Sometimes a man must cast modesty and humility aside and stand forth. My turn has come. In the late 80s I was calling for the abandonment of paper money and a return to gold and silver. It was published and it is there in black and white for anyone to read. Now the whole world, from William Rees-Mogg ex-editor of the Times to Max Keiser ex-stockbroker, is calling for the same. But I have no particular merit in this, for I had just returned to Ireland from attending the 1987 Norwich seminar Usury, the Root Cause of the Injustices of our Time1 at which the stupidity of paper money, the criminality of charging interest and other forms of usury, and the need to return to real transactions with things of actual worth was made blindingly clear by a number of distinguished speakers including Shaykh Abdalhaqq Bewley and Hajja Aisha Bewley, the renowned translators of the Qur’an into English. They in turn had listened attentively to Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi who has been saying these things for as long as I can remember and at a time when no one else was saying them.
If we had had any of that paper money ourselves we would probably have been able to follow our own counsel and buy large amounts of gold and silver and would be doubly able to laugh at the rest of the world in its discomfiture as the economic system of usury goes down into something that would make a double-dip recession look like a picnic. But we had none and still have none.
But as we are people who have been proved so utterly and consistently right, I would like you to pay attention. I don’t think it will take so long for this to be fulfilled and it may be absolutely vital for you to know this if you have money and are considering taking this route.
But first of all, I have to make a retraction: in recent posts I have said, with some emphasis, that Islamic bankers and the scholars who gave them the fatwas that licensed their work are hypocrites. There was no call to make such a charge. For all I know they may be utterly well-meaning people who are completely sincere about their Islam.
Nevertheless, if you have a penny in ‘Islamic finance’ or ‘Islamic banking’ get it out while you have time. Not only is it not shari‘ah-compliant – notice that they invent another term rather than call it halal – but it is a bubble waiting to burst. Apparently it is now $1 trillion or so. Don’t be deceived by words such as murabaha, mudaraba, and musharaka etc., because they haven’t given a moment’s thought to the nature of the money which they are using in all those transactions, and the money which they are treating so ‘Islamically’ is not a great deal different from candy-floss, and even candy-floss is much better than the money they are using. So Islamic finance is one great $1 trillion pile of ‘Islamic’ candy-floss. It is an Islamic bubble waiting to burst Islamically and produce an Islamic disaster and quite probably an Islamic recession and, even worse, an Islamic depression as if things weren’t depressing enough as it is.
Get on the winning side and do not be suckered by fatwas from scholars who know nothing about the history of banking except what a university system that is sustained by banking allows them to know. Yes, get on the winning side and lay your hands on some of that gold and silver. Then do what the Muslims have always done: pay your zakat with it, and go out and spend some of that in the way of Allah and on good causes.
1 First published in 1987 under the same name, it was republished in 1989 as Banking, the Root Cause of the Injustices of Our Time by Diwan Press.