What is istisna?

October 15, 2023

Understanding Islamic Finance: A Comprehensive Guide to Islamic Finance

In the field of Islamic finance, there are various instruments and concepts that shape the principles of ethical and Shariah-compliant transactions. One such tool is Istisna, which plays an important role in financing contracts. In this article, we will delve into the depths of Istisna, exploring its definition, principles, applications and key considerations.

What is Istisna?

Istisna is an Arabic term that refers to a contract for the manufacture, construction or development of a specific asset or project. It is a forward contract in which the specifications, price and delivery terms of the asset or project are agreed between the parties. The contract is typically entered into between a buyer (also known as the “financier”) and a seller (also known as the “manufacturer” or “contractor”).

The purpose of Istisna is to facilitate the financing of long-term projects or the production of goods by providing funds to the manufacturer. It enables the buyer to acquire a specific asset or project, while the producer secures the necessary funds for its production or development.

Principles of Istisna

There are several key principles that govern Istisna contracts:

  1. Asset specification: Istisna requires a clear and detailed specification of the asset or project to be manufactured. The specification should include all essential details such as size, design, quality and any other relevant features.
  2. Price and Payment: The price of the asset or project is agreed upon at the time of signing the Istisna contract. The payment terms and schedule should also be clearly defined to ensure transparency and fairness for both parties.
  3. Delivery period: The contract must specify a definite delivery timeframe for the completion and delivery of the asset or project. This ensures that both parties are aware of the expected timeline and can plan accordingly.
  4. Quality Assurance: Istisna contracts often include provisions for quality assurance to ensure that the manufactured asset or completed project meets the agreed specifications and standards.
  5. Risk allocation: Risks associated with the manufacturing process, such as delays or defects, are typically allocated between the parties in the Istisna contract. This ensures a fair distribution of risks and responsibilities.

Applications of Istisna

Istisna finds application in various sectors and industries, including construction, manufacturing and infrastructure development. It is often used to finance large projects such as the construction of buildings, bridges, roads and other infrastructure assets. The buyer, often a government or corporate entity, seeks to finance the development of the project through an Istisna contract.

Istisna can also be used in the manufacturing sector, where a buyer seeks to finance the production of specific goods or equipment. The buyer can provide the necessary funds to the manufacturer through an Istisna contract, specifying the desired product and its associated requirements.

Considerations for Istisna contracts

When entering into an Istisna contract, several considerations should be taken into account:

  1. Legal Compliance: Istisna contracts must comply with the principles and guidelines of Shariah law. Consultation with Islamic finance experts or scholars is essential to ensure contract compliance.
  2. Clear Documentation: It is critical to have clear and comprehensive documentation for the Istisna contract, including specifications, price, payment terms and delivery timeframe. This documentation serves as evidence and provides clarity in the event of a dispute.
  3. Dispute Resolution: The contract should outline a mechanism for resolving disputes that may arise during the performance of the Istisna contract. This could include arbitration or alternative dispute resolution methods in accordance with Islamic principles.
  4. Risk Management: Both parties should consider the potential risks associated with the manufacturing or development process. Appropriate risk management measures, such as insurance or contingency plans, can help mitigate these risks.
  5. Expert Advice: Seeking the advice of experienced Islamic finance and legal professionals is highly recommended when entering into Istisna contracts. Their expertise can ensure compliance, minimize risk and optimize the structure of the contract.

In conclusion, Istisna is an important tool in Islamic finance that provides a framework for financing the production and development of specific assets or projects. By adhering to the principles of Istisna and considering the relevant factors, individuals and organizations can engage in Shariah-compliant transactions while contributing to the growth of ethical finance.


What is istisna?

Istisna is a term used in Islamic finance and refers to a contract of sale where a buyer places an order for a specific item to be manufactured or constructed according to their specifications. It is essentially a contract for future delivery of a product that does not yet exist.

How does istisna differ from other types of contracts?

Istisna differs from other types of contracts, such as murabaha (cost-plus financing) or ijara (leasing), because it involves the creation or construction of a new asset. In istisna, the focus is on the manufacturing or production process, whereas other contracts deal with the sale or use of existing assets.

What are the key parties involved in an istisna contract?

The key parties involved in an istisna contract are:

  • The buyer (also known as the owner) who places the order for the specific item to be manufactured.
  • The manufacturer (also known as the contractor) who undertakes the manufacturing or construction process based on the buyer’s specifications.
  • The Islamic bank or financial institution that facilitates the istisna contract as an intermediary.

How does istisna financing work?

In istisna financing, the buyer approaches an Islamic bank or financial institution and places an order for a specific item to be manufactured. The bank, acting as an intermediary, enters into a contract with the buyer, agreeing to finance the manufacturing process. Once the item is completed, it is delivered to the buyer, who pays the agreed-upon price in installments or in a lump sum.

What are the benefits of istisna financing?

Istisna financing offers several benefits, including:

  • Facilitating the financing of large-scale projects and infrastructure development.
  • Enabling buyers to acquire customized goods or assets tailored to their specific needs.
  • Providing an alternative financing option that complies with Islamic principles and avoids interest-based transactions.
  • Promoting economic development by supporting manufacturing and construction industries.

Are there any risks or challenges associated with istisna contracts?

Like any financial arrangement, istisna contracts have certain risks and challenges. These may include:

  • Delays or complications in the manufacturing process, which can impact project timelines.
  • Quality control issues and disputes over compliance with buyer specifications.
  • Market risks, such as changes in demand or pricing of the manufactured item.
  • Legal and regulatory challenges related to the structuring and enforcement of istisna contracts.