Points and gifts from the bank

Q: Few common bank related queries:

1) Zaid had a debit card with Conventional Bank International for many years. Later on the bank introduced a points system of rewarding the users of the debit card for the purchasers made with the card. The value of points awarded have no relationship with his bank balance and therefore its not given as a benefit of a loan made. The bank receives a commission from the supplier for every purchase made by the purchaser and in turn filters some of the benefits back to the purchaser via a points system. Will these points be permissible for the cardholder to use.

2) Some scholars view deposits held by the bank as qabda of amaan with the ijaazat of tasarruf. Does hazrat agree with this?

3) Is it permissible to accept gifts in general from banks.

Bismillaah

A: 1, 2, 3)  The money kept in the bank is treated as a loan given to the bank, thus any benefit one receives from the bank whether in cash, kind or points over and above the money placed in the bank is deemed as interest. Hence, it is impermissible to accept the points given by the bank. The Ulama explain that placing money by someone as amaanat and allowing them to use it causes it to become a qardh (loan). For further details refer to http://muftionline.co.za/node/5616 and http://muftionline.co.za/node/5380

And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.

يَأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَأْكُلُوا الرِّبَوا أَضْعَافًا مُّضَعَفَةً وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ ﴿آل عمران: ١٣٠﴾

عن جابر قال لعن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم آكل الربا وموكله وكاتبه وشاهديه وقال هم سواء (صحيح مسلم # 1598)

عن عبد الله بن حنظلة غسيل الملائكة قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم درهم ربا يأكله الرجل وهو يعلم أشد من ستة وثلاثين زنية ( مسند أحمد # 21957)

وعن أبي بردة بن أبي موسى قال: قدمت المدينة فلقيت عبد الله بن سلا م فقال: إنك بأرض فيها الربا فاش إذا كان لك على رجل حق فأهدى إليك حمل تبن أو حمل شعير أو حبل قت فلا تأخذه فإنه ربا. رواه البخاري

الربا فضل خال عن عوض شرط لأحد المتعاقدين في المعاوضة (فتح باب العناية بشرح النقاية 2/355)

باب الربا هو لغة: مطلق الزيادة وشرعا (فضل) … (خال عن عوض) … (بمعيار شرعي) … (مشروط) ذلك الفضل (لأحد المتعاقدين) أي بائع أو مشتر … (في المعاوضة)

قال الشامي: (قوله أي بائع أو مشتر) أي مثلا فمثلهما المقرضان والراهنان قهستاني قال: ويدخل فيه ما إذا شرط الانتفاع بالرهن كالاستخدام والركوب والزراعة واللبس وشرب اللبن وأكل الثمر فإن الكل ربا حرام كما في الجواهر والنتف. (رد المحتار مع الدر المختار 5/168-170)

” كل قرض جر منفعة فهو وجه من وجوه الربا ” موقوف . السنن الكبرى للبيهقي

Answered by:

Mufti Zakaria Makada

Checked & Approved:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)


Q:

A) My understanding is that a benefit which arises as a direct consequence of a loan will be deemed interest i.e. the illat for the benefit arising is the loan itself. Any incidental benefit will not be regarded as interest. To illustrate this by way of example : Zaid Maaldaar owns Maaldaar Wholesalers,the largest and cheapest grocery store in town. Zaid lends Yusuf Faqeer  10k. It will not be regarded as impermissible for Yusuf Faqeer to purchase from Maaldaar Wholesalers  eventhough there is a loan given and a benefit to Zaid. The reason being is that the illat for the benefit to Zaid is the purchase of groceries by Yusuf and not the loan granted by Zaid.

B) If a person A has deposited 20 million for the last 10 years he will not be awarded even 1 point so long as he does not purchase any goods with his card. Person B on the other hand will receive 1000 points if he makes purchases even with a debit (negative) balance so the  illat for earning the points is the  purchase or else how is it possible to earn points or any benefits with a negative balance.

C) Being a cardholder/ account holder is just a shart from a management point of view similar to the shart of being a cardholder in order to make purchases from Makro for example. Many others suppliers have a similar policy in place. This in no way impacts on the illat that the points are based on the purchases alone and not on the balance or negative balance as alluded to above.

My humble understanding is the hukm is based on the illat and not on the shart and all the evidence available indicates that the illat is the purchases that the consumer makes.

A separate point worth noting is that the deeper economics of the matter (not the sharee perspective) is that the benefits that the consumer is awarded by using his card is actually a ” refund “of a small portion of the money that he spent in the first place as this expense that the supplier incurs to the bank is already factored in the selling price which the consumer paid.

Bismillaah

A: The bank is a riba based institute. Its entire operation revolves purely around interest and usury. Hence, the money accepted by the bank from its depositors is accepted with the aim of promoting riba i.e providing interest bearing loans to its clientele and thereafter distributing some percentage of their “riba profits” to all their depositors. The money accepted by the bank is not done objectively for safe keeping. Hence all the transactions should be viewed with the eye that every tool they can use to boost their riba business and every bait they can present whereby they will be successful in attracting people towards riba, they will not hesitate in making it available to the public. Thus when we have understood that the money kept in the bank is treated as a loan given to the bank, any extra benefit that the bank gives one will not be permissible whether in cash kind or points.

Furthermore, we should understand that when these points and benefits are pre-conditionally promised by the bank over and above the money one has in the bank (in the case of one using one’s debit card or taking a loan from the bank in the case of using one’s credit card), then since this is an exchange which is not in lieu of anything, it enters under the definition of riba. Hence it will be impermissible. It is obvious that the bank is only giving you this added benefit because of the money you have with them or because of the loan you are taking from them. Thus this cannot be compared to the case where a person loans some money to somebody and thereafter he comes to buy something from his shop.

The author of Hidaayah as well as other Hanafi jurists have defined interest in the following words:

لأن الربا هو الفضل المستحق لأحد المتعاقدين في المعاوضة الخالي عن عوض شرط فيه

Interest is that excess devoid of any compensation which either of the transacting parties is entitled to due to it being a pre-condition in that transaction.

Using the card is not a recognised amal in Shari’ah that can make one entitled to receiving any wealth (benefits, etc) Hence regarding the card to be the illat and the bank the shart is illogical. This does not conform to the correct application of sabab (shart) and illat mentioned in the books of usools. Attributing the benefits to the card independently and not the bank who is the actual giver of it is strange; since the card cannot give anyone anything. The card can be compared to a phone call the bank asks you to make whenever you require a loan and on the phone they tell you that with the loan we give you money, benefits, points, etc. In this case we will understand that it is not permissible. Then how in the case of the card which is provided to you by the bank (and they ask you to receive your loan or take back your money through the card) be any different?

And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.

الهداية 3 / 78

الربا فضل خال عن عوض شرط لأحد المتعاقدين في المعاوضة (فتح باب العناية بشرح النقاية 2/355)

باب الربا هو لغة: مطلق الزيادة وشرعا (فضل) … (خال عن عوض) … (بمعيار شرعي) … (مشروط) ذلك الفضل (لأحد المتعاقدين) أي بائع أو مشتر … (في المعاوضة)

قال الشامي: (قوله أي بائع أو مشتر) أي مثلا فمثلهما المقرضان والراهنان قهستاني قال: ويدخل فيه ما إذا شرط الانتفاع بالرهن كالاستخدام والركوب والزراعة واللبس وشرب اللبن وأكل الثمر فإن الكل ربا حرام كما في الجواهر والنتف. (رد المحتار مع الدر المختار 5/168-170)

Answered by:

Mufti Zakaria Makada

Checked & Approved:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)