Musharakah – Dishonesty
Another apprehension against musharakah financing is that the dishonest clients may exploit the instrument of musharakah by not paying any return to the financiers. They can always show that the business did not earn any profit. Indeed, they can claim that it has suffered a loss in which case not only the profit, but also the principal amount will be jeopardized.
It is, no doubt, a valid apprehension, especially in societies where corruption is the order of the day. However, solution to this problem is not as difficult as is generally believed or exaggerated.
If all the banks in a country are run on pure Islamic pattern with a careful support from the Central Bank and the government, the problem of dishonesty is not hard to overcome. First of all, a well-designed system of auditing should be implemented whereby the accounts of all the clients are fully maintained and properly controlled. It is already discussed that the profits may be calculated to the basis of gross margins only. It will reduce the possibility of disputes and misappropriation. However, if any misconduct, dishonesty or negligence is established against a client, he will be subjected to punitive steps, and may be deprived of availing any facility from any bank in the country, at least for a specified period.
These steps will serve as strong deterrent against concealing the actual profits or committing any other act of dishonesty. Otherwise also, the clients of the banks cannot afford to show artificial losses constantly, because it will be against their own interest in many respects. It is true that even after taking all such precautions, there will remain a possibility of some cases where dishonest clients may succeed in their evil designs, but the punitive steps and the general atmosphere of the business will gradually reduce the number of such cases (Even in an interest-based economy, the defaulters have always been creating the problem of bad debts) But it should not be taken as a justification, or as an excuse, for rejecting the whole system of musharakah.
Undoubtedly, the apprehension of dishonesty is more severe for the Islamic Banks and Financial institutions working in isolation from the main stream of conventional banks. They have not much support from their respective governments and central Banks. They cannot change the system, nor can they impose their own laws and regulations. However, they should not forget that they are not just commercial institutions. They have been established to introduce a new system of banking which has its own philosophy. They are duty bound to promote this new system, even if they apprehend that it will reduce the size of their profits to some extent. Therefore, they should start using the instrument of musharakah, at least on a selective basis. Each and every bank has a number of clients whose integrity is beyond all doubts. The Islamic banks should, at least, start financing them on the basis of true musharakah. It will help setting good precedents in the market and induce others to follow suit. Moreover, there are some sectors of financing where musharakah can be used easily. For example, the use of musharakah instrument in financing exports has not much room for dishonesty. The exporter has a specific order from abroad. The prices are agreed. The cost is not difficult to determine. Payments are normally secured by a letter of credit. The payments are made through the bank itself. There is no reason in such cases why the musharakah arrangement should not be adopted. Similarly, financing of imports may also be designed on the basis of musharakah with some precautions, as explained earlier.
Source: Republished with the kind permission of Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani.
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