Islamic Car Finance

by Shazia Hussain

There is a huge array of car financing and leasing options on the market for those who do not want to buy a car outright. For Muslims, the car finance options available can be difficult to navigate, especially if they want finance and leasing options that are not in contravention of Islamic finance options.

Islamic car finance operates to enable people to use their money wisely, spread the actual cost of financing the car whilst ensuring that they do not pay interest on the finance option they have chosen. Drivers can take advantage of car finance deals whilst also adhering to Islamic Sharia rules relating to interest (the payment and receipt of which is prohibited) and speculation.

The halal car finance market is aimed at those people who want Sharia compliant finance options. Essentially, for those people who do not have the cash to buy a car outright, or those who do not want to buy a car paying cash, Islamic finance ensures that people can spread the cost of the car without breaching Sharia rules.

The main Islamic finance principles relating to car finance are:
  1. Riba (Interest) - Islam prohibits the receipt or payment of interest. It is deemed to be haram. In car finance terms, this means that Muslims who want to remain Sharia compliant cannot borrow funds with an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) attached. An APR is an interest rate and is prohibited in Islam.
  2. Simplicity of Contracts: Islamic Sharia principles dictate that transactions should always be honest, transparent and open. This means that if you enter into a contract for leasing a car you should make sure that there is no undue risk, speculation, or gambling involved. The contract should be fair for both parties and be simple to interpret.
It goes without saying that buying a car outright with a cash payment is probably the best option for those wanting to remain strictly Sharia compliant. If you have savings that would cover the purchase of the car you can avoid interest payments and APR. However, not all Muslims have the option of paying cash outright for a car and this is where the market has developed to cater to the needs of those wanting Sharia compliant car finance options.

Islam does not prohibit leasing (ijara). In fact, leasing is permissible and is compatible with Islamic finance principles. Payments for vehicles can be done via leasing contracts with car companies. Sharia does not prohibit car leasing agreements because the heart of the transaction relates to a tangible asset - the car. As long as the leasing contract sets out the terms of the lease, the details of the parties, and the payments it can be structured to be compliant with Islamic finance rules.

Halal car finance is actually straightforward, working on the basis of a loan being agreed between the parties. The buyer and seller in the transaction agree on the value of the car the seller is selling. The seller does not charge an interest rate for payment of the car as they would normally to make money on the finance arrangement. Instead, the seller increases the purchase price of the car to cover the interest payments they would have received. No interest is actually charged by a bank or the seller.

What this means for the buyer is that the deposit will be higher than a deposit they would pay on a non-halal car finance option, but for Muslims this is a halal way of obtaining car finance.
Generally speaking, the traditional car finance options such as hire purchase agreement and personal contracts are always attached to an APR and this makes them non compliant with Sharia rules.
However, below is an example of how Islamic finance options can adapt the traditional car finance options to make them halal.

HP financing means the buyer can spread the cost of the car over fixed monthly payments and the use of a deposit. Below is an example of an Islamic finance HP deal:
Price: £20,000
Contract Term: 12 months
APR: 6%
Total Cost to buyer: £21,200
Using an Islamic finance agreement, the seller/dealer would add the additional £1,200 to the price of the car.The buyer of the car would then pay £21,200 as fixed payments monthly for the contract term.When all the payments have been made, the buyer owns the car outright.

PCP's are a common form of car financing option and act as a loan, with the buyer only paying off the full value of the car at the end of the contract term if they decide to keep the car. If the buyer does not pay off the full value of the car then they do not own the car at the end of the contract. PCPs most often come with interest payments and are therefore not Sharia compliant.
However, there are sometimes some PCP finance deals available for new cars but these can be expensive and the requirements are often stringent.

As PCH agreements are actually long-term hiring agreements they are normally deemed to be Sharia compliant. As you are simply renting the car from the owner or dealer you are simply paying for the use of the car for a specific duration.

Each contract and hire purchase agreement is different. The onus is on the customer to ensure that they have inspected the terms, and service fees of the agreement before they decide whether the option is Sharia compliant. There are various Islamic car finance options on the market these days, so it is always best to explore these options rather than using the traditional bank or dealer car finance options.

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