Filed under: Front Page News, March Volume 2009, National | Tags: Afghanistan, Clinton, Sharia
Since the beginning of the new administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met with fourteen prominent Afghan women judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. The women came to Washington to participate in a training program arranged by the State Department’s Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan.
In Washington, the Afghan women participated in intensive legal seminars and consultations with senior officials, and explored current topics in Afghan and American legal systems: legal decision-making and mediation, domestic violence, family and mental health, and narcotics law.
President Obama, in his first foreign policy announcement, made clear to Afghan citizens, “We are committed to supporting your efforts to bring security and stability to your country.” Most agree the Afghan justice system needs improvement through education in jurisprudence and professional development. As it stands now, the State Department alleges Afghan judges and lawyers to base their work mainly on tribal codes.
Since the inception of Islam, women have been encouraged to pursue legal careers, a highly respected field. One of the first jurists in Islam was Syeda Aisha, the wife of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad, may the peace of Allah be upon him and his family. People came regularly to seek her legal advice. Today’s Muslims owe one third of Islamic law, known as Sharia, to this most intelligent and blessed lady. Sharia is a highly developed legal system in which modern democracy found much of its roots. During the Islamic caliphate, the main centers of secular learning and debate were in Muslim countries where people of the three major religions lived cohesively prior to the Crusades.
Filed under: Business/Economy, December Volume 1 - 2008, Interfaith, International, World | Tags: Islamic Banking, Islamic Economics, Islamic Finance, Sharia
Usury-Free Sharia Compliance Proves a Blessing as Islamic Investing and Banking Thrives, Despite Tailspin of Interest-Based Systems
By Umm Abdul Malik
Islamic Post Staff Writer
While the Federal Reserve, U. S. Treasury, European Union, G-8 and scores of financial experts work tirelessly to organize, and re-organize a multi-billion dollar financial parachute for the plummeting interest-based financial system, Islamic investing and banking is proliferating by leaps and bounds, and even flourishing –so stated Credit Suisse senior banking associate, Fares Mourad, in a recent Reuters report. Credit Suisse of Switzerland, a prominent European wealth management institution, affirms that its Islamic banking business is growing by double digits. The crisis of the banking world has actually boosted Islamic financial commerce, luring investors who seek assets that are not affected (and are not predicted to be affected) by the havoc that has hit the rest of the financial world.
“If you invest in Islamic finance products, you tend not to be sensitive to developments (ups, downs, and crashes) in interest rates. I’ve seen asset managers in the United Kingdom who are saying they would like to include Islamic investments in their total asset allocation,” Mr. Mourad intimated to European Wealth Management correspondent, Douwe Miedema, even though investors keen on strict adherence to the Islamic laws regarding commerce and financial transactions do not have as broad a variety of financial instruments with which to maneuver as their interest-bearing counterparts in the general marketplace.
Islamic Economic Principles are Rooted in Revelation.
The framework for Islamic financial dealings is contained within the text of the Holy Qur’an, and the laws derived from the commands of the Almighty Creator that are contained in the sacred text. Many of the injunctions related to commerce and finance were introduced to the society of the Holy Last Messenger of Islam, Muhammad, may the peace of the Almighty be upon him, and were immediately implemented as guidelines for Islamic living, as they were supported by Divine sanction and authority.
The foremost pillar of Islamic finance, and the source of much of its allure, is the prohibition of charging or taking interest. Another regulation requires risk-sharing between the extender of venture capital and the entrepreneur.
In addition, Islamic investing dictates that businesses be legal in Islam, i.e., “Sharia-compliant:” in no way involved in production, sales, or trading of: pork or its by-products; alcoholic products; immoral or lewd products, literature, and media; interest-based banking and financial services like insurance.
An umbrella of social responsibility covers the Islamic financial system and those who conduct their business under its cover. To further illustrate, there is no profit for the investor if there are losses for the business. A key element to the current global financial disaster is businesses devoid of profit in a situation exacerbated by the charging of interest on principle.
The Dow Jones Islamic Index.
With the ranks of Muslim investors swelling rapidly as the Muslim population in the United States tops six million, and as overseas Muslim investors seek Sharia-compliant investment opportunities and financial products, the Dow Jones financial news corporation compiled the first American Shari-compliant index – companies whose business practices conform to Islamic standards.
In 1999, Dow Jones employed a board of six Sharia scholars who would review and screen companies. Merck & Co., Pfizer Inc., Microsoft, and Hewlett-Packard were among the 1,800 companies out of a total of 5,000 that were included in the first Islamic index. There are now more than 60 Dow Jones Indexes that track and chart Sharia-compliant stocks and bonds.
Eric Meyer, Connecticut financial advisor with the investment fund Shariah Capital, advises that western financial institutions and banks need to have Shariah-compliant products or risk losing market share. Some investment firms retain a Shariah Board to review and determine whether a particular type of financial transaction complies with the Islamic law.
As more banks offer Muslim and other customers Islamic lending and investment options, more advisors trained in the intricate, and sometimes complex, rules that govern Islamic finance are in demand. Three prominent companies advise clients regarding Islamic investing: Saturna Capital, Azzad Asset Management, and Allied Asset Advisors.
The fundamentals of the economic system developed by the Muslim world over centuries has indeed provided the modern world unexpected guidance at a critical period in time, illustrating the Divine Wisdom in a way of conducting commerce with conscience and social responsibility.
A Growing Trend
Endless volumes of texts dealing with Islamic law have been derived from the Holy Qur’an and the practice of the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family), in an effort to guide Muslims in the principles of just and fair living, social networking amongst themselves, and dealings with non-Muslims as well.
Sharia, the law of the Almighty Creator, was being practiced in the Middle Ages by Muslims, while the rest of the world suffered through feudalism, a tiered system of oppression. Lawmakers today, around the world, are recognizing the wisdom of Islamic law as they implement modern day democratic legislation. (See also “Under Congressman Ellison, Minnesota Initiates Financing Without Usury”)
The following is excerpted from an article in the UK Guardian by author Samia Rahman.
The Muslim Institute of London recently launched a marriage contract it hopes will change the face of British Muslim family life.
The contract is the culmination of a four-year consultation process to guarantee theological rights in Muslim marriages across the UK, rights which have sometimes been hampered by cultural practices.
That the rights accorded by the contract are rooted in sharia, or Islamic law, ignites the debate over whether aspects of sharia may be incorporated into UK law. [This debate strays wide from the point of the contract, which symbolizes the acceptance of Muslim culture and religious law in the UK and also due regard by Muslims for the laws of the state.]
Currently, the Islamic marriage ceremony (nikaah), performed by an imam in the presence of two witnesses, is not recognized by British law and often involves little or no paperwork. If things go awry and the couple divorce, the woman experiences great difficulty securing the financial rights guaranteed to her under sharia law. The terms and conditions of this new contract, signed at the nikaah, clarify both husband and wife’s rights and obligations in all eventualities.
If more mosques apply to become sites registered for the solemnization of marriage, Muslim couples will be able to make their civil ceremony coincide with the nikaah.
The contract is not just about divorce, though. It seeks to establish healthy relationships by highlighting difficult scenarios the couple may encounter in the future. “By laying out the terms and conditions of the marriage, it encourages both parties to establish consensus on issues such as where they will live,” said Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui of the Muslim Institute, an organization which helped draw up the contract.
The architect of the contract, Mufti Barkatulla, has spent the past 25 years presiding over divorce cases at the Islamic Sharia Council. “Problems arise when couples don’t know what to expect. The lack of respect for each other’s personality and choices is shocking,” he says.