Friday, July 05, 2019

On The Responsibilities of Muslim Financial Providers

I was invited to participate on a Muslim conference panel on home financing, and rather than decline the invitation, outlined my views (which would be familiar to any reader of this blog) and indicated that I would be happy to participate if the objective was to offer a variety of opinions, but that it may be better to find another panelist if the objective was not to undermine the alternatives offered in this forum. The gentleman who had invited me thanked me for my candor and chose the second option.

I followed up this morning with an email, from which I thought that I would quote some excerpts below... I have redacted all parts of the email that would identify my interlocutor, and thought that the main message is one that I should put in the public domain through this blog post:

...  
I hesitate to say more in the meantime, but I have sensed in your email a rare sincerity that merits taking the risk.
First, ...
Second, I do not know your model, but submit to you what you certainly know: that whether or not a model in finance is “working” can only be determined at extreme and very rare events such as bankruptcy, which stress ownership structure and priority of claims to assets, which require courts to determine what happens under circumstances that financial engineers and regulators had not considered throughly (and had no court precedent upon which to base their analysis). Does a model of co-ownership expose your members to legal risks from which they are protected under the regulatory framework of conventional mortgages? Are the benefits they get from your model sufficient to counterbalance such (and other) potential risks? 
Third, I am not surprised that you have a long waiting list (my friend ... had also mentioned something similar). But do we not recognize that this demand is the result of terrible miseducation by the ideologue propagandists of the second half of the past century, who convinced many Muslims (wrongly) that interest is the same thing as the categorically forbidden riba? As someone who is responsible for the financial well being of your community, do you not have the responsibility to deprogram your community, who are waiting for your alternative, so that they may pursue the other permissible conventional financial alternatives available to them?
 

Monday, July 01, 2019

Summer Peace

I took this photo of the Summer Solstice Sunrise at Aztec Ruins in New Mexico on Friday, June 21, 2019.

Summer Peace

This old Egyptian boy
is finally at peace
now that the Spring has gone,
and Fall is drawing near.

Egyptian Spring tormented
him with blooming hopes,
defying all logic...

He knew throughout his life
that those Egyptian Springs
have always burned his lungs
with fifty-day sandstorms,
and yet somehow he thought:
"This Spring could be different."
He foolishly inhaled!

But now, Summer is here,
and now he can exhale,
relinquishing all hope,
reclaiming sweet surrender,
and waiting for the Fall,
his sweet eternal Fall.