Another type of Islamic Fund may be an ijarah fund. Ijarah means leasing. In this fund the subscription amounts are used to purchase assets like real estate, motor vehicles, or other equipment for the purpose of leasing them out to their ultimate users. The ownership of these assets remains with the Fund and the rentals are charged from the users. These rentals are the source of income for the fund which is distributed pro rated to the subscribers. Each subscriber is given a certificate to evidence his subscription and to ensure his entitlement to the pro rated share in the income. These certificates may be preferably called “sukuk” — a term recognized in the traditional Islamic jurisprudence. Since these sukuk represent the pro rated ownership of their holders in the tangible assets of the fund, and not the liquid amounts or debts, they are fully negotiable and can be sold and purchased in the secondary market. Anyone who purchases these sukuk replaces the sellers in the pro rated ownership of the relevant assets and all the rights and obligations of the original subscriber are passed on to him. The price of these sukuk will be determined on the basis of market forces, and are normally based on their profitability.
However, it should be kept in mind that the contracts of leasing must conform to the principles of Shariah which substantially differ from the terms and conditions used in the agreements of the conventional financial leases. The points of reference are explained in detail in my book “Islamic Finance.” However, some basic principles are summarized here: 1. The leased assets must have some usufruct, and the rental must be charged only from that point of time when the usufruct is handed over to the lessee.
2. The leased assets must be of a nature that their halal (permissible) use is possible.
3. The lessor must undertake all the responsibilities consequent to the ownership of the assets.
4. The rental must be fixed and known to the parties right at the beginning of the contract. In this type of the fund the management should act as an agent of the subscribers and should be paid a fee for his services. The management fee may be a fixed amount or a proportion of the rentals received. Most of the Muslim jurists are of the view that such a fund cannot be created on the basis of mudarabah, because mudarabah, according to them, is restricted to the sale of commodities and does not extend to the business of services and leases. However, in the Hanbali school, mudarabah can be affected in services and leases also. This view has been preferred by a number of contemporary scholars.