Sunday, August 5, 2007

Profits in the name of religion

"Islamic banking is another phenomenon which I have personally found quite puzzling because by replacing “interest” with “profit” and engaging a religious scholar to put his seal on a transaction does not make that particular transaction “halal” in my opinion. Living in the interconnected global economy as we do how does an Islamic bank ensure that not a rupee/dirham/dollar is coming from a source that generates interest? With the consumer banking industry experiencing tremendous growth in the past nine years with the advent of Mr Shaukat Aziz in Pakistan, Islamic banks have proliferated by the dozen. Hoardings scream out to us to bank the “halal” way implying that the other banks are offering “haram” services. Advertisements call out to the faithful to use “halal” debit cards and enter to win a free umra, and now the faithful can even accumulate points which will ultimately lead to Paradise once they’ve got enough points to perform a free Haj. Is this what it has all come down to? Islamic banks are like any other banks and the investors who set them up have done so not to ensure the spiritual well-being of their customers but to make huge profits — nothing more and nothing less.


By using the emotional pull of religion to increase deposits somehow just doesn’t strike me as a particularly clean way of making money."

Shakir Husain, The News, Pakistan, 30 July 2007

No comments: