by Christopher W. Holton

Today’s New York Times has what amounts to an advertorial for Shariah finance, espousing “Retirement Savings, the Muslim Way.”

Not surprisingly, given the New York Times’s jaded past, the article is unbalanced and omits many of the concerns about Shariah finance.

For starters, there is this passage:

Investing in companies earning a minimal amount of interest, typically 5 percent or less, may be allowed, so long as the dividend income derived from that interest is donated to charity.

What the Times is describing is the practice of “purification” in which infected assets are donated to Islamic charities selected by Shariah scholars to offset “ill-gotten gains.”

The problem with this is two-fold:

1. Numerous Islamic charities have been shut down worldwide for funding Jihad.

2. Some of the Shariah scholars who are most prominent in the Shariah-compliant finance industry have been involved with Jihadists and have espoused hateful rhetoric and policies.

Then there is this:

While the bulk of the Islamic financial sector’s assets lie in Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain…

That is just inaccurate. The reality is that Iran is by far the world’s leader in Shariah-compliant finance, both in terms of the largest Shariah-compliant financial institutions and the amount of Shariah-compliant investment assets. In fact, Iran has more Shariah-compliant assets than the 2nd and 3rd ranked countries combined. Moreover, the largest Shariah-compliant financial institutions in the world are Iranian state-run banks.

This is the industry’s dirty secret. The world leader is also the world’s foremost rogue nation with a terrible human rights record, the world’s foremost terrorist-sponsoring regime and a serial proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. So, when the Times refers to all the so-called high standards of the industry, they conveniently leave these facts out.

The Times also picks and chooses what it likes to disclose about Shariah:

Both the Quran and hadith inform Shariah, which guides Muslims through practical life decisions, including how they should make and save money while remaining true to their religious principles.

Conveniently omitted from this whitewash of Shariah are aspects like:

• The obligatory nature of violent Jihad.
• The goal of establishing a worldwide caliphate subjugating non-Muslims.
• The desirability of female “cutting,” aka female genital mutilation.

We could go on and on…

Finally, there is this passage from the Times article:

The Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions, Malaysia’s Islamic Financial Services Board and Bahrain’s International Islamic Financial Market are among the major independent organizations that help Muslims achieve these goals. Advised by boards of Islamic financial experts and religious scholars, these organizations continuously and systematically review companies, bonds and mutual funds to ensure they are Shariah-compliant.”

The Times mentions the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and it is indeed the most prominent independent body attempting to govern and apply standards to the Shariah finance industry. But they don’t tell you anything else.

Sitting atop the AAOIFI Shariah Advisory Board is a man that is no stranger to regular, long-time readers of SFW: Muhammad Taqi Usmani.

Usmani is one of the most prolific Shariah scholars in the world of finance. He receives compensation from dozens of banks and investment firms.

Before cashing in with the private sector, Usmani was a Shariah judge on the Supreme Court of Pakistan for 20 years.

Usmani is also a complete Jihadist.

In September 2001, Usmani was part of a small delegation of clerics known to be sympathetic to the Taliban in Afghanistan and travelled there to ostensibly convince Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, to turn over Osama Bin Laden to the United States. Information leaked later by some of the clerics present at the meeting indicates that the delegation may have, in fact, tried to stiffen the Taliban’s will to resist.

Usmani is a prolific writer in Urdu, Arabic and English, having published dozens of books and countless articles.

Among his books available in English is a vitriolic attack on Christianity called “What is Christianity” and a broadside against the West and modernity called “Islam and Modernism.”

Here is one particularly revealing quote from “Islam and Modernism:”

“Killing is to continue until the unbelievers pay jizyah (subjugation tax) after they are humbled or overpowered.”

Usmani is well-known for his uncompromising views on the mandatory nature of conducting offensive jihad against non-Muslims “in order to establish the supremacy of Islam” worldwide.

Usmani also complained bitterly at the lack of martyrs to combat American forces in Iraq:

“No one is found having any desire of Shahadah (martyrdom). How many mothers are there who want to sacrifice their sons for the cause of Islam? How many sisters are there who want to say goodbye to their brothers departing to wage jihad against non-believers?”

Usmani referred to Americans in Iraq as “stinking atheists” and “the worst ever butchers and vultures of the world” who are “clawing off the flesh of bodies of innocent Iraqi Muslims.”

According to what Usmani has said and written, aggressive jihad against unbelievers is an Islamic obligation and, as such, does not need any justification.

“For a non-Muslim state to have more pomp and glory than a Muslim state itself is an obstacle, therefore to shatter this grandeur is among the greater objectives of jihad.”

Under Pakistani dictator General Zia al-Haq (1977-1988), who was also a zealous advocate of Shariah, Usmani played a key role in the introduction of the Shariah-based punishment code known as the Huddud Ordinance, as well as blasphemy laws and other Shariah injunctions, to the huge detriment of Pakistani justice and civil liberties to this day.

Men like Usmani form the foundation of the industry described in the New York Times article. This alone should be troubling and should at least attract the curiosity of journalists. Then again, I’m not sure the folks at the New York Times can be properly termed “journalists.”

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