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Moroccan jurist Ahmed Raissouni slammed for calling micro loans «Sharia-compliant»

Moroccan jurist Ahmed Raissouni and his recent «fatwa» on micro loans in Morocco has stirred controversy among Moroccan salafists. They urged the head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars to review his «opinion» on the matter.

Moroccan jurist Ahmed Raissouni. / DR
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The pragmatic position of Moroccan jurist Ahmed Raissouni, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, on a micro loan scheme, implemented by financial institutions and presented to King Mohammed VI earlier in February to help young investors, has stirred controversy among Islamists in the Kingdom.

During the weekend, the former head of the Unity and Reform movement (MUR), said the loans introduced by the «Intilaka» program are «Sharia-compliant». «Obviously, the program is not a commercial nor a lucrative one as banks used to do it. The interest rate is very low and provides a paltry profit for banks and other institutions», Raissouni said in a fatwa he made public. According to him, «this approach is much welcome».

Thus, Raissouni believed that if young people and entrepreneurs «have no other source then they can take out this loan».

Moroccan salafists want Raissouni to «reconsider» his fatwa

However, Raissouni’s «pragmatic fatwa» was not welcomed among salafists in the Kingdom. Hammad Kabbaj, a Salafist who is close to the Justice and Development Party (PJD), criticized the «overlapping» fatwa of the Islamist.

He said he was «surprised» to see the opinion on the interest rate «move from a pure ban» in Islam to a «sharia-compliant» practice for Raissouni. «This interest rate is part of a savage and capitalist system (...) and is imposed on states and societies», Kabbaj argued.

The Islamist, thus, called Raissouni to «reconsider and review» his fatwa, given that «usury, even with an interest rate of 0.5%, remains a prohibited practice».

Meanwhile, Moroccan salafist Hassan Ali Kettani claimed that «the fatwa of Dr. Ahmad Raissouni, may God forgive him, does not go hand in hand with the religious texts nor the reports of Islamic jurists». «Hopefully he is going to reconsider it», he added.

On his Facebook page, Hassan Ali Kettani also shared several opinions of Islamologists, discrediting Raissouni’s recent opinion on loans.

Loans with a «profitable» rate

For his part, Mohamed Talal Lahlou, a professor of Islamic economics who is also close to the PJD, published an article on Howiya Press, responding to those «who have tried to justify taking loans».

He said that a 2% rate is «considered a very normal rate and a profitable one», explaining that the institutions granting these loans seek profit.

To him, «these loans are meant to promote the national economy», while the explanation of its advantages, as presented by Raissouni, is a «sort of normalization of what is prohibited» by Islam, he added.

He denounced the reasoning, which «increases the power of an authoritarian and usury system», having «plunged the world into wars, financial and banking crises».

For the moment, only Mohamed Abdelouahab Rafiki, also known as Abou Hafs, has supported the fatwa of Raissouni. On his Facebook page, he even called it an «advanced stage» emanating from a «conscious voice».

«I was hoping that this opinion would launch a deliberate and objective discussion on modern banking transactions and its relation to the traditional concept of usury, and not only to consider these loans», he added.

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