Introducing Patrick Sookdheo
In this and the next post I am featuring Patrick Sookdheo, Director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity as well as of Barnabas Fund, both located in London. His recent book, Understanding Sharia Finance, is a must read for Christians, but not merely a read; it also needs challenging along the way, something I engage in as I proceed with this blog.
Muslim Controversy re Riba
According to Sookhdeo and some Muslim writers he quotes, sharia banking is a new phenomenon not even required by sharia. He provides an example of lending at interest from the early Muslim period and shows that it was widely practiced throughout the centuries. It was during the Middle Ages that “Islamic literature began to emphasize extreme asceticism,” a process that seems parallel to simultaneous Christian developments. See Post 36 about this. This movement led to increasing opposition to high interest especially. Actually, though practised all along the way, lending money at interest was never without challengers, it was always the subject of controversy, and often carried out under disguise. It was usury that was strongly condemned, i.e. high interest over fifteen per cent. After demonstrating conclusively that the taking of interest had become very common practice during the 19th century, Sookhdeo concludes that the declaration of Egypt’s al-Azhar (see Post 36) was simply in keeping with main street practice over the centuries.
Muslim Influence on Western Banking
I find it very interesting that, according to Sookhdeo, it appears that medieval Islam established a practice that became one of the foundations of Western banking, namely the use of cheques for money transfers. Others have made parallel claims for early sharia influence on the development of Western law and for Muslim contributions to Western science. So, we have here another indication of a significant early Muslim contribution to the foundations of the modern West—and another indication that Islamic institutions and developments deserve more than contempt from Christians.
Muslim Banking and Islamism
Sookhdeo regards Islamic banking “as part of the Islamist agenda to subvert and subjugate Western systems under the rule of Islam” and has plenty of justification for this position. Quoting liberally from Muslim authorities throughout his book, he “reveals the connections between Islamic finance and radical Islamic groups” as well as highly placed individuals. This notion is repeated frequently throughout the book and could be said to constitute its main theme. Islamic banking “offers terrorist jihadi groups a discreet way in which to raise and move …large amounts of money….” He goes out of his way to trace the connections between Islamic banking and the global Islamist movement—and these are many and substantial. His is not an exercise in generalities: He provides dates, names of persons, organizations and conferences and every possible kind of concrete facts to support his assertions. The main goals of Islamic economics are political and religious, not financial, namely to gain support for radical Islam and to promote Muslim separatism. After all is said and done, Islamic banking is an economic tool to implement a new sharia world order. It is part of the Muslim jihad to take over the world.
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