Tuesday, October 25, 2005

(8) Way Foward- Islamic Finance!

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh,
Respected Brothers in Islam,

Glad that the issue at hand has taken priority! Please find time to address issues raised in my initial email at your leisure…

While it may be practical and even necessary for Muslims to engage with and utilize the products and services of conventional banks, this approach must be limited to the short term! As I said in my first email, if Muslims believe this to be the ideal, there will be no hope of anything ‘more Islamic’ being able to build itself up. I believe that the current products/services are the lesser of the two evils but still not the ideal. Muslims should also be told, that while it may be temporarily acceptable to deal with conventional banks, it is definitely not encouraged to unnecessarily do so- it should be the option of last resort, after all other steps have failed..

The most urgent need for the future would be a vibrant and collective educational drive- there needs to be more transparency from all parties as well as open discussion and debate with regards to solutions. Any suggestions? What about monthly platforms where professionals, maulvis and all other interested parties can meet and engage? I will assist in arranging these in Johannesburg after Ramadaan..

Economics is without doubt intertwined with politics- even more reason for a call for Muslims to be more politically active! History has shown that the traditional maulvi stance to politics proved to be disastrous to our community- but some current maulvi’s have admirably discarded that negative rhetoric and we seem to moving to a more positive political future. I have heard the call from many ulama in Johannesburg but things seem to still be very conservative in Natal- or at least that’s what I experienced on campus in the last five years.. However, there is a major shortage of Muslims taking this advice and becoming politically active, opting rather for more financially attractive options! Once again, more discussion around the importance of politics from both on and off the mimbar, will be the best way forward…

While it may be true that community at large does not listen to maulvi’s, I don’t believe that a call for the ulama to stand up and give directives will ever prove successful. I am in no position to advise the ulama about their general future modus operandi, but as a suggestion, maybe a change in approach will have better results.. They need to engage rather than dictate- people need to understand what, why and how; rather than be instructed to follow.. Maybe also more transparency and/or accountability..

To engage with conventional banks can only be a practical short term solution- in the long term, there needs to be more strategizing and planning going on. If all Muslim professionals in the field of economics and commerce, began to study and understand the essence and principles of an economic system, and then in their current jobs, when given the opportunity to make a decision, enforce a policy, direct an initiative or any other change making opportunity, they take the ‘more Islamic’ option; this will be a move to a ‘more Islamic’ economy than we currently have.

An Islamic financial institution must not be one with an Arabic name that merely staffs bearded and robed employees; it can have any name with any employees but must be ultimately based on Islamic values and principles. I think that our community places too much emphasis on aesthetics! When explaining, for example the benefit of non-interest based models; we should appeal to the logic of man rather than resort to rhetoric..

Two immediate needs present themselves:

- Some coordinative approach to the current certification process to prevent impending abuse of such certification, together with more transparency, discussion and educational initiatives to ensure supreme results are achieved.

- A call for more education on these and other issues- there may have been talks, debates or discussions from on and off the mimbar, but these have been far from adequate. The mindset of our community may not yet be prepared for it, but there inevitably needs to be practical information disseminated by the best disseminators, maulvi’s or not!

The reliance placed by financial institutions on foreign ‘authorities’ further compounds the issue. We should, wherever possible discourage foreigners from certifying local institutions- it may be fine to advise, but they should not certify locally, without an adequate understanding of the local environment, without locals having easy access to discuss and debate with them, and to a lesser degree but just as important, being directly involved with traitorous and treacherous governments masquerading as Muslim governments!

I will request that this email, together with all previous and future correspondence, be posted on Open Forum so that mailboxes no longer need to be bombarded! This is a website that has been set up by someone I know- this perhaps could be used for this purpose: www.comediscuss.blogspot.com

Looking forward to rigorous and beneficial discussion and debate from all concerned parties!


Bilal Randeree


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