Thursday, 14 April 2011

Applying Ibn Khaldun's theory on the consequence of PTPTN

Bismillahirohmanirohim (In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate)

From my perspective, there are a few problems on the implementation of PTPTN (tertiary student loan). First, they try to portray themselves as Islamic by posting this hadith on their website: Narrated Abu Huraira : The Prophet salallahualaihiwasalam said, "Whoever takes the money of the people with the intention of repaying it, Allah will repay it on his behalf, and whoever takes it in order to spoil it, then Allah will spoil him." If I am not mistaken (if I am wrong I do apologise) they also have quoted verses from the Qur'an in their letters to 'scare' those who loaned from them so that they would get the repayments back. They (PTPTN) quoted verses like, "Believers! Fulfil (all) obligations. ..." (Surah al mai'dah verse 1) "Believers, why do you not profess that which you do not practise?" (Surah al-saff verse 2) "... And fulfil your covenant, for you will be called to account regarding the covenant." (Surah bani isra'il verse 34) or " And fulfil the covenant which you have made with oaths after having firmly made them, and after having firmly Allah your witness. Surely Allah knows all that you do." (Surah al-nahl verse 91) How often do we get contracts today with the sentence Bismillah?

Islam do not only revolve on these certain verses and the teachings are not one verse doctrine. The Qur'an has many verses and these other verses cannot be neglected as it is part of Islam. Here are some other verses that opposes the conduct of PTPTN. "As for those who devour interest, they behave as the one whom Satan has confounded with his touch. Seized in this state that they say: "Buying and selling is but a kind of interest," even though Allah has made buying and selling lawful, and interest unlawful.". (surah Al-Baqarah verse 275) Even though PTPTN quotes the hadith above, they have avoided this particular verses of the Holy Qur'an by charging interest of 3% and now apparently 1%. They have deceived the people by claiming or portraying themselves as Islamic by quoting the said hadith.

Furthermore, there is another verse which says "But if the debtor is in straitened circumstance, let him have respite until time of ease; and whatever you remit by way of charity is better for you, if only you know." (Surah Al-baqarah verse 280). As soon as completing the studies, student often receive letter from PTPTN stating the amount needed to be repaid without even taking consideration if the student is employed or not. For those who have loaned for years will also be blacklisted from going out of the country until they have repayed their loan. If they plan to travel out of the country, they would then have to pay back ALL of the loan INCLUDING INTERESTS/USURY.

Another verse that should be taken into consideration, "Believers! Do not devour one another's possessions wrongfully; rather, let there be trading by trading by mutual consent; and do not kill yourselves. Surely Allah is ever Compassionate to you." (Surah al-nisa verse 29) The expression "wrongfully" embraces all transactions which are opposed to righteousness and which are neither legally or morally reprehensible. "Mutual consent" means that the exchange should be free of undue pressure, fraud and deception. All this is not my own interpretation of the verse. It is the interpretation of a scholar Maulana Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi. Therefore, a contract with interest is definitely devouring another's possession "wrongfully"!

PTPTN should not portray themselves as Islamic or use hadith because they are only contradicting themselves, preying on students who are lack exposure on business or contractual knowledge.

In the UK, there are student loans. The loan does consist of interest due to no prohibition from their "religion" or due to secularism, they are more considerate on certain things. Having said that, the way the repayments are being 'collected' are determined by certain circumstances. Such as below:
1. After completing studies, repayment of the loan is applicable only AFTER the student is being employed and their annual income has to be above certain amount (ie £15,000 per annum). Therefore, if the student is working part-time or working with an income below the amount, the student IS NOT required to pay anything unless they chose to do so themselves.
2. After 10-15 years, if the loan has not been repaid, the loan will be cancelled off. It means that loaners do not need to repay anything due to not having/getting the appropriate job.

Number 1 is vital and is in line with surah al-baqarah verse 280. Number 2 is not really important to be implemented in the contract from an Islamic point of view because there are possibilities of student having the 'niyah'/intention of not repaying the loan even before signing the loan contract. However, if PTPTN is willingly to implement it (number 2) onto their contract, then there should not be any problem.

With the current situation, PTPTN is not being Islamic in their implementation and it lures students/former students into 'forced labour'. This is because 'loaners' feel the need to get any job just to pay their loan. The job opportunity is not really helping the student to get their ideal job and therefore have no choice but to accept any jobs available to pay the bill. Ibn Khaldun has his own theory on the consequence of forced labour. "If they are obliged to work outside their own field and are used for forced labour unrelated to their (ordinary way/profession/qualification/desire) making a living, they no longer have any profits and are thus deprived of the price of their labour, which is their capital (asset). They suffer, and a good deal of their livelihood is gone, or even all of it. If this occurs repeatedly, all incentive to cultural entreprise is destroyed, and they cease utterly to make an effort. This LEADS TO THE DESTRUCTION AND RUIN OF CIVILISATION."

The point of bringing this matter up is not to say that PTPTN has no rights in claiming back their loans. But in fact, the way they are using Islamic quotes make it sound as if Islam only revolves around the particular Qur'anic verses/Hadith when in actual fact, there are other ways on how PTPTN can do to reclaim their loans back (for instance to not charge any interest etc). So, it is not a great step to use Islamic quotes when they themselves aren't Islamic about the loan contract. If PTPTN drags on with their actions, it does not benefit Malaysia with more intellectuals but in fact creating more intellectuals not working in their field which will have an negative impact on the economy. When there is an impact on the economy, gap between rich and poor will be great, the poor will be enslaved and will then rebel. This is when there are protests, riots and we will see everything start from scratch again.

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