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In the Name of God بسم الله

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  • Advanced Member

Assalamu alaykum everyone. I hope you are all in the best of health insha'Allah. I'm in a dilemma. Despite the obvious stress of going to university this September during a global pandemic there's another problem. I come from a low economic background and the idea of me being able to pay tuition (£9000+ annually) is unrealistic let alone having to pay for university equipment i.e a laptop (especially since university is going to be online for half the year if not more). In a normal situation someone would take student loans and a maintenance loan. However, both of these include interest being added each year (not in my benefit but to them when I pay the university back). I know that interest and riba is a great sin which is why I'm asking for everyone's advice/help. I've tried applying for Muslim loans and charities however they either to be too little to match my cost or are bias in what degree you must take to be eligible.

For context I'm looking to study Middle Eastern Studies combined with Arabic at a prestigious university. This in mind, I wanted to make a big impact insha'Allah through this degree. I've been told that it doesn't matter therefore that there is interest added as I am insha'Allah going to be able to give back to the community. However, I also realise that I can acquire such knowledge without going to university and I don't care too much about the experience.

Additionally, I am much more interested in going to howza in the future (maybe in Iran) when I become independent in the future insha'Allah as I am very much interested in Islamic studies/theology.

With all this said:

1) What was your own experience with university?

2) How to tell one's parent?

Jazak'Allah brothers and sisters.

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1 hour ago, Mariam17 said:

Assalamu alaykum everyone. I hope you are all in the best of health insha'Allah. I'm in a dilemma. Despite the obvious stress of going to university this September during a global pandemic there's another problem. I come from a low economic background and the idea of me being able to pay tuition (£9000+ annually) is unrealistic let alone having to pay for university equipment i.e a laptop (especially since university is going to be online for half the year if not more). In a normal situation someone would take student loans and a maintenance loan. However, both of these include interest being added each year (not in my benefit but to them when I pay the university back). I know that interest and riba is a great sin which is why I'm asking for everyone's advice/help. I've tried applying for Muslim loans and charities however they either to be too little to match my cost or are bias in what degree you must take to be eligible.

For better or worse, Shia scholars tend to be more flexible when it comes to taking loans from non-Muslims than Sunni scholars, even when interest is allowed, although you need to be a bit careful about the intention you are using, as explained in the fatwa below.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of these artificial work-arounds (if something is haram, then I don't really believe a fake intention can make it halal). However, realistically speaking, it's unfortunately almost impossible to live in the West without getting involved in some form of interest unless you are rich, so in practice I make the decision to swallow my distaste for it.

Quote

Question: Can I take an urgent loan from a non-Muslim bank, even if I know that the bank will charge interest?
Answer: If a Muslim intends to get a loan from such banks, it is necessary that he should do so with the intention that it is a transaction without return, even if he knows that he will end up paying the capital as well as the interest. And he should not do so with the intention of getting the loan with the condition of [paying] interest.

https://www.sistani.org/english/qa/01220/

Quote

Question: Banks in the West give loans —known as mortgage— to those who do not have enough money to buy houses; this is to be paid back in [weekly or monthly] instalments with a high rate of interest. Is a Muslim allowed to use this facility? If it is not permissible, is there a solution in your view for someone who claims that he needs the mortgage to buy his own residential house and does not possess enough money to pay for it?
Answer: It is permissible to take the money from the bank that is financed by non-Muslim government or private funds but not with the intention of loan. The knowledge that the bank will sooner or later force him to pay the capital as well as the interest does not affect [the lawfulness of] his taking the money.

https://www.sistani.org/english/qa/01239/

1 hour ago, Mariam17 said:

For context I'm looking to study Middle Eastern Studies combined with Arabic at a prestigious university. This in mind, I wanted to make a big impact insha'Allah through this degree. I've been told that it doesn't matter therefore that there is interest added as I am insha'Allah going to be able to give back to the community. However, I also realise that I can acquire such knowledge without going to university and I don't care too much about the experience.

It's true that nowadays you can acquire most things without going to university, but having a degree will open more doors for you. My advice would be to go if possible.

1 hour ago, Mariam17 said:

Additionally, I am much more interested in going to howza in the future (maybe in Iran) when I become independent in the future insha'Allah as I am very much interested in Islamic studies/theology.

Try to ask sisters who have gone to howza, but based on some of the stories I've heard, I'd advise against it. Howza for foreign female students doesn't sound like the best experience in the world, and you probably won't learn as much as you think. You might be better off doing your own research, and trying to get private lessons from someone knowledgeable. At the very least, I wouldn't make this decision before doing some serious research.

1 hour ago, Mariam17 said:

With all this said:

1) What was your own experience with university?

Good alhamdulillah. Used properly, you can learn a lot, and learn a lot about yourself.

1 hour ago, Mariam17 said:

2) How to tell one's parent?

Jazak'Allah brothers and sisters.

What is it you want to tell them?

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  • Advanced Member

@Haydar Husayn Thank you brother for your help and advice.

4 hours ago, Haydar Husayn said:

Question: Banks in the West give loans —known as mortgage— to those who do not have enough money to buy houses; this is to be paid back in [weekly or monthly] instalments with a high rate of interest. Is a Muslim allowed to use this facility? If it is not permissible, is there a solution in your view for someone who claims that he needs the mortgage to buy his own residential house and does not possess enough money to pay for it?
Answer: It is permissible to take the money from the bank that is financed by non-Muslim government or private funds but not with the intention of loan. The knowledge that the bank will sooner or later force him to pay the capital as well as the interest does not affect [the lawfulness of] his taking the money.

What I find confusing with this answer and the previous is that the person is already aware that interest will be inevitable. Therefore, is the advice to take the loan but not have the intention of paying interest, essentially avoiding it. Doesn’t that violate the contract?

4 hours ago, Haydar Husayn said:

What is it you want to tell them?

Essentially this:

4 hours ago, Haydar Husayn said:

Personally, I'm not a big fan of these artificial work-arounds (if something is haram, then I don't really believe a fake intention can make it halal)

I’m scared of compromising my deen, and that university isn’t a race.

4 hours ago, Haydar Husayn said:

Good alhamdulillah. Used properly, you can learn a lot, and learn a lot about yourself.

That is very true. How did you deal with the dilemma of student loans? I know you mentioned:

4 hours ago, Haydar Husayn said:

so in practice I make the decision to swallow my distaste for it.

But like you said before I’m sacred of making loopholes in my deen.

Jazak’Allah brother for your help, sorry if my reply is confusing.

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Posted (edited)

Salaam Sister,

I'm in university right now myself, in a non-Muslim country. I'd like to think that I have looked into this matter very extensively for a laymen.

I haven't read the response above but I found a very clear solution to this problem which you'll be able to apply very comfortably without doubt or stress. 

I'm busy right now but will return in a few hours to write it up. (But to not make it too suspenseful, you'll get to take the non-Muslim loan and go to the uni).

Edited by AStruggler
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  • Veteran Member
Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, Mariam17 said:

@Haydar Husayn Thank you brother for your help and advice.

What I find confusing with this answer and the previous is that the person is already aware that interest will be inevitable. Therefore, is the advice to take the loan but not have the intention of paying interest, essentially avoiding it. Doesn’t that violate the contract?

Yeah, I'm not going to pretend to understand how it works. It seems artificial to me, but I haven't looked at it very deeply. Insha'Allah someone more knowledgeable can explain.

Even though the ruling has been made without this in mind, it might be worth considering that in this specific case, you may actually realistically be able to make the intention that you aren't going to pay the interest, since you will only start repaying the loan once you earn more than a certain amount of money, and even then it will take a long time before you've paid off the loan, let alone the interest. So if your intention is to leave the UK (or stop working at for a salary above the threshold) before you ever get to the stage of paying back the interest (which is potentially decades away), I think you can take the loan in fairly good conscience. 

Quote

Essentially this:

I’m scared of compromising my deen, and that university isn’t a race.

Do your parents want you to go to university, or are they against it if it means taking a student loan?

Quote

That is very true. How did you deal with the dilemma of student loans? I know you mentioned:

When I went to university, the fees were nowhere near what they are now, and taking a loan wasn't necessary. Having said that, if I had to make the choice now, I would take the loan. It's not like you are doing it out of choice. Clearly, if you could take a loan with no interest, you would. And ultimately, scholars who are more knowledgeable in these matters seem to think it's ok, so even if we have a personal dislike for it, there is some jurisprudential 'cover' for the decision, especially in this particular case, as I explained above.

Quote

But like you said before I’m sacred of making loopholes in my deen.

That's understandable, and very commendable, but my view is that to some extent these things are almost forced on you by virtue of living in the West. Unless you don't want to go to university, don't want to own a house, etc.

Edited by Haydar Husayn
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  • Advanced Member
3 hours ago, Haydar Husayn said:

Do your parents want you to go to university, or are they against it if it means taking a student loan?

My mum wants me to go university and doesn’t think the student loans having interest is a big deal. My mum holds the opinion similar to the one above that I’m not really going to pay it anyway

3 hours ago, Haydar Husayn said:

these things are almost forced on you by virtue of living in the West. Unless you don't want to go to university, don't want to own a house, etc.

That is very true... thank you brother I will take your advice and others into much consideration. I’ll probably make an update to this post once it is Aug 13.

Jazak’Allah.

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Posted (edited)

Firstly I think it should be mentioned that riba' is a topic on which there are several views and this has been true even since the earlier periods of Islamic history. There are different opinions on what it actually covers, where and to whom it applies and what it actually means. 

Secondly, the Qur'an has mostly condemned the one who takes usury. In your case you are not taking any interest, rather you are paying it. I know some narrations can be found (not aware of their authenticity or reliability) where the one who pays riba' is also condemned but generally speaking mostly you will see that the taker is being condemned.

Finally I think it's important to understand how usury has historically (and even currently) destroyed people and has been used almost as a form of extortion. Loans have sometimes been doubled or tripled when one couldn't pay back. Loan sharks have exploited the weakness of people and ruined them through excessive conditions. One can of course argue that bank loans can and have had similar effects, although I do think there's a wide gap between the modern day student loan and excessive cases of usury. 

Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) knows best what is permitted and what isnt, and whether the prohibition is on excessive usury or any and all forms of interest on loans. 

Edited by Mahdavist
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@Mariam17 Alright, so I suggest watching the video linked at the bottom of this post. It's a QnA session with Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi, a well-known and a very qualified scholar. They say he's the representative of Ayatollah Sistani in Toronto, Canada. He also has many works published on Al-Islam.org. To read more about him and his credentials, visit https://www.al-islam.org/person/sayyid-muhammad-rizvi . 

In the video description, you will find a list of all the questions asked and the time they were asked. All the questions pertaining to finances, loans, house mortages, OSAP loans (the name of the university student loans in Canada) are asked at the following times: 27:4537:0056:401:08:261:09:451:14:48, 1:22:47 (!), 1:24:59

Watch the video at each of the times above in the order listed^

I'm suggesting to you to watch the video at each of the above timestamps because at each of those times, a finances/loan related question was asked, and so by listening to all the responses to each of the finances related questions, you'll walk away with a holistic understanding on the topic iA (it may not actually be necessary to watch the video at all of the times, but multiple times here are relevant to your situation and I don't remember exactly which ones so I suggest you watch them all, especially the one I bolded).

In the video description, you can click on the timestamp and the video will automatically play from there. Also, I suggest you take notes because it will make a lot more sense that way. I did. 

Now finally, below is the link to the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMEd0Wg3ZGQ

 

 

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9 hours ago, Haydar Husayn said:

Personally, I'm not a big fan of these artificial work-arounds (if something is haram, then I don't really believe a fake intention can make it halal). However, realistically speaking, it's unfortunately almost impossible to live in the West without getting involved in some form of interest unless you are rich, so in practice I make the decision to swallow my distaste for it.

"O you who have faith! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet, and do not speak aloud to him like you shout to one another, lest your works should fail without your being aware" (49:2)

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • Advanced Member

Salam everyone, don’t worry I’ll make this quick since my hand is in a caste :hahaha:. Update: Today was my results day and alhamdulilah I got all A’s. I’ve decided to go university and see my options for a scholarship now since I believe I can with my grades. Regardless I have no intention of paying the interest back and it’s only on the bases of reaching a certain income. We’ll see Insha’Allah. Thank you all.

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  • Advanced Member
5 hours ago, Mariam17 said:

Salam everyone, don’t worry I’ll make this quick since my hand is in a caste :hahaha:. Update: Today was my results day and alhamdulilah I got all A’s. I’ve decided to go university and see my options for a scholarship now since I believe I can with my grades. Regardless I have no intention of paying the interest back and it’s only on the bases of reaching a certain income. We’ll see Insha’Allah. Thank you all.

and certainly check your options for any work study. I did this in graduate school, and they covered my tuition 100%

that combined with a scholarship should cover your costs --I do not recommend loans 

 

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