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The Year of the Elephant – Abdassamad Clarke

Do you not see what your Lord did with the Companions of the Elephant? Did He not bring all their schemes to nothing, unleashing upon them flock after flock of birds, bombarding them with stones of hard-baked clay, making them like stripped wheat-stalks eaten bare?

Even the weather is out of sorts: one day hot and sunny and the next day blustery and autumnal, although in one sense this is entirely to be expected in England and should surprise no one. But because of a general sense of foreboding one easily interprets it as another epochal sign. Apocalypse is in the air. When I posted our previous article on-line, “A World Out of Balance”, there was almost no response, but when I posted a part of its first paragraph beginning “We are living in a time when history appears to be accelerating towards its destination” I was astonished to find sudden endorsement from a large number of people who thought we were talking about the end of time and the appearance of the Mahdi.

So for Mahdi spotters, there has been much business: the US openly close to default on its debt servicing agreements and, as a result, stock markets crashing; the Spanish demonstrating peacefully and being bludgeoned by their own police force; and the English rioting in scenes of plunder and looting that sound almost 19th century – if it were not that the rioters were eager not for food but mobile phones – rioting untroubled by the police or even fire engines in some places for almost twelve hours since they were taking place in the poorer less salubrious parts of town. Burn baby burn.

That debt

Predictably the US near-default is the occasion for a great many learned punters of all persuasions to speak very knowledgeably on all sorts of aspects of the situation, and so there is no harm if we also cast in our two cents since we have predicted these events for decades, but claim no super expert knowledge for all that. Indeed it is plain arithmetic, or at the most algebra. The equations governing debt and interest, and compound interest, were the first thing taught in secondary schools in my childhood and even that limited exposure to the subject alerts you to the reality of exponential graphs, you know: those ones that shoot off the edge of the graph paper steeply and rapidly. The mathematics of exponential curves actually come from the study of compound interest. Throw into the mix cavalier printing of money, still an obscene notion that we allow someone, anyone to invent money out of nothing by printing numbers on bits of paper, or worse still pressing a few keys on a computer keyboard. Some rail against this privilege being granted to private bankers and wish the state to reclaim it without seeing that whoever does it there is something magically destructive and carcinogenic about it.


That same fundamental arithmetic also means that the Spanish are on the streets, realising, as everyone else, that the people who have been allowed to print or key in the numbers that we consider to be money, have in fact used it to buy or rather steal their country, steal their jobs, steal their lives. They want it all back. But what they had not reckoned with is that those same people have stolen the state and its police force. But now they know. Their throbbing heads bear witness to it. Franco is dead, Spain. The king is dead, long live the king.


And brave Ireland, poor Ireland. Robbed blind by the same people who have also stolen their state, their banks and now their country, and they are ruefully admitting to their own greed and stupidity, and there is much truth in that if it were not that their thimbleful of greed is utterly minuscule compared to the greed of men who steal nations. The Irish, the ‘indomitable Irishry’ in Yeats’ inimitable phrase, have let all the fires go out. They went for the candy floss and are now weighed down with Christian guilt. The only bright spot there is the widespread revulsion at the Catholic Church and its abuse of little boys, except that they are largely only using that as an excuse not to go to the church of which they had become tired, since they have so much work to do as good modern consumers. Ireland, why did you not look to sturdy Iceland and their rejection of all the threats and blandishments of the bankers, and why did you not see that they are already coming through the threatened difficulties?

England Riots

But England? How archetypal it is that as the Greeks march to get their country back, the Spanish indignados get beaten over the head for the same ‘crime’, and Syrians risk and often lose their lives fighting an intolerably repressive regime, and others across the world struggle for justice however misguidedly, the English of all persuasions loot and steal trainers and mobile phones. A Somali shopkeeper interviewed on television, who had observed the early riots at first hand, reported that they were ‘angry’. But then it turned out that he was saying that they were ‘hungry’, but not for food or justice or honour, but for mobile phones and all the other knick-knacks that are considered essential for a middle class existence. No other class is granted human status these days, the working class having been decimated by the simple expedient of taking any work away from them except behind the tills of banks. Make something or be productive in some way? Nah, let them be part of the ‘service’ economy – shorthand for working for the thieves who have stolen the world.

The easy route is to distance the actors: nothing but pure criminality said the journalist, and he should know since he is from a class whose criminality is now a byword. And the political class took the same stance, the people who are in bed with bankers managing a sinking country just long enough to step into a lucrative career at J.P. Morgan when they leave office having imposed austerity on the rest of us. No, the distancing tactic doesn’t make sense. These riots indicate something wrong with ‘our’ society. That doesn’t mean that the rioters themselves are not guilty of crimes, which they clearly are.

But here is the nub of the issue: these rioters are simply acting out their programming. They have been taught that greed is good and every day they are called on, lured and enticed to desire stuff, to consider that life will only be satisfactory with stuff. And they don’t have it; it lies oh so enticingly near but just beyond reach with the advertisements reminding them at regular intervals of how wonderful life will be with the particular goody being sold and how normal this over-consumption is and how abnormal one is without it. And they are on job-seekers’ allowance just managing to keep in beer and fags by cutting down on nourishing food and with no chance of employment. The entire society is built on that basis and our political class consider it their job to faithfully serve that goal, and the police are only there to protect the interests of the advertisers of the goods. And now that has revealed its essentially ugly nature very clearly.

And if we cut even deeper, we find the glaring contradiction that adheres at a much more fundamental level to the industrial project itself. For industry drove craft out of the market by being able to make the same objects in huge volumes and by cutting the prices. However, they inherited a world in which people bought what they needed and repaired it and made it serve sometimes for a lifetime and sometimes even handing it down to posterity. But industry, which made tremendous volumes of products, needed people to buy new products. One approach was planned obsolescence so that products would deteriorate and need replacement more swiftly than handmade goods. The second was to fundamentally alter the nature of our consumption transforming it from consuming what one needs to consuming what one desires and to then continually manufacture new objects of desire, and then work with the advertising and public relations firms to promote people’s desires and stimulate them. Freed of any moral trammels, modern man merely seeks to fulfil his desires from birth to death, but he is appalled when people show even less restraint than him and take directly what they desire, if necessary, smashing and burning their way to get to it. Yet in essence modern man is the same as the rioter, except that he has managed to manoeuvre his way to fulfil his desires without actually breaking laws or rather without getting caught, even though for much of the corporate and financial world the moral boundaries have long ago become too blurred for comfort. Criminality is the essence of the commercial world today.

And how indicative it is of England’s morale at this point: of course the people are going to steal, since this is actually a kleptocracy. As above, so below. Can it be a coincidence that it is not that long since we have had the double revelations of corruption at Westminster and in Wapping and Fleet Street? That is what makes parliament’s and the press’s condemnations doubly repulsive; that they are so hypocritical. When we are accustomed to bankers’ theft of an entire planet, and an establishment riddled throughout with graft and corruption, what are the people on the streets going to do? Hand me those trainers and let’s run for it.

What is shown here is that we are all in trouble. There are fundamental and potentially fatal flaws in our society, from top to bottom. Our élite have been shown to be no paragons, so what model has been held out to the rest of society? Of course, this is a multi-layered issue, with many aspects that could and should be explored, but I am pursuing the monetary one and I think not entirely arbitrarily.

The Muslims redefined as ethnic minorities and made targets for the rage of the deprived

And those global thieves have done an excellent job of diverting attention from their criminal activities and representing Islam as the threat to end all threats to Western civilisation, by which they mean Coca Cola, Macdonalds, ecstasy, same-sex marriages and on-line poker. But why? I mean why is Islam such a threat, that simple Punjabi shopkeepers who are earnestly seeking to become consumers just like everyone else, and indeed a great deal more earnestly putting their families and their culture at risk, should be pilloried as an alien force that ought to be sent home right away? Apart from being devoted consumers, they do try and pray, they do give astonishing amounts of money away in charity, often to their extended families of cousins, widows and divorcees at great remove, they are generally sober, industrious and temperate. What exactly is the threat that they represent?

The reality of Islam

It is a threat that they themselves have not yet discovered, but some authors have noticed it. They have noticed an obscure and small group of the Muslims – us – who are articulate in exposing usury and the mechanisms of banking, and who have been active in re-introducing gold and silver coinage, at first in an almost pathetic and entirely symbolic fashion, but more recently with states in Malaysia and now Kazakhstan beginning to embrace the message. Those authors have said that if the Muslims embrace gold and silver coinage, indeed even if a percentage of the Muslims do, that can bring down the banking system itself.

So Islam itself has been painted as a suitably alien culture against which one can divert the erupting energies that come from the criminal contradictions of our heartless capitalism. And it is doubly useful to castigate Islam because it has the complete answer to replacing that parasitic mode.

Now before anyone thinks that we are idealistic nihilists who would wish to cause chaos, a kind of Götterdämmerung, this is far from the truth. But the activity of bringing gold and silver coins into circulation again, along with the establishment of open markets, the prevention of usurious transactions and other features of a sane economy that are only at home in a restored community, is the only programme on the planet which, as it weakens the entirely destructive force of banking and finance, replaces it with a working alternative.

But it is certainly not enough to approach this as an economic theory since then we step into the false paradigm that what motivates and drives people is greed. That is false, for what motivates greedy people is certainly greed, but others have different motives. The motor, the only conceivable motor for Islamic economics, a term I hesitate to use since it has been so abused by the hypocrites of Islamic banking both the scholars who licensed it and the bankers who make money from it, is the core motor of the zakat whose essence is the worship of Allah, the Divine, the Creator of all the worlds. Worship is the core of an Islamic economy.

Zakat: the Centre of Islamic Economy

Zakat is the centre of all Islamic commercial activity. It springs from the understanding that the human being is only created for knowledge, worship, praise and celebration of the Divine, and that one way that can be done is through wealth. So while we have an entire world order built on the ‘greed is good’ philosophy of the reptilian Gordon Gekko, bringing the planet ever closer to extinction whether ecologically or through the third world war that it threatens to bring down on our heads, nothing can oppose that except its complete opposite which is the view that sees giving money away as pleasing the Divine. And if one is going to give money away, it ought to be pure and real, and not bits of paper of no intrinsic value that are deflating in a downward exponential curve just as prices inflate in an upward curve benefitting no one but the thieves of the new world disorder. This assumes as a given that people will naturally work in the world and acquire goods and money. But what different intentions Gordon Gekko has to this other view!

The core, of course, is not a recognisably ‘Christian’ charity, but the pillar of zakat in which Muslims’ leaders collect from the wealthy and give to the eight categories who may legally receive it. They collect in real wealth – gold, silver, crops and cattle – and not paper tokens. They give it locally and do not send to faraway lands, even if people like the Somalis are desperate. But the Muslims have always been generous beyond the legal minimum represented by zakat and there is every reason why they should take care of people who are in need but remote from us through voluntary giving, but that is a subject for another day.

The local collection and distribution of zakat by local leaders will rebuild local community, and when that is being done, the Muslims must also remember non-Muslims some of whom are permitted to receive zakat under the category of those whose hearts are to be reconciled. For it to be sane and healthy, the part of it that is levied on cash must be collected in gold Dinars and silver Dirhams and distributed in those selfsame coins, necessitating traders beginning to accept them.

And why would this have any effect on the world economy of limitless greed? That is because of the mathematics of greed which utilises the insane principle of leverage by which every deposit is multiplied in effect, often a hundredfold and more. This is the amplification that given the computer adage of ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’ wreaks havoc way beyond its original flimsy means. But just as a dollar deposited is multiplied a hundredfold, a dollar withdrawn and spent on gold or silver will also be multiplied a hundredfold, and if we multiply that by even that tiny fraction of the Muslims who are beginning to wake up to these issues, we are talking about a cyclone that will bring down the banking and finance motor that drives the vehicle that has thrown American workers on the rubbish-tip of permanent unemployment and given their jobs to Chinese who are drunk on the first wave of the psychosis called ‘growth’ to be followed in not to distant a future by the hangover called crash and recession.

We don’t need to know any of that. What we need to know is the obligatory nature of the zakat, and that it has to be paid in something that is not in itself a debt, and every currency we know today is a debt except for gold and silver. To worship Allah purely and sincerely, gold Dinars and silver Dirhams will have to become our currency as they were the currency of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and his Companions and all the generations of Islam until almost yesterday historically when our predecessors, may Allah forgive them, were seduced by the blandishments and coerced by the threats of diseased people intent on stealing the earth. When the Muslims attend to this matter, they will rescue all the peoples of the earth, which is quite fitting since it is a part of our way that Man is a caliph for the Divine, a custodian who has to tend the earth and all its peoples.

And if you feel tempted to ask: “What possible use can gold and silver coins be when we are faced with such a massive and overwhelming system, economically, militarily and indeed culturally?” then I would reply: “Do you not see what your Lord did with the Companions of the Elephant?

Posted in Articles.

7 Responses

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  1. Sharon Chambers says

    These are really interesting and relevant articles for our times. However, a great number of the Muslims in Arab world who are not taught or were not taught about these matters would love to be able to read in Arabic same or similar articles. Is it possible to find such articles in Arabic?

  2. admin says

    As yet, I have not found the Arabic translator who would do this. If you know of anyone please let me know.


  3. Sharon Chambers says

    I will try because each time I converse with my colleagues (teachers ) despite their knowledge of Quran and the history and such things.. this kind of current linking of events in a practical way to similar stories (events) in the Quran is alien to most.. They are not able to have discourse in a meaningful way and neither incorporate these concepts and analytic thinking in the lessons.. These kinds of issues need to be taught (opened up ) to our students here in North Africa and M.E…

  4. Tosif Saleh says

    Salaam Sidi,

    A beautifully written powerful message. It has begun, the revival has begun, and I have signed my name up! We must start NOW! There is no time.

    Jazakallah as always Hajj.


  5. admin says

    Yes, welcome on board. You have come just in time.

    wa alaikum as-salam,


  6. zakir says

    nice article.usury is a disease and islam has the cure.

  7. admin says

    You are so right, but the situation that confronts us is that the Muslims themselves do not take that cure.

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