Islamic Finance in service of what?

I went to a lecture the other day that explored the question of how islamic, islamic finance is. It was by Dr. Mehmet Asutay, and kinda jammed around this paper. I was heartened by what he had to say, not depressed. He had something nuanced to say about maqasid al sharia. It was that the ibn al quayyum rendering(infitnite list) may be a better point of reference than imam ghazalis(five) and that the goals of Islam, rather than the goals of Islamic Law are more collectivisable.

Translation of islamic mojo isnt about how oil wealth is stored and protected, but how muslim money culture evolves and allows brians, sweat and money to lead to GUD. Gross Ummahtic Dignification. Maqasidi investment has as much to do with how a finance minister may prioritise and allocate state funds, how a venture capitalist might choose what bright ideas to enable, how communities enable GUD and how individuals invest with their resources.

Pure profit making motivation, purifying profit.

Which is why i reckon that we should just wipe jungly Islamic finance out as as, to be invisible. Just like a coke can on a table actually doesnt exist, we shouldnt accord things value on the sole basis of money and figures. (property is the 5th maqasid out of five, behind deen, life, dignity and intellect).

Practicioners of the dark arts dont please me because they seldom talk to the conceptual universe that I inhabit or that the ambitions I have, i find there answers tend to be 'no' and their stances over analytical and lacking vision. Habibie managed to dislodge a lot of such people and get some creative non linear mojo in Indonesia. It is sad that a lot of smart Muslim people seldom take islamic concepts and think with them practical and empirically to check out how they interact with the world.

But Doc Asutay was cool, could communicate with the mixed up millat without confusing, and the QnA was eclectic to say the least. He hat tipped and built on the works of the founders of Islamic Economics, which is something that marks wheat from chaff. He qualified that the foundational stuff came from the islamic resurgence of the 60s and 70s that kinda flopped, so we needed to think about things a bit more. The next generation must look at whats going on now and take the real thing further, not go with the fashion of islamically attracting gulf money like the british government.

He made an interesting couple of points. Some survey of Islamic Finance used in Malaysia in the recent past showed that 88% of it was just use to finance consumption... just buying stuff. whereas something like 2% (musharaka and mudaraba) actually did anything interesting. Interesting means creating essential value not plinging things around. Whether this says more about the dear malay's lack of entrepreneurial mojo than failings in the structure who knows?

But the point is that lots of dosh plinging around isnt the key here, its the benefitial work done by it thats crucial. ok we can understant sharia compliancy like halal meat, as a technocratic permissability factor. But a monstrous building for the opulent erected with islamic finance next to the Kaba? Come on! Allah mentions good(tayeb) whenever he speaks of lawful (halal). The dirty halal fried chicken might be lawful, but is it good?

Maqasidi venture capitalism is what I would like to see work, and a gradual awakening to the point that Allah will judge us well on how we spent our wealth health and time. It's not just about reducing the harm, its about increasing the good. The maqasid conversation, if nothing else, can makes it clear in the Muslim moral vernacular. Its inately vision broadening.

In a sense the states and corporates matter less than communities, families and individuals. Its a bad bad outcome when the faith is only played back but with certain frequencies missing. Taking out the bum notes from the scale is great but you really have to play a good tune. If bad 'Islamic' Financing is a greedy pig in scholastic clothing, it is time for the real murrabi's to distinguish themselves.

Another observation was that it was the Islamic Banks in Sudan (who enable a lot of agriculture) and Bangladesh were fulfilling more than anywhere else. Theres a trust in desh where even the most secular hardcore will bank with them. This mirrors 'secular' parents who want their daughters to marry a jamati boy because he prays and behaves. On social and economic levels things seem ok, its just when political power becomes part of the equation that things go ape.

There was a piece in todays newage paper, carried from bdnews24 about Islamic banks in desh. they repeated some of the same information twice though. Anyway so i was wondering....

(naive)Femenist analysis of islamic banking -> how many females employees do they have>

Economistic analysis of islamic banking -> bunch of numbers, no social context or resemblance of heart.

Anu muhammad (lefti bdeshi uni prof) analysis -> they charge more 'interest' so can profit more. religious command over capitalist economy must be resisted. Democracy please. look this is linked to the defilement of our pure secularism, we have always been secular... look at me, i am everybody.

Nationalist analysis of Islamic banking -> why are you buying them machineries from india?

Muslim students view of Islamic finance -> how can i get a job in it?

degraded Tablighi's view of Islamic banking -> oooh this means i can take a 2 hour break every namaz time.

British view of Islamic Finance -> how can we make some money out of these stupid arabs who seem to be the only ones with welath at the moment. Ah, london as an Islamic hub. badass!

dafter 'Paki' islamist view of Islamic Finance. -> how can i grow my status in this environment? I know, i will mirror the british view.
Malaysian view of Islamic Finance -> ok-la. what ever you like

Islamic Development Bank view of Islamic Finance -> dudes, over here, we do good work we have limited funds and a helluva lot of work to do... look. oh you just want to make money... i see... We'll still be over here when you figure out what a stupid bunch of stupids you are. Anybody want to work in jeddah?


Anonymous said...

check out more about the dangers of ilamic finance

fug said...

no i wont learn anything from that site. its by anti islamic types playing shariaphobic games.