Is Student Finance Haram? An In-Depth Exploration

The question “Is student finance haram?” has recently received much attention. This question is quite relevant for Muslim students living in countries where higher education must be paid through the loan. 

Here, the point lies in the prohibition of riba, or any interest in Islamic law. Most student loans currently have some interest rate. Thus, the task of this text is to consider this question from all possible sides and provide the reader with thoughts on the topic.

Basics Of Islamic Finance

Islamic finance,” as the name implies, is the process of engaging in financial activities and banking consistent with Muslim law, sharia. Sharia law puts a premium on equity, fairness, and morality in financial transactions and outlaws interest, called riba, too much uncertainty, known as gharar, and doing business with haram businesses, or companies producing or distributing beer, gambling, and pork. There are the principles and instruments of Islamic finance:

Key Principles

  • Avoiding Interest (Riba): Islamic finance mandates a strict no-interest policy on loans and borrowings, emphasizing fairness and justice in the financial sphere.
  • Embracing Risk Sharing: It’s all about sharing the risks and rewards in financial dealings, ensuring the returns are directly linked to the performance of the financed asset.
  • Insisting on Asset-Backed Financing: Every transaction must have a solid foundation in tangible assets, using money solely as a means for exchange, not as an asset.
  • Steering Clear of Uncertainty (Gharar): Financial agreements must be transparent and free from excessive uncertainty, with all details crystal clear.
  • Shunning Investments in Haram Activities: Investments that conflict with Islamic teachings, like those in alcohol, gambling, pork, etc., are strictly off-limits.

Key Instruments

  • Mudarabah: An Islamic financial instrument based on profit-sharing. One party provides the capital, while another demonstrates the expertise and management. Profits are shared per a specific ratio, and the provider’s capital bears the entire loss.
  • Musharakah: Also an Islamic financial instrument, this joint venture involves two or more partners providing capital. The percentage of profit or loss shared is by the contributed capital.
  • Murabaha: This Islamic transaction involves calculating cost and profit. It is used to finance assets, real estate, and commodities.
  • Ijara: A leasing contract where the bank leases and buys the assets and charges. The lease payments are not considered as interest.
  • Sukuk: Referred to as Islamic bonds, these are Islamic financial certificates. The certificates do not earn interest but rather benefit from the performance of the funded project.
  • Takaful is an Islamic insurance where the profit and loss are shared. According to Islamic law, every member pays into and shares the profit and loss.

Islamic finance has emerged as a significant part of the global financial practice. Islamic finance is a distinctive and separate way of providing financial services from the Western model. It is based on the principles of social justice risk-sharing and ethical considerations.

Arguments Against Student Finance

Is student finance haram? Some scholars argue against student finance or loans. First, as Student Finance contains riba, it is describing the loans as haram. “Some of the alternatives that could also be suggested by scholars who argue about the loans’ permissibility state that “there could be alternatives such as saving before university, bequeathing money or scholarships, before taking on such an interest related loan.” Secondly, according to Abdul-Rahman, a debt grant creates a financial burden on the acquirer, and following zakat requires a little financial planning along with charity. 

Arguments for Permissible Student Finance

On the contrary, other scholars including the Islamic Institute of Education and Research indicate that it is allowed to finance Student Finance. Indeed, according to necessity, “no one can dispute the fundamental importance of education in Islam, and it is difficult to see how accumulation funds upfront in today’s economic environment. “They are arguing that Student loans could also be interpreted as a form of deferred,” while Student loans or investment or partnership on education, where in both sides the borrower should receive profit.”

Finding a Middle Ground

Is student finance haram? Given the ambiguity of the relationship between student finance and riba, various interpretations may be found across Islamic scholarship. The following are some of the policies that offer a compromise between education and Islamic law:

  • Islamic student finance: Islamic banks offer Sharia-compliant loans that are free of riba elements. This implies that Islam has its banks of finance. Islamic financial products allow the student to share the income through a mudarabah and musharakah arrangement with the lender to share the income.
  • Minimize the burden: Students may be guided to look for grants, loans, and part-time jobs to avoid the reliance on conventional student debt.

Alternatives to Conventional Student Loans

  • Introduction to Islamic Financing Alternatives for Education: Highlighting the need for alternatives in the face of concerns about whether student finance is considered haram in Islam. Several Islamic financial institutions have taken steps to offer solutions that adhere to Islamic principles, ensuring no interest is involved.
  • Qard Hasan Loans – A Generous No-Profit Approach: Explaining benevolent loans provided without profit, where the borrower repays only the principal amount. These loans, although rare, are praised within Islamic finance for their strict adherence to Shariah principles.
  • Profit-and-Loss Sharing Schemes—Aligning Returns with Success: Discuss how financiers fund a student’s education in return for a share in the student’s future earnings. This arrangement aligns with Islamic principles by avoiding fixed interest rates and linking returns to the student’s success.
  • Leveraging Scholarships and Waqf Funds for Education: Detailing how scholarships from Islamic organizations and funds from waqf (Islamic charitable endowments) offer viable routes for students to finance their education without violating Islamic principles.


In general, the question of whether a student’s finance is haram is ambiguous, since everything depends on the credit financial instrument itself, the interest rate, and the need to use student finance. Islamic scholars do not give a clear answer to this question. 

Thus, while some types of student finance could be considered permissible in some cases, others can be seen as a violation of Islamic rules due to the presence of riba . In essence, people wondering “Is student finance haram” should consult authoritative Islamic scholars on the matter and look for financial instruments that are less likely to violate the Sharia. This way, they will be able to reconcile their educational goals with their religion.

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