What is the ruling of arisan, i.e. regular social gathering whose members contribute to and take turns at winning an aggregate sum of money?
Arisan, defined as numbers of people agreed to collect similar sum of money every month. The total money will be given to each member of the group in turns, until all of the members (ever) get it. This is a form of debt and credit in helping the needy and is a kind of good manner.
Arisan is included in debt and credit transaction because the one who get the money wants to spend the money to afford various needs, and then give it back exactly as the sum he received.
It is not appropriate to categorized arisan in the form of exchanging money for money, because if it is so, what benefits will the money seller acquired after he sold his money without cash -payment, over a year, and when it was returned to him, the amount is exactly as before? It is known that no one would do such thing, thus, arisan is a type of debt and credit, which based on social motives.
Since the aim of arisan is purely social, not to gain any profit, shariah required that every lawful transaction of debt and credit in this framework, must be done to help others, thus none profit will be acquired by the creditor. That is why, some experts of Islam jurisprudence made a principle, “every credit that brings profit is usury”.
This principle was agreed by scholars, whenever the benefit of such credit was only belong to the creditor. But if the benefits could affect both parties, the experts yet held different opinions regarding the verdict of such transaction.
The right stance, based on Maliki scholars, is such profit is prohibited, unless in emergency condition as in suftajah.
Suftajah is, for example, when someone possessed a sum of money in Jakarta, and the money was in the hand of other people. Then, when he went to Jogjakarta, he owed someone money. He then wrote a note, to the one held his money to give certain amount of money to pay the debt, to the person who held that note, when he reached Jakarta. This was an anticipation of criminals on the trip between Jogja and Jakarta.
فقد كان ابن الزبير يأخذ من قوم بمكة دراهم ، ثم يكتب لهم بها إلى مصعب بن الزبير بالعراق ، فيأخذونها منه ، فسئل عن ذلك ابن عباس ، فلم ير به بأسا
Ibn Zubair borrowed money from several people at Mecca. After that, he wrote a letter to Mush’ab Ibn Zubair in Iraq. The debtor of Ibn Zubair then collect the ransom from Mush’ab Ibn Zubair. This occurrence were consulted to Ibn Abbas, and he thought that it contained no law violation.” (Mushannaf Abdurrazzaq, 8:140, and Adz Dzakirah, 5:293)
The more appropriate stance regarding this matter is that Suftajah is permitted, since what so called “profit” in giving credit, is when the benefits simply belong to the creditor.
Based on previous explanation, the ruling of arisan is clearly permitted, since it has characteristic of benefiting both parties, creditors and debtors.
To answer the argumentation of The Maliki, who prohibited any profit in credit although it contains advantages for both sides, unless in emergency situation, we could say that arisan, regarding present condition, is an urgent needs, due to the tiny number of people who are willing to lend their money without extra amount as the returns (usury). Most of the people devastatingly need solutions for their financial problems, and one of it is by owing money to other people. Dealing with such condition, the choice will be between conducting arisan, or borrowing money from bank (which practicing usury).
Thus we can say that the ruling for arisan is permissible, as the ruling of Suftajah. The creditor felt secure during his trip because he didn’t carry a lot of money with him, and the debtor could get some money in regions where he possessed nothing, in need.
The ruling for arisan should not be questioned by arguing that the members didn’t know whether he/she will be the first to get the money or the last, since the uncertainty in settling a debt is allowed. A person may lend his money to another without limiting the time to settle that debt. Because basically, debt and credit is purely social in motive. It differs from postponement of payment in the context of trading. Uncertainty of settlement in such transaction will cause it to be prohibited.
In a book titled Hasyiah Al Qalyubi ‘ala Al Minhaj, a book about jurisprudence based on the method of Syafi’i, there is an explanation of the ruling of arisan and the explicit statement that it is permissible. Arisan mentioned in that book is one called ‘ arisan of women’.
The author of Hasyiah Al-Qalyubi stated that, “The form of arisan which is popular amongst women is, when there is a member of it who collect a similar, certain amount of money from each member, weekly or monthly, and later all of them will in turns have a chance to get the money as the first one. This practice is allowed as stated by Al Wali Al ‘Iraqi.” (Hasyiah Al-Qalyubi, 3:321)
Author: Aris Munandar
Article of syaria.com