Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Post 36--:    
We’re not done with Islamic banking, but events keep getting in the way of completing the series. In my estimation it’s better to flow with current events than to stick dogmatically to a series. You can’t just ignore the end of Ramadan in a blog like this one. I will, of course, get back to the banking issue, probably in the next blog or so, if no other events intervene again.  I can already see that current renewed violence in my former home town, Jos, Nigeria, needs attention. 

Todd on Ramadan Greening
Some of these posts address both Muslims and Christians; some, either one but not primarily both, though both are of course always welcome to sit in.  This one is especially to inform Christian readers of developments within the Muslim community, while my Muslims friends should feel free to read and participate in the discussion.  In fact, at the end of this post they are invited to join Christians in joint ecological efforts.
One new emphasis in Ramadan observance this year is increasing awareness of the need to apply eco-friendly measures to the entire month.  Muslims are not immune to changes taking place around them.  They face the same eco problems the rest of us face.  Douglas Todd of the Vancouver Sun wrote an article entitled “The Greening of Ramadan, the Reducing of Waste” (August 29, 2011),  in which he wrote the following:  “During an era in which humans are growing more concerned about over-using the planet’s resources, more and more Muslims are reframing Ramadan as a time of eco-responsibility, guided by the Muslim principles of moderation and ethical treatment of animals.” Again, “Environmentalism is becoming big in many Muslim circles.”   

The Christian Record

Muslims are undergoing the same eco-transformation that started stirring Christians some decades ago.  Though the Christian Bible contains much that should have led them to environmental concerns much, much earlier, like so many religionists, their vision was shaped more by the culture of which they were a part than by the Bible.  But when the destructive forces the culture unleashed became too severe to ignore any longer, Christians, along with their fellow citizens, became aware of what was/is happening. At that time, their spiritual eyes also opened to the eco messages embedded in Scripture, messages they should have recognized much earlier, and they began to participate in the eco movement, sometimes together with others, sometimes within the church context.  They began to preach and teach eco issues; they published books and magazine articles; they conducted classes in their churches and developed environmental departments in their colleges and universities.  One of my own pastors got her undergraduate degree in ecology.  In short, Christians jumped on the eco bandwagon, eventually with considerable vigour.  So, along with everyone else, they participated in the destruction and now, along with everyone else, they participate in eco-saving movements. It would be interesting to explore why they were so blind before.  Those who know me well from my books or from my other blogs, can probably already guess where I would go with this (see post 44 in my blog < Worldly Christianity.blogspot.com >), but that’s for another post. 

Muslim Eco Developments

Canadian Muslims participate in Canadian life and are influenced by it.  Perhaps more than some people would expect. They, too, are worried about the environment and are beginning to recognize and apply Qur’anic passages that, like Christians, they should have recognized long ago, but were too embedded in their culture to notice. But they’re now coming aboard and applying them to Ramadan observances.  They are beginning to object to “the mountains of styrofoam food containers” that are produced by their “giant communal potluck feasts” at Ramadan celebrations.  Todd gives various examples of how Muslims and their institutions are starting to pay attention and making arrangements for reduced wasteful consumption as well as for reduced mountains of Styrofoam.  They are now creating websites dealing with the issues, many of them, according to Todd. There is < Khalafa: A Sacred Trust > run by Muaz Nazir, a conservation officer with the city of Toronto, and < BeyondHalal > that teaches greater compassion for animals and reduced eating of meat.

Congratulations and Invitation
Now that Muslims have completed another Ramadan celebration, it is fitting for their Christian neighbours to congratulate them for this strenuous achievement and to invite them aboard in joint ecological efforts so that we can all respond together to God’s call for responsible living and stop the spiral of destruction we have together unleashed. 

 Todd, thank you.  Muslims, God bless.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Islamic Banking (5)—Association with Terrorism Continued

Post 35--:     
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. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Islamic Banking (4)

Post 34--: 

Sorry for the interruption on this series, but now we're back on track.  I cannot predict at this point how long we will keep going on this subject.  It's a biggie, though most of us may not yet have experienced any of it personally but have only read about it. But it's coming and it may not be long before you will have Islamic banking as your system of choice.  It may not necessarily be a specifically Muslim bank you are looking at. It could be a main stream bank that has incorporated Islamic accounts or even whole departments in its offerings.  Even with Muslim-controlled banks of this nature, you generally do not have to be Muslim to conduct your banking business with them any more than you have to be a secularist to deal with secular capitalist banking. If you want to know my sources or you want more details, I refer you to my volume 8-2, chapter 9.  You can find that on < lulu.com > under e-books.

I apologize for the strange way in which the text overlaps the left margin.  It has something to do with copying it from that book. It will not budge, try as I may.  That brings with it the difficulty that I cannot edit the material across the border while in the editing mode, for I cannot see it.  If you, my reader, have any advice on correcting this, please offer your help. I am not proud, at least not in this respect.  Even this morning my 11-year old granddaughter Asia Tanis had to advice me on a certain procedure. The first time she served as my advisor was eight years ago. She was three at the time!

Blind Condemnation
There are many Westerners, including Christians, who look at
the proliferation of sharia banking in theWest with ColdWar eyes.
They see an ever-advancing Islamic bulldozer that they fear will
eventually take over the banking and business sector along with the
rest of life. Hence, sometimes without doing any careful analysis as
to its merits and demerits, they simply condemn it and implicitly
put their stamp of approval on the secular banking establishment.
16 The attitude of these Christians is as astounding as the
shamelessness of capitalism’s economic captains and as amazing as
the failure of the US Government to monitor these developments
before they unfolded. Blindly prefer that kind of raw secular system
over a system that puts ethics at the front, ethics, moreover, that
show affinity with Christian thought?

Patrick Wood's Miracle
Patrick Wood, founder of an online magazine, The August
Review, published a long harangue that begins with a Biblical quotation.
Then comes a description of sharia and its banking system,
all in a spirit of the crudest hostility. Then the story about
howWestern banking systems are incorporating sharia into their
operations. And then the clincher: “International bankers have
long ago proven themselves to be completely amoral when it comes
to money. They bankrolled the Bolshevik Revolution in 1918 just
as blithely as they bankrolled Hitler in the 1930’s.” And this
“Christian” prefers that raw amoral system to one that has some
ethical balls?! Without any responsible analysis and comparison? It
really is unbelievable. If I did not believe in “miracles” before,
Wood has just forced me.
Connections with Terrorism?
True, Wood did allege connections between sharia banking,
Wahabi school of Islam and even terrorism. Initially I was instinctively
inclined to doubt that, given his wild kind of presentation
and the merger in process with the Western banking systems.
Surely, I first thought, Western banks would be aware of such connections
and guard against them. Upon second thought, ifWestern
banks supported the Bolsheviks and the Nazis, what would prevent
them from supporting today’s terrorists? If the bottom line is not
ethics or service but money…. Wood totally puzzles me. If he
rejects sharia banking for their connections with terrorism, why
would he support the “amoral”—his own term— Western system
that had similar terrorist connections in the past if not in the present?

Things just don’t add up!