By.Dr.Abdal Hakim Murad, UK- 12 Oct.2009
Does this mean that it is wrong to own things? Of course not, as
money and offspring can be positive things in the life of a believer,
and we do of course have basic needs which need to be met. But we must
remember that the pleasures of consumption are quickly gone, while
lasting benefit comes only from using our wealth to uphold the rights of
others; namely the orphan, the traveller, and the needy. Wealth is thus
truly ours only once it has been given away.
Those who are
genuinely distracted by worldly increase, and who make it an end in and
of itself rather than as a means towards something better are in effect
guilty of a form of idolatry. Ours is an age that has made idols of the
great banks and finance houses, driven to frenzy by competition amongst
billionaires who are kept awake at night by the thought that a rival
might make a business deal more quickly than them. A banker who can
asset strip companies and throw its employees out onto the street is
someone who is in the grip of an obsession that has thrown him beyond of
the normal frontiers of humanity.
Neo-classical economics has
traditionally focused on four things: land, labour, capital and money,
the first three of which are finite, while the fourth, money, is
theoretically infinite, and is therefore where human greed has been
particularly focussed. Thus arose a system where someone could, with
approval, set up a bank with only £1, and then lend £100 using property
and other assets promised by others as security.
The lender now
has £100 including interest, which they earned by just sitting there and
doing nothing. On the basis of this £100, they can then lend £1000, and
on and on, until the cancerous growth lubricated by greed becomes so
huge that it leads to a fundamental breakdown in the system. Such a
system based on usury, with interest as the bizarre "price of money"
which itself becomes a commodity, was once prohibited by all faiths.
People had a simple and natural intuition that the commoditisation of a
measurement of value would open the door to trading in unreal assets,
and ultimately to a model of finance that would destroy natural
restraints and even, potentially, the planet.
In the classical
Islamic system, by contrast, money is the substance of either gold or
silver. With a tangible and finite asset being the only measure of
value, there is a great deal more certainty about the value of assets
and the price of money. This basic wisdom was though not just a
theoretical ideal; it succeeded. Muslim society at its height was
mercantile, and it was successful. Never was money assigned its own
value and never was it seen as an end in and of itself.
Since the abolition of the gold standard however, theoretical limits on the price of money were removed. Last year's meltdown,
whose final consequences were unguessable, was a sign of the inbuilt
dangers of a usurious world. Humans are naturally short-termist but in
times of crisis we must take stock. As with the related environmental
crisis, now is the time to be smarter and more self-restrained. The
believer is in any case allergic to the mad amassing of wealth, since he
or she expects true happiness and peace only in the remembering of God
and in the next world.
Now is the time to think seriously about
finding an economic system to replace the one whose dangers have just
been revealed. Upon the conquest of Mecca, a verse of the Qur'an was
revealed commanding people to give up what remained of their
interest-based transactions, upon which a new system based on the value
of gold and silver was initiated.
Those who relied so heavily on
the old system would of course have been unable to understand a system
without banking charges, but not only was such a system created but a
successful civilisation was created using these ideas.
Last year we peered into the abyss; now we must apply self-restraint and wisdom, before complete catastrophe ensues.
Note: The dawn/rise/revival of islamic gold dinar and silver dirham money for muamalat
had take off in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, South Africa and Pakistan in 2011-2012....