollars, since his account just holds the minimum deposit mentioned above. In order to have funds in his account to pay for this order he has to re-sell the dollars he bought in exchange for Japanese Yen. The trader has to sell that lot by the end of the day that the amount was credited to him. When he does this, he will have the equivalent of USD100,000 in Japanese Yen, which he will then use to pay for the Dollars he bought earlier in the day. Normally the trader exits his position at the end of the day, i.e. he sells the lot of dollars that he had purchased at the start of the day’s trading. In so doing he ensures that he has money to pay for the dollars bought.

One buys a hundred thousand dollars, and simultaneously sells Jap Yen. But there are no Yen to pay for the dollars, and vice versa. The dollars were delivered to him (i.e. into his account, for it is reflected there by the end of that day.) But he has not paid for dollars, thus making this a debt on the shoulders of the trader. He owes the seller (who is not known to him) one hundred thousand dollars. So where does he get the funds to pay for it? This is done by him selling those same dollars to another buyer in return for Japanese Yen (since this was the pair the trader had chosen at the start).

 

[2] الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (5/ 147)

(لَا) يَصِحُّ اتِّفَاقًا كَكِتَابَةٍ وَإِجَارَةٍ وَ (بَيْعِ مَنْقُولٍ) قَبْلَ قَبْضِهِ وَلَوْ مِنْ بَائِعِهِ كَمَا سَيَجِيءُ

الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (5/ 148)

بِخِلَافِ التَّصَرُّفِ الَّذِي يَتِمُّ قَبْلَ الْقَبْضِ كَالْبَيْعِ مَثَلًا، فَإِنَّهُ لَا يَجُوزُ؛ لِأَنَّهُ إذَا قَبَضَهُ الْمُشْتَرِي الثَّانِي لَا يَكُونُ قَابِضًا عَنْ الْأَوَّلِ لِعَدَمِ تَوَقُّف الْبَيْعِ عَلَى الْقَبْضِ فَيَلْزَمُ مِنْهُ تَمْلِيكُ الْمَبِيعِ قَبْلَ قَبْضِهِ، وَهُوَ لَا يَصِحُّ

 

[3] الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (4/ 555)

فَلَا ضَرُورَةَ إلَى تَجْوِيزِ الْعَقْدِ فِي الْمَعْدُومِ مُصَادِمًا لِلنَّصِّ، وَهُوَ مَا رُوِيَ «أَنَّهُ – عَلَيْهِ الصَّلَاةُ وَالسَّلَامُ – نَهَى عَنْ بَيْعِ مَا لَيْسَ عِنْدَ الْإِنْسَانِ وَرَخَّصَ فِي السَّلَمِ»

 

[4] However, while we might be inclined to agree that wikaalat is found here to a certain extent, the profit earned on such a deal cannot be lawful; in fact such profit will be tantamount to ribaa, for it is an excess that is earned without any tangible exchange. The trader has not laid out any cash or commodity on the basis of which he derives profit. As for the margin account which he has opened, the money in that account is not expended or employed to generate profit. The account serves only to provide token collateral, to allow deduction of fees and to receive profits earned on the Forex deals. None of that money is being invested in any income-deriving venture.

 

 

[5] المحيط البرهاني في الفقه النعماني (6/ 322)

وإذا باع فلساً بفلسين حالة الرواج، فهذه المسألة على ثلاثة أوجه: (46أ3)

أحدها: أن يبيع فلساً بغير عينه بفلسين بغير أعيانهما، وفي هذا الوجه البيع فاسد لوجهين:

أحدهما: أن هذا بيع الدين بالدين.

والثاني: أن الجنس بانفراده محرِّم للنساء عندنا على ما يأتي بيانه في موضعه إن شاء الله تعالى.

المبسوط للسرخسي (12/ 127)

فَأَمَّا تَعْجِيلُ رَأْسِ الْمَالِ فَنَقُولُ إذَا كَانَ رَأْسُ الْمَالِ دَرَاهِمَ أَوْ دَنَانِيرَ يَكُونُ التَّعْجِيلُ فِيهِ شَرْطًا قِيَاسًا وَاسْتِحْسَانًا؛ لِأَنَّ الدَّرَاهِمَ وَالدَّنَانِيرَ لَا يَتَعَيَّنَانِ فِي الْعُقُودِ فَيَكُونُ هَذَا بَيْعَ الدَّيْنِ بِالدَّيْنِ وَذَلِكَ لَا يَجُوزُ لِنَهْيِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ – صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – «عَنْ بَيْعِ الْكَالِئِ بِالْكَالِئِ» يَعْنِي: النَّسِيئَةَ بِالنَّسِيئَةِ

 

بدائع الصنائع في ترتيب الشرائع (5/ 202)

(وَمِنْهَا) أَنْ يَكُونَ مَقْبُوضًا فِي مَجْلِسِ السَّلَمِ لِأَنَّ الْمُسْلَمَ فِيهِ دَيْنٌ، وَالِافْتِرَاقُ لَا عَنْ قَبْضِ رَأْسِ الْمَالِ يَكُونُ افْتِرَاقًا عَنْ دَيْنٍ بِدَيْنٍ وَإِنَّهُ مَنْهِيٌّ عَنْهُ لِمَا رُوِيَ أَنْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ – صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – «نَهَى عَنْ بَيْعِ الْكَالِئِ بِالْكَالِئِ» أَيْ النَّسِيئَةِ بِالنَّسِيئَةِ

 

(Contemporary Fatawa, P. 141, Idara Islamiat)

[6] If payment from one side is deferred, then the transaction will only be valid with the current market rate (at the time of agreement). In this case any excess amount or percentage added will be considered interest.

[7] http://www.albalagh.net/qa/Forex_currency_trading.shtml

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