Halal Binary Options – Islamic Trading and Brokers

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Halal Binary Options and Islamic Trading Accounts

Is Binary Options Halal and compatible with Islamic traditions? This has become an important question for prospective Muslim options traders as the financial industry has become available to everyone through online trading accounts. Here we look at the implications of Sharia Law on binary options trading and whether it is “Halal” or “Haram”. The development of online trading in the financial industry in the last two decades has opened up new horizons for retail traders of all races and creed. With one quarter of the world’s population being Muslim, it is inevitable that more and more Muslim traders will join the online Islamic binary options trading scene. In Islamic economic jurisprudence or Shariah law, charging “Riba” or interest is forbidden and is considered as a major sin. Many brokers in sensing an opportunity that will benefit them as well as their Muslim traders came up with the idea of “Halal”, or Islamic, trading accounts.

Halal Binary Options Brokers

These brokers are marketing specific account types they operate as Halal and compatible with Islamic tradition and Sharia Law.

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Is Binary Options Halal or Haram?

The life of a Muslim is guided by Sharia Law. Sharia is actually an old Arabic word meaning “pathway to be followed“. A Muslim is expected to abide by the Islamic principles covering all aspects of their life from social matters to economic matters that were expounded in the holy Koran. In the area of banking and investments, Sharia law strictly forbid the lending of money with interest. Investments in the Muslim world are instead governed by the concept of “risk sharing” through principles such as Bai’ al ‘inah (sale and buy-back agreement), Bai’ bithaman ajil (deferred payment sale), Bai’ muajjal (credit sale), Bai salam, Mudarabah (Profit Sharing), Murabahah and Musawamah.

When Sharia law is applied to Binary options trading, this means interest that is earned or charged for an overnight position is prohibited as well. In the spot financial markets, trading is done on a 24 hours basis. By 5 pm New York time, all open market positions are then rolled over to the next 24 hours cycle. Daily interest is then added to the broker’s account. Regardless of whether the binary broker debits or credits their clients’ accounts with the interest like forex brokers, the fact that interest is earned or payable during a trading transaction makes the trade “haram” to Muslim. This situation puts Muslim traders on a collision course with their religious beliefs.

Islamic Trading Accounts

In order to overcome this dilemma, some innovative binary options brokers have come up with the idea of an Islamic trading account or “Swap Free” account that eliminates Riba of any form during trading. For example, instead of having an open market position rolled over automatically making overnight interest payable, open positions in Islamic trading accounts are closed by 5 pm New York time and then reopen immediately hence avoiding any interest payable for the fresh 24 hour cycle.

For a broker to be able to claim that they offer trading accounts based on Islamic principle, these accounts must satisfy at least the following conditions:

  • Immediate execution of trades
  • Immediate settlement of transactional cost
  • No interest payable on trades

To help traders in their selection of brokers that offer Islamic trading accounts, we have compiled a list of leading binary brokers that offer Islamic trading accounts. It should be noted that the list above is by no means exhaustive but is just a guide.

Other considerations

If someone used a Halal binary options account, but had little or no knowledge of what or how to trade, then they would be using binary options to gamble – and this would certainly be Haram. Only the individual trader can know whether this is the case.

There is also a view that because each contract or trade must have a ‘winner’ and a ‘loser’, this means that binary options cannot be Halal, as it is not possible for all parties to profit, or extract value, from the trade. While some brokers will offer “Islamic” accounts, and take steps to ensure they are run to islamic principles, there will always be some who view the entire concept of binary options as Haram.

Is Binary Options Halal Or Haram?

Currently almost a quarter of the world’s population is Muslim; there is no doubt about the importance of the role that binary options trading can play in the lives of Muslim binary traders. The general consensus seems to be that binary options trading is permissible to Muslim traders. This is largely due to the fact that trading has always been a way of life for Muslims and the religion Islam has always encouraged Muslims to participate in commerce.

So the question we will explore in this article is, “Is binary options halal or is it haram?” These questions concern the legality of binary options based on Islamic Shariah Law.

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Shariah Law, The Muslim’s way of Life

The Arabic word “Shariah” in Islam is used to denote God’s divine law which every Muslim has to follow. It is derived from the main tenets of Islam specifically from the Quran and the wise sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad called the Hadith. Together, Shariah principles dictate the way a Muslim should live his life. They permeate every aspect of a Muslim’s life and regulate the way he should behave in society, in business and with God.

Riba Policy According to Shariah Law

One of the major tenets of Shariah law is the prohibition of “Riba”. Riba is the Arabic term used to describe interest and is considered one of the major sins in Islam. In an Islamic society, it is encouraged that Muslims should practice selflessness and make sacrifices especially towards those who are less fortunate in life. For example, if a poor individual were to approach a wealthy person for a loan, the wealthy individual according to Shariah law is obligated to provide the loan to the poor individual without imposing interest on the loan. This is in direct contrast with conventional societies where the priority is on personal benefit and self-interest. The differences also apply to the Islamic banking system and to the conventional banking system. With Islamic banking, there is no interest involved. Instead Islamic banking transactions are based on 2 types of mutually beneficial arrangements called Mudharabah and Musharakah.

Mudharabah Arrangement

In contrast to conventional banking where you have the applicable charges and interest rate explicably stated, a Mudharabah arrangement does not have any interest involved. Basically the bank enters into a profit sharing partnership with the investor (depositor). Because this is a partnership, the investor will also bear a portion of the losses if the investment is a failure. In essence, it is just like any ordinary partnership deal except that it extends to the relationship between a bank and an investor. In other words, a Mudharabah arrangement allows Muslims to lend out their money in return for a profit just like conventional banks pay out interest to their depositors. The key difference is the Mudharabah arrangement does not have the interest or charges explicitly stated like a normal arrangement. In addition, both parties to the Mudharabah arrangement share the profits and the risk of losses together.

Musharakah Arrangement

The Musharakah arrangement is similar in concept to the Mudharabah arrangement except that the roles are reversed. With the Mudharabah arrangement, the bank which enters into a joint venture with an individual or company is the investor. The profits under this arrangement are divided in accordance to the amount of capital that is contributed. The so-called “interest” earned by the bank is actually the profits from the enterprise or joint venture between the bank and the second party. Once the loan amount has been fully paid up, the Musharakah arrangement will end between the bank and the individual. The Musharakah arrangement is usually adopted when an individual wishes to take out a mortgage to buy a property. With mortgages taken out under the Musharakah arrangement, the buyer enters in an arrangement with the bank to buy the property for a share of the rent paid by the occupier of the property which in this case is also the buyer. Just like a normal loan agreement, the term of the partnership will be clearly defined at the start of the partnership arrangement.

The idea of Islamic banking was only introduced into mainstream banking during the last decade when the UK began to adopt the concept of Islamic accounts. The idea behind Islamic accounts was to enable Muslims to comply with Shariah law while they deal with the conventional financial banking system. Given the fact that the growth rate for Islamic accounts is thrice as fast as traditional bank accounts, many financial services providers have also began to adopt the idea of Islamic accounts to serve their Muslim clientele better.

Binary Options Islamic Trading Account

Given the fact that a substantial number of financial traders are Muslim, Forex and Binary options have also started to offer Islamic trading accounts over the last years. These accounts are tailored specifically for Muslim traders and are interest free. A Muslim trader trading with an Islamic trading account will have access to all the trading assets that other types of trading accounts have with the difference being no interest charged on overnight positions. There is also no additional penalties or charges which Muslim traders have to pay for trading with the Islamic trading accounts. Typically, these Islamic trading accounts are characterized with all features listed below:

  • Ability to trade with all the assets offered by the broker
  • All market positions are closed by 23:59:59
  • Broker operate on “Hiba” policy meaning the broker will “donate” as a charitable gesture to Muslim traders “loaning” the broker’s money to trade
  • No hidden charges
  • No interest charged on overnight positions
  • No swap commission
  • Shariah compliant trading account
  • Transparent

Q: Is binary options trading Halal?

Answer: Many traders are Muslim and therefore brokers have come up with a way to make this kind of trading halal. This means they do not charge interest on any positions held open.

Q: If there is no interest involved what is the structure of the trade?

Answer: Instead Islamic banking transactions are based on 2 types of mutually beneficial arrangements called Mudharabah and Musharakah. With Mudharabah the bank enters into a profit sharing partnership with the trader. As it is a partnership, the investor will also bear a portion of the losses.

With Musharakah the profits under this arrangement are divided in accordance to the amount of capital that is contributed. The so-called “interest” earned by the bank is actually the profits from the enterprise or joint venture between the bank and the second party.

Halal Day Trading and Islamic Accounts in Russia

Is day trading Halal or Haram, and is there such as thing as an Islamic trading account on the financial markets? With one-quarter of the world being Muslim and the development of online trading, the question of where intraday trading fits in with Islamic law is increasingly being asked. This page will consider numerous viewpoints and sources in order to answer whether day trading is halal or haram. It will break down forex, stocks and binary options in particular, and try to offer guidance on how to stay Halal.

Islamic Trading Accounts in Russia

Is Day Trading Halal?

Islamic principles govern many aspects of a Muslim’s life, from social to economic matters. All of which are outlined in the Koran and by Sharia Law, which quite literally means ‘pathway to be followed.’ When it comes to day trading though, black and white lines can quickly become grey.

One of the biggest concerns centres around the risk sharing element. An element which is regulated through principles such as Bai’ al ‘inah (sale and buy-back agreement), Bai salam, Mudarabah (profit sharing), Bai’ muajjal (credit sale), Bai’ bithaman ajil (deferred payment sale), Murabahah and Musawamah.

So, in the case of forex, stocks, binary options, futures, commodities, and currency, is investing haram or halal?

Please note that this site is not a religious authority on the subject of Islamic day trading. If you want to be certain that your trading activities are Halal, we recommend that you consult with a religious authority that can consider your individual situation.

Is Buying Shares Halal?

It is generally accepted that buying stocks is not haram. This is because you are simply owning a percentage in a business. However, you do need to be sure the company in question is not dealing in a un-Islamic manner. Companies like Guinness (alcohol) and Ladbrokes (gambling), for example, would not be allowed.

You can break down companies form an Islamic perspective into three categories:

  1. Shares from permissible practices – Shipping, manufacturing, clothing, medical equipment, real estate, tools, furniture, supplies and so on are all free from haram practices or transactions, such as cheating and borrowing on the basis of riba (unjustified lending). These companies are also known as ‘clean’ companies.
  2. Shares based on prohibited practices – Any company that deals in tourism, alcohol, hotels, nightclubs, pornographic materials, riba-based banks, commercial insurance companies, etc, is not permissible. In these circumstances the stock market is haram.
  3. Shares based on partly haram practices – Whilst the majority of the work may be permissible, some practices are haram. Transportation companies, for example, hold interest based-bank accounts and are often financed by riba-based loans, or individuals through stocks. These types of companies are known as ‘mixed’ companies.

So, what do you do if the company deals in goods and services that do not agree with Islamic law?

You do not invest. If you want to avoid any potential conflict the easiest decision is to avoid buying and selling shares in the stock at all. Having said that, there remains some wriggle room. In some cases, you may still be able to trade and remain halal.

Small Percentage

Most Scholars are in agreement that if the company only deals in a fraction of un-Islamic goods and services then you may still invest. It is suggested that you simply give away the percentage of the profits that are created by the haram section of the business. So, if 10% of the company’s profits stem from alcohol, you’d donate 10% of your profits to a charity.

Interest

The other major area of concern centres around interest. You shouldn’t be trading in interest, so ideally you’d exchange £25 for precisely £25. However, that may not always be feasible. As the stock price varies you inevitably end up paying more or less than face value for the debt/cash.

For example, if the company has just £2000 in cash and that makes up the majority of its value, and the stocks trade at £75,000 in total, you’re paying more than the face value.

Solution

Fortunately, it is relatively straightforward to stick with just halal shares. Most scholars agree you simply need to avoid companies where a considerable amount of their stock value is tied to large piles of debt/cash. Instead, opt for companies where the value is derived from their broader business.

You can actually find Islamic stock screeners that will identify halal stocks for you. However, such software is relatively expensive. Alternatively, most platforms allow you go get a screenshot of the company, highlighting their debt levels and market capitalisation.

For the most part, common sense is your greatest weapon. Avoid heavily leveraged companies that are concerned with the buying and selling of haram goods and services. So, in summary, whether stock trading is halal or haram, entirely depends on the companies you opt for and how much profit you retain.

Is Currency Trading Halal?

Forex trading is increasingly accessible and the potential for quick money draws more traders in every day. On the surface, this looks like one of the halal investment opportunities as you’re simply buying and selling money. However, dig a little deeper and you might wonder is forex trading actually haram?

If you were to buy £4,000 for $2,5000 and sell it six months later when the pound appreciates against the dollar, then this is a halal transaction. But in reality there remain several issues.

Leverage

To make substantial intraday profits from tiny price movements you need to invest large sums of money, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds. So, to alleviate this problem forex brokers offer you leverage. In effect allowing you to invest £50 or £75 for every £1 you put up. You can now take much larger positions and increase your profit.

However, this is in effect a loan. In Islam, it is permissible to borrow from someone for the purposes of investing to make a profit and then return that loan interest-free to the creditor.

However, with forex brokers, they are lending you the money for the sole purpose of taking a commission. Effectively they will make a return on every trade. Many scholars consider this a form of interest, making trading forex haram.

Solution

Fortunately, Islamic forex brokers have responded by providing day traders with an alternative. You can now get forex accounts which won’t charge you standard interest payments. To remain profitable they instead charge increased commissions in spot forex trades.

Whilst some suggest this is simply a disguised interest component, many scholars are content with this new method of facilitating trades. Any ‘regular’ spot forex trading offered by brokers with no overnight charges could well clear the riba obstacle.

Hand To Hand Exchange

With the interest element out the way, the next issue relates to the exchange itself. Trading is permissible ‘so long as it (exchanges) is hand to hand’. This shows the prophet Mohammed obviously had in mind commodities would be exchanged between two parties, as a natural part of commerce.

In the past, most deals would have been done face to face, but with the evolution of e-commerce what constitutes ‘hand to hand’?

Solution

Many argue the deal is made between the broker and trader, which would qualify under the definition of two different parties, and therefore halal.

Scholars have gone further to say the actual exchange must take place in the same ‘sitting’, when the contract is made. So, trades must be entered and exited almost immediately, which with forex traders they usually are. This could perhaps mean though that non-market trades such as stop and limit orders are in fact haram.

Ownership

Another part of the answer to ‘is forex trading legal in Islam?’ centres around ownership. You are merely speculating whether the value of the currency will increase or decrease, so is this halal?

This is difficult to answer definitively and it may be something you want to seek specific religious advice on.

Solution

Many are in agreement with several factors surrounding forex that may answer the question. Islam recognises the need for humans to want to improve their lives, including their financial situation. We all must consider implications when confronted with choices and use intelligence to respond in such situations.

So, whilst we know gambling is strictly haram, you can find halal forex brokers who have made every effort to keep any activities strictly within the confines of Islamic law.

Is Trading Binary Options Halal?

Unlike other forms of trading, binary options offer more straightforward trades then a lot of other instruments, such as stocks and forex. The option will either pay out a fixed amount of compensation if the option expires in the money, or it will pay out nothing if the option expires out of the money.

If the trader has little knowledge of what and how to trade, then to trade binaries would be a form of gambling, and not halal.

On top of that, because each contract must have a winner and loser, this is arguably not halal. For not every party can profit or extract value from the trade. So, it’s worth noting that many consider binary options fundamentally haram.

Solution

Having said that, there is also a growing school of thought that only the individual trader can know whether trading binaries is halal or not. If you understand the complexities of the trade then perhaps you are not gambling. So, despite numerous brokers offering ‘Islamic’ accounts, only you can truly know whether you are acting within Islamic parameters when you trade binaries.

Islamic Trading Accounts

It is clear that halal online trading will depend partly on your actions and partly on the broker you opt for. Whatever your online Islamic investment, be it stocks, forex, or options, for a broker to claim they offer accounts based on Islamic principles, they need to meet the following criteria:

  • Immediate execution of trades – Cutting out the delay helps satisfy the rule of prompt hand to hand exchanges between two parties.
  • Immediate settlement of transaction costs – Be wary of accounts where open trades are automatically rolled over to the next trading day, as they may incur interest charges for the rollover.
  • Zero interest rates on trades – To avoid breaking rules around riba, there must be no interest. Any interest will deem the contract invalid and not halal.

Final Word

There will always be a divide in opinion as to whether day trading is halal or haram. It must also be noted that despite in-depth research into numerous sources, this page is not trying to offer readers religious advice. Instead, it looks to collate viewpoints and present them in an easy-to-digest format.

Whilst there certainly remains a substantial number of people who conclude Islamic day trading is halal, perhaps the best steps you can take are to choose your broker carefully and evaluate your trade decisions with the parameters of halal in mind.

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