Dr. Monzer Kahf
Professor, Faculty of Sharīʿah, Department of Banking and Economics
Irbid National University, Jordan
Research presented to the International Islamic Fiqh Academy at its 16th Session, held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates from 30 Ṣafar to 5 Rabīʿ al-Awwal, 1426H (9-14 April, 2005 CE)
Majallat Majmaʿ al-Fiqh al-Islāmī, Session 16, vol. 3, pp. 11-42
باسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
INTRODUCTION AND DEFINITIONS
All praise is for Allah, the Lord of the Universe. Peace and blessings of Allah be upon Muhammad, the master of the prophets and messengers, and upon all of his family and companions.
In this research, the term kafālah tijāriyyah (commercial sponsorship) means an agreement, written or spoken, between two persons on the condition that one of them must comply with particular procedures and commitments vis-a-vis the government or any other official authority. This facilitates the interests of the other person by allowing them to work or initiate a commercial or investment project in the country of the first person.
Commercial sponsorship according to this understanding began because of legal and political decrees and regulations which some countries chose [to enact] prohibiting non-citizens from pursuing employment or participating in commercial projects or investment opportunities in the country.
There are two other scenarios that are similar to commercial sponsorship, but both occur within a country between its citizens. They are:
According to the aforementioned definition, commercial sponsorship does not include a number of scenarios that may seem similar in some people’s minds. It does not include a merchant guaranteeing another merchant vis-a-vis the latter’s creditor. It also does not include what some traders call “iʿārat al-tawqīʿ” (signature lending) in which a merchant signs a promissory note to another merchant that is due after six months, for instance. It is as if the issuer is indebted to the payee for that amount; then the debtor takes it and cashes it at a conventional bank to get cash on the spot (except for the amount taken by the bank as interest due to the time difference). Then the merchant who facilitated the credit pays the amount of the promissory note to the bank upon its maturity.
In addition, commercial sponsorship does not include the sponsorship that a person offers to a country’s embassy on behalf of an individual who wants to obtain an entrance visa to that country. The person guarantees that the other individual will not be a financial burden on the country he intends to visit and that the guarantor will, if necessary, bear all financial costs that may arise from the other individual’s visit to that country.
In addition, it does not include the sponsorship offered by an individual to a particular country or to an agency or ministry of that country as the guarantor of another person upon whom the country is planning to spend a large amount of money. For example, guaranteeing that a person sent abroad to study at the government’s expense will come back to work for the country within a specified period.
Lastly, it does not include the guarantee offered to a judicial authority to produce a wanted person before that authority at a fixed time.
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