Saturday, April 22, 2006


"Why am I here?" the dissilusioned economist wondered as he stared unbelievingly at the shield and the letters written on it: VE RI TAS.

Which truth and which reality?

Here is the truth and reality of Islamic finance, according to Newsweek. Is this the truth that was discussed? The truth that plagues the poor Muslims. The truth of poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy.

Some tried to talk about this, but no, we were told that "Islamic finance" only has the mandate of allowing businessmen to conduct their buiness "according to the Shari`a" [according to whose interpretation, one might ask!].


The truth and reality of bankers recodifying Islamic law by buying their favorite fatwas ($100,000 a year per "Shari`a scholar" should get you the very best), buying their regulators' accommodation (intimidation by playing the religion card gets you a long way), and buying their academic hosts' credibility (I don't know how much academic credibility is sold for nowadays)?

No, of course not. That cannot be said.

The truth and reality of making a mockery of Islam and Muslims?

No, of course not. We can't be that honest.

"Of course, the Islamic sukuk will cost around $50,000 more [incoherent mumbling about "different asset class", and comparing "Islamic sukuk" to Yen-denominated assets, even though those bonds have nothing left but credit risk, and are priced based on credit ratings by the same credit agencies that have made that determination] but that is much better than before", the speaker said. "International banks will have an advantage in Islamic finance... because they have a lot of available hamburgers, and all we have to do is to Islamize some of them", he continued.

Religious peddling of the worst type? Capitalizing on the religious insecurity of Muslims? Our own self-creation of a culture of indulgences and money changers' tables? How can we start with a religion that is inherently a reformation religion and then regress to this level?

If the Prophet Muhammad (p) was there, would he not have been outraged? If Jesus (p) was there, would he not have turned over the money changers' tables? If Moses (p) was there, would he not have burned this golden calf and thrown it into the sea? Where is the Islam in Islamic Finance?

Will anyone speak the truth about this depressing reality?

Veritas -- the shield said, but very few could even bring themselves to hint at it.

Who needs truth and reality when lies, deception, smoke and mirrors can be so profitable?

Do you think that if anyone tried to market this nonsense as Christian or Jewish finance they would have gotten this platform to give credibility to their craft? Whom should we blame? The Muslims who allow the name of their religion to be abused in this fashion, or the snake-oil salesmen who exploit the arbitrage opportunities that we create for them?

Veritas? What Veritas?


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