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 in the United States
These brokers are marketing themselves as Halal and compatible with Islamic tradition and Sharia Law.
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.
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.
Please note that this site – binaryoptions.net – can’t take a position on whether binary options are truly Halal or Haram, as we are not a religious authority on the subject. It appears that it might also be dependent on the skills of the individual trader, thus in reality making it impossible for us to give advice on the matter. See the references below for further clarification.
References and Further Reading
- Q&A regarding Halal binary options on islamqa.org
- Q&A regarding call and put options on alqalam.org.uk