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Canada: Why Shariah mortgage is a deception

Saturday 15 June 2019, by siawi3

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]


Why Shariah mortgage is a deception

Tarek Fatah

Published: June 12, 2019 Updated: June 12, 2019 6:11 PM EDT

Last week’s Ontario Superior Court judgment exonerating two men for a dozen criminal charges related to the marketing of Islamic mortgages based on Shariah law went unreported in all Canadian newspapers and network TV other than the online pages of CBC News.

Was the omission a recognition that the sword of Damocles is hanging over every journalist? After all, the threat of being labelled ‘Islamophobic’, racist or worse is never too far away.

I took on this particular case in my last column but now want to take the time to more fully address the broader question of what is Islamic banking and how did Shariah law make its way into our judiciary system.

Shariah banking and Islamic finance did not exist for most of Islam’s 1,400-year history. The origin of Islamic banking has its roots in the rise of Islamism or the use of Islam as a political ideology beginning in the 1920s.

However, in practical terms Shariah Islamic banking did not start until the late 1970s and owes much of its foundation to the Islamist doctrine of two people — Abul Ala Maudoodi of the Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan and Hassan al-Banna of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

These ‘products’ and terminology were put into practice by the jihadi Pakistani military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq who established Shariah banking law in Pakistan.

The fact is Islam prohibits usury, not interest. Every English-language translation of the Quran has translated the Arabic word ‘riba’ as usury, not ‘interest’. Yet, Islamists have deliberately portrayed bank interest as usury and labelled the current banking system as un-Islamic.

Two authors, both senior Muslim bankers, have written scathing critiques of Shariah banking, one labelling the practice as nothing more than “deception,” with the other suggesting the entire exercise was “a convenient pretext for advancing broad Islamic objectives and for lining the pockets of religious officials.”

In his book, ‘Islamic Banking — A $300 Billion Deception,’ Muhammad Saleem, former president and CEO of Park Avenue Bank in New York, not only dismisses the founding premise of Shariah and Islamic banking, he writes: “Islamic banks do not practise what they preach: they all charge interest, but disguised in Islamic garb. Thus, they engage in deceptive and dishonest banking practises.”

Another expert, Timur Kuran, who taught Islamic Thought at the University of Southern California, mocks the very idea. In his book, ‘Islam and Mammon: The Economic Predicaments of Islamism’, Kuran writes that the effort to introduce Shariah banking “has promoted the spread of anti-modern currents of thought all across the Islamic world. It has also fostered an environment conducive to Islamist militancy.”

Andrew Potter wrote a piece on this in Maclean’s magazine, with the headline: “Shariah Banking – There’s big business in fooling God” and he is OK with it.” Potter added, “if helping Muslims fool their God is part of the price we have to pay for global economic and political stability, it’s the bargain of the century.”

Sarcasm aside, the only question that needs to be addressed by Canada’s politicians, (not its theologians, no matter how exotic their attire) is this: How did Shariah Islamic law become an acceptable substitute for our Canadian laws and how did it enter our judiciary?

Who among our politicians has the spine to stand up to Islamist blackmail that is equivalent to a 21st-century version of selling medieval indulgences to guilt-ridden sinners seeking redemption? Is one law for all Canadians such a difficult notion?