Running Musharakah Account
Many financial institutions finance the working capital of an enterprise by opening a running account for them from where the clients draw different amounts at different intervals, but at the same time, they keep returning their surplus amounts. Thus the process of debit and credit goes on up to the date of maturity, and the interest is calculated on the basis of daily products.
Can such an arrangement be possible under the musharakah or mudarabah modes of financing? Obviously, being a new phenomenon, no express answer to this question can be found in the classical works of Islamic Fiqh. However, keeping in view the basic principles of musharakah the following procedure may be suggested for this purpose:
(i) A certain percentage of the actual profit must be allocated for the management.
(ii) The remaining percentage of the profit must be allocated for the investors.
(iii) The loss, if any, should be borne by the investors only in exact proportion of their respective investments.
(iv) The average balance of the contributions made to the musharakah account calculated on the basis of daily products shall be treated as the share capital of the financier.
(v) The profit accruing at the end of the term shall be calculated on daily product basis, and shall be distributed accordingly.
If such an arrangement is agreed upon between the parties, it does not seem to violate any basic principle of the musharakah. However, this suggestion needs further consideration and research by the experts of Islamic jurisprudence. Practically, it means that the parties have agreed to the principle that the profit accrued to the musharakah portfolio at the end of the term will be divided on the capital utilized per day, which will lead to the average of the profit earned by each rupee per day. The amount of this average profit per rupee per day will be multiplied by the number of the days each investor has put his money into the business, which will determine his profit entitlement on daily product basis.
Some contemporary scholars do not allow this method of calculating profits on the ground that it is just a conjectural method which does not reflect the actual profits really earned by a partner of the musharakah, because the business may have earned huge profits during a period when a particular investor had no money invested in the business at all, or had a very negligible amount invested, still, he will be treated at par with other investors who had huge amounts invested in the business during that period. Conversely, the business may have suffered a great loss during a period when a particular investor had huge amounts invested in it. Still, he will pass on some of his loss to other investors who had no investment in that period or their size of investment was negligible.
This argument can be refuted on the ground that it is not necessary in a musharakah that a partner should earn profit on his own money only. Once a musharakah pool comes into existence, the profits accruing to the joint pool are earned by all the participants, regardless of whether their money is or is not utilized in a particular transaction. This is particularly true of the Hanafi School which does not deem it necessary for a valid musharakah that the monetary contributions of the partners are mixed up together. It means that if A has entered into a musharakah contract with B, but has not yet disbursed his money into the joint pool, he will still be entitled to a share in the profit of the transactions effected by B for the musharakah through his own money.1 Although his entitlement to a share in the profit will be subject to the disbursement of money undertaken by him, yet the fact remains that the profit of this particular transaction did not accrue to his money, because the money disbursed by him at a later stage may be used for another transaction. Suppose, A and B entered into a musharakah to conduct a business of Rs. 100,000/-
They agreed that each one of them shall contribute Rs. 50,000/- and the profits will be distributed by them equally. A did not yet invest his Rs. 50,000/- into the joint pool. B found a profitable deal and purchased two air-conditions for the musharakah for Rs. 50,000/- contributed by himself and sold them for Rs. 60,000/-, thus earning a profit of Rs. 10000/-. A contributed his share of Rs. 50,000/- after this deal. The partners purchased two refrigerators through this contribution which could not be sold at a greater price than Rs. 48000/- meaning thereby that this deal resulted in a loss of Rs. 2000/- Although the transaction effected by A’s money brought loss of Rs. 2000/- while the profitable deal of air-conditions was financed entirely by B’s money in which A had no contribution, yet A will be entitled to a share in the profit of the first deal. The loss of Rs. 2000/- in the second deal will be set off from the profit of the first deal reducing the aggregate profit to Rs. 8000/-. This profit of Rs. 8000/- will be shared by both partners equally. It means that A will get Rs. 4000/-, even though the transaction effected by his money has suffered loss.
The reason is that once a musharakah contract is entered into by the parties, all the subsequent transactions effected for musharakah belong to the joint pool, regardless of whose individual money is utilized in them. Each partner is a party to each transaction by virtue of his entering into the contract of musharakah.
A possible objection to the above explanation may be that in the above example, A had undertaken to pay Rs. 50,000/- and it was known before hand that he will contribute a specified amount to the musharakah. But in the proposed running account of musharakah where the partners are coming in and going out every day, nobody has undertaken to contribute any specific amount. Therefore, the capital contributed by each partner is unknown at the time of entering into musharakah, which should render the musharakah invalid.
The answer to the above objection is that the classical scholars of Islamic Fiqh have different views about whether it is necessary for a valid musharakah that the capital is pre-known to the partners. The Hanafi scholars are unanimous on the point that it is not a pre-condition. Al-Kasani, the famous Hanafi jurist, writes:
According to our Hanafi School, it is not a condition for the validity of musharakah that the amount of capital is known, while it is a condition according to Imam Shafi’i. Our argument is that jahalah (uncertainty) in itself does not render a contract invalid, unless it leads to disputes. And the uncertainty in the capital at the time of musharakah does not lead to disputes, because it is generally known when the commodities are purchased for the musharakah, therefore it does not lead to uncertainty in the profit at the time of distribution.
It is, therefore, clear from the above that even if the amount of the capital is not known at the time of musharakah, the contract is valid. The only condition is that it should not lead to the uncertainty in the profit at the time of distribution. Distribution of profit on daily product basis fulfils this condition.
It is true that the concept of a running musharakah where the partners at times draw some amounts and at other times inject new money and the profits are calculated on daily products basis is not found in the classical books of Islamic Fiqh. But merely this fact cannot render a new arrangement invalid in Shariah, so far as it does not violate any basic principle of musharakah. In the proposed system, all the partners are treated at par. The profit of each partner is calculated on the basis of the period for which his money remained in the joint pool. There is no doubt in the fact that the aggregate profits accrued to the pool are generated by the joint utilization of different amounts contributed by the participants at different times. Therefore, if all of them agree with mutual consent to distribute the profits on daily products basis, there is no injunction of Shariah which makes it impermissible; rather, it is covered under the general guideline given by the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in his famous hadith quoted in this book more than once:
All the conditions agreed upon by the Muslims are upheld, except a condition which allows what is prohibited or prohibits what is lawful.
If distribution on daily products basis is not accepted, it will mean that no partner can draw any amount from, nor can he inject new amounts to the joint pool. Similarly, nobody will be able to subscribe to the joint pool except at the particular dates of the commencement of a new term. This arrangement is totally impracticable on the deposits side of the banks and financial institutions where the accounts are debited and credited by the depositors many times a day. The rejection of the concept of the daily products will compel them to wait for months before they deposit their surplus money in a profitable account. This will hinder the utilization of savings for development of industry and trade, and will keep the wheel of financial activities jammed for long periods. There is no other solution for this problem except to apply the method of daily products for the calculation of profits, and since there is no specific injunction of Shariah against it, there is no reason why this method should not be adopted.
Source: Republished with the kind permission of Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani.