Parallel Salam - Explained

Since the modern Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions are using the instrument of parallel salam, some rules for the validity of this arrangement are necessary to observe: 

1. In an arrangement of parallel salam, the bank enters into two different contracts. In one of them, the bank is the buyer and in the second one the bank is the seller. Each one of these contracts must be independent of the other. They cannot be tied up in a manner that the rights and obligations of one contract are dependant on the rights and obligations of the parallel contract. Each contract should have its own force and its performance should not be contingent on the other.

For example, if A has purchased from B 1000 bags of wheat by way of salam to be delivered on 31 December, A can contract a parallel salam with C to deliver to him 1000 bags of wheat on 31 December. But while contracting parallel salam with C, the delivery of wheat to C cannot be conditioned with taking delivery from B. Therefore, even if B did not deliver wheat on 31 December, A is duty bound to deliver 1000 bags of wheat to C. He can seek whatever recourse he has against B, but he cannot rid himself from his liability to deliver wheat to C.

Similarly, if B has delivered defective goods which do not conform with the agreed specifications, A is still obligated to deliver the goods to C according to the specifications agreed with him.

2. Parallel salam is allowed with a third party only. The seller in the first contract cannot be made purchaser in the parallel contract of salam, because it will be a buy-back contract, which is not permissible in Shariah. Even if the purchaser in the second contract is a separate legal entity, but it is fully owned by the seller in the first contract the arrangement will not be allowed, because in practical terms it will amount to ‘buy-back’ arrangement. For example A has purchased 1000 bags of wheat by way of salam from B, a joint stock company. B has a subsidiary C, which is a separate legal entity but is fully owned by B. A cannot contract the parallel salam with C. However, if C is not wholly owned by B, A can contract parallel salam with it, even if some share-holders are common between B and C.


Source: Introduction to Islamic Finance. Republished with the kind permission of Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani.
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