Monday, September 12, 2011

Islamic Banking (6) Further Sookhdeo Claims and Assertions

Post 36--:  I   

Wonderful Summer Weather
It’s been and still is a wonderful summer here on Canada’s West Coast, though it was unusually slow in starting.  I have loved it and spent a fair amount of time—weeks in fact—away from my desk and, hence, away from this blog.  Visiting our kids and families in WA and near SF in CA with days of RV-“camping” in between.  Since then, “backyard” RVing in southern BC—with more to come.  If you like a moderate climate without extremes of heat and cold, then BC’s south-west coast and much of Vancouver Island is the place to be. So a bit of a lull, but one you can understand, I believe.  But, while it’s still great summer stuff in the middle of September, here I am, once again slogging/blogging it out.  Welcome to Fall. 

Back to Sookhdeo
Back to Sookhdeo’s claims and assertions re Islamic banking.  They are interesting and challenging.  He worked them out very carefully, which is not saying I support all he writes:
Connection to an Islamist Agenda
§                 Islamic banking is part of the Islamist agenda, to gain support for radical Islam and terrorism and to promote Muslim separatism and even world domination.  Sookhdeo’s list of prominent members of sharia banking boards in the UK are mostly  members of Islamist organizations either with direct terrorist connections or with terrorist offspring. Among the groups he lists is Pakistan’s Jama’at-I-Islami. That should sound familiar to all Nigerians. Would the similarity with their own Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI) be purely accidental?  

Moderate Connections?

§                 In the West, these financial institutions “appear outwardly moderate, while secretly pushing for radical goals.” “Although the larger movements [in the UK] claim they are committed to legal methods to attain their goals, their ideology has spawned many radical groups and terrorist organizations” (p. 41).

Inverted Tradition

§                 It is an “invented tradition.”  Such rigid views about interest and profit were not the norm in earlier centuries (pp. 9-10).

Based on Legal Tricks

§                 The system is based on “legal tricks, the interest simply being hidden and relabeled. It has been described as “deception” (pp. 23, 25, 32, 37-38).

Lacking Accountability and Transparency

§                 The system lacks normal and proper accountability and transparency protocols and is not subject to a “robust regulatory framework.”  It can more easily conceal its activities than can Western-type banks. Corruption is a serious problem (pp. 42-47, 51, 63).  

Violates Spirit of Sharia

§                 It “violates the spirit of sharia and may facilitate the activities of criminal financial actors,” including money laundering (pp. 23, 42-43).

Creates Muslim Captive Market

§                 It is a tool to create a “captive market” of Muslims who will deal only with Islamic banks, separates Muslims from the economic main stream and exploits them. Even the British involvement is aimed more at attracting huge amounts of petrodollars than in meeting the demands and needs of the British Muslim community. The latter is “used simply as a pious cover” (pp. 25-27, 79).

Fails to Relief Poverty

§                 Islamic economics, including banking, have “dismally failed in relieving poverty” in Muslim countries (pp. 25, 55).

Not Based on Muslim Concensus

§                 Western bankers and other authorities falsely assume that Islamic banking represents the consensus of the entire Muslim community. In fact, most Arab governments “were at first hostile or ambivalent….” Even today Libya and Morocco refuse them licenses, while some other North African governments “are extremely cautious in their approach….” These negative reactions are due to the perceived links of the system to Islamism.  Oman does not allow Islamic banks “because it believed banks should be universal, not specific.” 75 per cent of British Muslims are said to be “indifferent to sharia finance and that there was no automatic demand for it.” 83 per cent “questioned the necessity” of it.  50 per cent wondered how Islamic these institutions really are (pp. 38-39, 61, 69, 78-79).  

Confusion Caused by Different Traditions and Interpretations

§                 Different sharia traditions and interpretations by various scholars cause confusion (pp. 45, 50-51). 

Shortage of Experts Leads to Extortion

§                 The entire system is dependent on sharia experts in Islamic finance. There is a great shortage of these so that a small body of experts are found on many boards across the world. Some up to 30!  They charge up to $10,000 per hour! (pp. 49-50)

NOTE:  The pagination in the above paragraphs refer to pages in Sookhdeo’s Understanding Sharia Finance.  You can find these summaries in my series Studies in Christian-Muslim Relations, vol. 8, chapter 9).

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