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We are interested in buying a house the halal way here in Toronto [Canada]. Is it possible for you to guide us? Can you suggest any organisations we can contact? 


May I suggest that you carefully study this article on our website: click here.

1. The Canadian form of Land mortgage is almost exactly the same in principle as the English/British Realty mortgage.
 Such a mortgage, although called 'mortgage' in reality is not a mortgage under the Muslim Law. To call it a 'mortgage'  rather than a 'purchase and sale transaction with deferred payments' is therefore just a misnomer. And this is what causes  the problems in the minds of the general Muslim population who just go by the incorrect designation/name given to a  document or a transaction and consequently consider Canadian mortgages to be unlawful under the Shari'ah. But this is  not the case. 

 2. As the title of the article indicates, a land mortgage between a Muslim living in a non-Muslim country (e.g.. Canada)  and and non-Muslim Canadian bank or Mortgage company, is a contract entered into between a Muslim and  a  non-Muslim both living in a non-Muslim country. Interest on such a transaction is absolutely lawful according to the legal  opinions (fatwa) of no less an authority than Imam Abu Hanifah r.a. Other jurists (fuqaha) have different and opposite  opinions. For my part, I prefer to rely on the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah r.a. as it makes sense to me. The rationale and  the reasoning of Imam Abu Hanifah and other great Ulama and Fuqaha such as Shaikh Abdul Azeez Muhaddith of Delhi  are very persuasive, as far as I am concerned. 

 3. Basically the issue involved here is an issue of International law. Legal aspects of extra-territorial jurisdictions, and  even practical difficulties, or the impossibility of applying or enforcing Muslim law in a non-Muslim country, are matters  which are not easy for ordinary Muslims without legal backgrounds to appreciate the nuances or finer points of law. I am not in any way, either directly of directly, inferring disrespect for the intelligence or common sense of good practising  Muslim people.  I am only trying to point out that, like any other subject, Muslim International law also has its own  special features and one needs a proper legal capability and understanding of difficult, complex and finer points of law. Abu Hanifah and other scholars of this high calibre do indeed possess such capabilities that ordinary people do not. 

4.  Now, those who prefer not to follow Imam Abu Hanifah are quite free to do so, but it will make life difficult fo them   in the West. I am of the view that the Islamic principle laid down by the Qur'an and the holy Prophet, p.b.u.h. in relation to making our din easy for us is very important and can only be disregarded at our peril. Our beloved Prophet, p.b.u.h. has also made it clear for our benefit that differences of opinion between Fuqaha in matters of Ijtihad is a blessing. Adopting the legal opinion of one jurist in preference to another jurist, in the odd circumstance or situation, is obviously the right way. Obviously, it goes without saying that one cannot make a practise of picking and choosing from different schools as a normal course of action and thus end up using this concession as a habit. Adopting this principle in practical life should not be abused. 

Question To print this letter click here.

It is heartening to see that the US, and other countries ostensibly guided by the United Nations, are seriously trying to help solve the political situation of the Afghan people.

However, like so many other people, I am quite concerned for the poor Afghans because now they will have to choose between a rock and hard place. For example, on the one hand they will have the lobby of the American and Turkish governments to push for a  SECULAR government by trying to bring back Zahir Shah. As  you'll recall, he was deposed because of his national policy for the continuance of the legacy of his predecessor Amanullah Khan. Mr. Khan followed his contemporary, Kamal Ata-turk of Turkey in imposing secularism against the wishes of their people. On the other side of the coin, we have a Pakistani general (Musharraf) and the Saudi Arabian king  trying to persuade the Afghans that an authoritative/dictatorial, theocratic government, with its own extremist approach and interpretation of Islam as well as  enforcement of the Shari'ah [Islamic Law] would be the solution for them.

1) How is an Islamic government different from a secular government, say, like in the U.S.A.? Can you also tell me what fundamental Islamic principles are involved in determining the pros and cons of an Islamic government?

2) Does Islam permit monarchy and/or military governments? Does Islam provide for or is Islamic political thought consistent with modern democracy?



1) In order to answer your first question, we must first determine what the words 'secular' and 'religious' mean. According to Webster's Dictionary, 'secular' is defined as "the belief that religious influence should be restricted, and in particular that education, morality, the state etc. should be independent of religion." And so what does 'religious' mean according to Islam? The word 'Islam' itself explains it quite nicely. Islam means peaceand also submission to God. The purpose of life is to live it well  - well being - both in this world and in the Hereafter.

In this context, we should also deal with the term 'theocracy'. Theocracy is defined, according to Webster's dictionary as a "government by priests or men claiming to know the will of God; a state thus governed."

Islam is theocratic only in the sense that its fundamentals are believed to be God-given. But God, who gave man reason and created an ordered nature, left him free to apply different degrees of management as and when various situations demanded. This book of scripture (the Qur'an) could only deal with the fundamentals of life. If you were to write them all down in sequence they would not cover more than ten pages. Besides emphasis on faith in the unity of God, the Qur'an exhorts man to desist from any worship of gods or idols and instead to worship the One Ideal Source of Existence Who is the Creator and Preserver of all values. He is to be worshipped in spirit and not through any graven or mental image. 

There is little given in the Qur'an that would be considered to be a set of unchangeable eternal laws. Instead it mostly exhorts man to practice social justice and personal purity. It is mainly a book of basic principles, some of which could be applied to the circumstances as they arose. It is these principles that are eternal. They are not, and are not meant to be, temporary fundamental laws that were meant to be applied only in one time or era. Islam thus chalked out a system of life. Note that there was very little in any essential phase of life that it did not touch. Besides essential religious beliefs, the fundamentals of social, economic and political existence were taught and practised and an actual powerful state founded upon them.

For a detailed discussion (62-pages) I recommend that you study chapter XII "Basic concepts of the Islamic State" in Dr. Khalifa Abdul Hakim's well known book Islamic Ideology from which parts of above passages were taken or paraphrased. [We have two chapters from that book on this website Ch. 1  Ch. 15]

Even though I have only dealt with these basic principles on a superficial level, I would like move on to the differences between the Islamic/theocratic and secular systems. I must necessarily restrict myself here to discussing only the main differences. According to Islam, man is a social and a political being. Therefore in every respect, life is intermingled and bound up with the welfare of society. The highest organization in society is the state. Islam has given to the world the practical form and ideals of statehood. Therefore, the question of how religion should inspire, inform and discipline life, is naturally related to the question of how should it be related to the highest organization of society (i.e. the state). Webster's dictionary hints that theocracy is a state that can have either an overt or a covert religious basis. It may be governed by priests or by religiously sanctioned customs. In all theocracy, somehow, the invisible must be the basis of the visible. Theocracies are defenders of particular metaphysical beliefs. These beliefs may be codified or may be embodied in time-honoured customs, rituals and traditions.

In Islam, sovereignty belongs to God. Governance is a trust that God gave to man so that man could minister to the well-being of all -- without exception. The power of human rulers as successors of the Prophet, in the matter of legislation was restricted. They could, however, interpret the Divine laws and legislate in cases where the laws at the time of the Prophet were silent. A 'social contract' (i.e. contract of obedience) called bai'ah, procured between a ruler and the ruled, forms the basis of the Islamic state organization.

On the other hand, a secular state would be one in which either the welfare of all its subjects, or more specifically, the well-being of special classes, is its primary aim. They do not derive their laws or sanctions from a supra-rational revealed source. They are free to legislate as the time and circumstances require. Even if they are in a  highly developed state, they may define certain fundamental rights and duties of its citizens without any reference to God or gods or any revealed source. Such states make no distinction between the citizens on the basis or their race or religious convictions. Since a secular state is indifferent to religion, there may be wide religious liberty. For the service of the state or for any rights or privileges, the religion of a citizen would neither benefit nor harm him.  These are the broad-based claims of a secular state.

But just as a theocratic state can assume various forms, so can a secular state. Mere secularism is no guarantee of any particular ideology. So it is that 'democracy' has become the vaguest of concepts. Even Hitler's Nazi government claimed to be a democracy. The persecution of the Jews was a demonstration of this democracy, because it was the will of an exasperated majority giving its verdict against an alleged anti-national minority. The fascists also claimed that they had invented a special brand of democracy that was superior to the anglo-American type.

The Muslim state was founded on certain clear principles. Because it was founded on the basis of religion, it would rightly be termed a theocracy, but the mere term 'theocracy' would be of no use unless we define it more closely. The Muslim state as founded by the holy Prophet, and developed further by his immediate successors, gives us certain basic concepts.

1) Muslims, like the followers of every other religion, have a right to enjoy religious freedom.

2) If they are unable to defend their life and honour and reach the limit of patience and endurance in an abode of tyranny, they should migrate to a safer place.

3) Islam also visualized the possibility of Muslims living as subjects in non-Muslim states. A Muslim who lives as a citizen in a non-Muslim state enters into a tacit contract with that government to abide by its laws. But in that contact he cannot jeopardize the essentials of Islam so far as his personal life is concerned. Islam lays great stress on the fulfilment of covenants and treaties even if they are in some respects unpalatable for the Muslims. Whenever a Muslim travels to a non-Muslim state, it is enjoined upon him to respect the life and property of its inhabitants.

4) When non-Muslims live in a Muslim state, they are to be granted complete liberty of religious belief so that they may become peaceful and loyal subjects of that State.

The book Islamic Ideology gives of total of 22 such basic concepts and this is not a complete list either.

2) And now for your second question:

With regards to forms of government (i.e. monarchy, military government, democracy etc.), the Qur'an speaks of kings, both good and bad and never refers to other forms of government, such as republics. For detailed information, see Para 273 "The Caliphate, from Introduction to Islam by Dr. M. Hamidullah. The form of government established after the death of the Prophet was an intermediary form between a hereditary monarchy and a republic --  the Caliph was elected for life. Islam attaches no importance to the external form of government however. It is satisfied if i) the well being of man in both the worlds is aimed for; and ii) the Divine law applied. Thus, a monarchy, military rule, democracy, republic or even a joint rule are all acceptable forms so long as the above two conditions are satisfied. Please see Para 281.

It is the aim(s) realized by a single chief who undertakes both spiritual and temporal functions. Therefore he is recognized and obeyed as a ruler. There is no separation of the spiritual and the temporal leadership as is the case of a caliph.

However, the division of power through specialization in each function (rather than a divorce between these two aspects of state life) is also legally permissible, as indicted by a famous case cited by the Qur'an (2:246-247). See also Para 282 for details.

for the English translation see below

Qur'an 2:246
Hast thou not turned thy vision to the chiefs of the Children of Israel after (the time of) Moses?They said to a prophet (that was) among them: "Appoint for us a king, that we may fight in the cause of Allah." He said: "Is it not possible, if ye were commanded to fight, that that ye will not fight?" They said: "How could we refuse to fight in the cause of Allah, seeing that we were turned out of our homes and our families?" but when they were commanded to fight, they turned back, except a small band among them. But Allah has full knowledge of those who do wrong. 

Qur'an 2:247
Their Prophet said to them: "Allah hath appointed Talut as king over you." They said: "How can he exercise authority over us when we are better fitted than he to exercise authority, and he is not even gifted with wealth in abundance?" He said: "Allah hath chosen him above you, and hath gifted him abundantly with knowledge and bodily prowess: Allah granteth His authority to whom He pleaseth. Allah careth for all, and He knoweth all things."