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The Halal Certification Fiasco

A Khutbah delivered at the Jumuah Mosque of Cape Town by the Imam Shaykh Habib Bewley. (courtesy of http://jumuamosquect.com/)

الحمد لله، الحمد لله الذي أحل الطيبات، وحرّم الخبيثات، نحمده تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، من يهد الله فهو المهتد ومن يضلل فلن تجد له وليا مرشدا، ونشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، له الملك و له الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير، ونشهد أن سيدنا و مولانا محمداً عبده ورسوله، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدى الأمانة ونصح الأمة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحق، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيا عباد الله اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون. يأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله وقولوا قولا سديدا يصلح لكم أعمالكم ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم. ومن يطع الله ورسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما. اتقوا الله فيما أمر وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر. قال الله تعالى في كتابه الكريم: يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا كُلُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ

Allah says in His Noble Book, the translation of which is, “You who have iman, eat of the good things We have provided for you.”

We have all been shocked by recent developments in the news concerning the abuse of halal certification and the fraudulent labelling of pork products as halal by certain unscrupulous businessman. But it is important that we do not let the details of the case at hand, or the particulars of the parties involved, distract us from the essence of the matter, from the true problem with which we are confronted – halal certification itself. In recent years, this practice has become the accepted norm, the easiest way for Muslims to swiftly and safely determine whether a particular product may be consumed or not. And from humble beginnings, the halal stamp or halal certificate has become big, big business and developed into its own industry, an industry that according to the International Market Bureau of Canada, is worth over $560-billion every year, and brings in tens of millions of rands into the coffers of the organisations who are in charge of doing it here in South Africa.

Now, we are not here to talk about the motives of those who implemented and pioneered this process of certifying products and foods as halal, for they may have originally done so with what they saw as the best interests of the Muslims at heart, seeking to make things easier for the Muslim consumer and allay their doubts as to the permissibility of the food that he was buying and eating. But what we are here to talk about is the presence of such an industry, for it clearly runs counter to a number of essential governing principles of the Deen,
The first of those is that everything is halal until there is some definite proof that it is haram, as is indicated by Allah’s Words,

هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مَا فِي الأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا

the translation of which is, It is He who created for you, everything that is on the earth.” Everything on the earth is for us to make use of, is halal, except for what Allah and His Messenger tell us is haram. But halal certification works on the exact opposite principle, that everything is haram unless it is declared by them to be halal. This is clear when one examines their operating procedures. For example, one of these organisations on its website stipulates the following conditions for businesses that want to obtain their halal certificate:
“Only Halaal food and beverages approved by us are to be served, sold, stored and or processed on the approved premises.” And:
“In the event of private purchases by stores, this will be permitted only from suppliers who have been explicitly approved by us.”
They are expressly forbidding businesses, shops and restaurants from purchasing goods from sources other than those approved by them. And, by extension, they have declared all non-approved goods forbidden, haram. They do exactly what Allah commands them not to do. Allah says,

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا لَا تُحَرِّمُوا طَيِّبَاتِ مَا أَحَلَّ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ

the translation of which is, <em>“You who have iman! do not make haram the good things Allah has made halal for you.” And what Allah has made halal for us is far more broad than these certifying organisations would have us believe. For example, Allah says:

الْيَوْمَ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتُ وَطَعَامُ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حِلٌّ لَكُمْ

the translation of which is: “Today all good things have been made halal for you – the food of those given the Book is halal for you…” There are two things you should note about this aya. First Allah uses the word tayyibaat to describe the food of the people of the Book, and it is this same word, tayyibaat, that He forbade us from making haram in the aya we mentioned earlier. And second, He uses the word uhilla which means to make halal. Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi discusses this aya extensively in his book Ahkam al-Quran and in the course of his discussion says that it does not matter whether they sacrifice the animal to Allah or not, so long as they are Jews or Christians and they slaughter it properly, its meat is halal for us. Qadi Abu Bakr narrates that Imam Malik said,

تؤكل ذبائحُهم المطلقة إلا ما ذبحوا يومَ عيدهم أو لأنصابهم

“Absolutely all their sacrifices may be eaten except for what they sacrifice for their religious holidays or sacrifice to their idols.” And he narrates that Imam ash-Shafi’i went one step further, saying,
تؤكل ذبائحهم وإن ذُكِر غيرُ الله عليها

“Their sacrifices may even be eaten when a name other than that of Allah’s is mentioned over them.”
So, all of their food is halal for us, except for what Allah has expressly forbidden us such as pigs, blood, and animals which have died on their own or been strangled or killed by a blunt instrument. This is the position of many of the great a’imma and was that of the Prophet who himself ate the meat of the Jews without questioning them as to how they slaughtered it. So what is halal and what is haram is not as black and white as those who issue the certificates would have us believe, and nor is it remotely complicated, for the Prophet said,

al-halal bayyin wa-l-haramu bayyin

The second principle of the deen is that the sole Lawmaker is Allah. And it is not for us nor our ulama to set ourselves up as the only people allowed to determine those laws. There is no such thing as a priesthood in Islam, a special class of people through whom God works and in whose hands lies the key to the salvation of the rest of mankind. This concept is totally alien to us. Ulama are simply people to whom Allah has granted ‘ilm, knowledge of His deen and His rulings. And it is their duty to freely transmit that knowledge to the rest of us, not to withhold it and sell it to the highest bidder. They cannot sell rulings because they are not theirs to sell, they are Allah’s. And thus they cannot charge people a premium for ruling their products to be halal. By doing so, they are doing exactly what Allah criticises the rabbis of the Jews for doing, when He says in surat al-Baqara,

‎وَلَا تَشْتَرُوا بِآَيَاتِي ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا

the translation of which is, “Do not sell My signs for a paltry price.” It is totally reprehensible that make a profit from selective issuing of the rulings of the deen. And the fact that they charge such exorbitant fees for their services puts the Muslim customer at a distinct financial disadvantage in the market place, for the price the companies have to pay is passed directly onto the customers. And so food that has the halal certificate almost always tends to be more expensive that that without it. Halal certification has become a form of stealth tax, taking money from the pockets of the ordinary Muslims and putting it into the coffers of the Islamic organisations and ulama.
And it is not just the Muslim on the street who has suffered financially as a result of halal certification, but also many small Muslim businesses. Before the halal stamp became widespread, almost all Muslims used to purchase their meat from their local halal butcher. But, since the advent of the stamp, the supermarkets, most non-Muslim owned and run, have stolen the majority of those butchers’ customers by setting up halal sections and undercutting them, thus cornering the market and driving them out of business.
And those few halal shops and restaurants that remain are greeted with suspicion because of their lack of certificates. No longer is a Muslim’s word taken at face value that his food is halal. As a consequence of this industry, Muslims now trust a printed stamp more than the word of a fellow believer.
And that, despite the fact that we are even forbidden from asking Christians and Jews where the food they are serving comes from when they invite us to eat with them, let alone Muslims. When the Prophet was given the poisoned sheep to eat by the Jews of Khaybar after he had defeated them, he did not ask them about where the meat had come from and would have eaten it were it not for the fact that the meat itself told him that it was poisoned.

And, furthermore, as we have seen by the recent debacle, the stamp is far being a foolproof determinant of whether something is halal, for it can, unbeknownst to us, be forged and transferred from one product to another. And that has been done on numerous occasions, for the corporations who buy these stamps sole interest is the bottom line – scruples do not come into it. If they can do something that will make them more money and open up a new market for them and they think they can get away with it, they will do it. Indeed, it might be said that the existence of halal stamps has caused Muslims to consume a lot more haram food than they would otherwise have done.

And it is not just within those companies to whom those certificates are sold that the potential for abuse resides, but even within the ranks of the ulama themselves who issue them. The majority of those ‘ulama may well be scrupulous, honourable and honest, but the fact that they have knowledge does not make them proof against corruption. History is full of judges taking bribes, and scholars being bought by rulers to endorse their policies. Today, we see it in the great number of Muslim scholars who speak out in favour of Islamic banking in exchange for being placed on those bank’s boards. Muslim societies of the past were well aware of these dangers and used to guard against the corruption of their qadis by paying them huge salaries so that they would feel no need to accept bribes. But today there is no one to pay them but themselves, and no one to govern them but themselves, and so the temptation to line their pockets must be huge. And no matter how God-fearing the current crop of ‘ulama may be, the system they have put into place has opened the door fully for other less principled individuals to take advantage. And, that is something that is already happening in other parts of the world where halal stamps have knowingly been granted to products later found to not be halal at all. And it is happening here, with the desire for profit getting in the way of common sense, and stamps being sold to be affixed on products such as water, tooth picks and black pepper. This is a clear misuse of the system. We ask Allah to restore the trust that once united us and guide us and our ulama back to the sirat al-mustaqim.

أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو الغفور الرَّحيم.
الحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله، صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله وصحبه، والتابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين. أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته.

The halal stamp was originally developed based upon a system put in place by the Jews to distinguish kosher products from non-kosher ones. And although this may seem to many to simply be an example of following one of their better ideas, the drawbacks of certification that we have mentioned seem to suggest otherwise. And, indeed the Messenger of Allah warned us against following them or the Christians saying,

لتَتبِعَنَّ سُنَن مَن قبلَكم شِبرا بشِبر، وذِراعا بذراع، حتى لو سلكوا جُحرَ ضَبٍّ لسلكتُمُوه فقلنا: يا رسول الله اليهودُ والنصارى؟ قال فمن؟

“You will follow the practices of those who came before you, inch by inch and cubit by cubit until even were they to enter a lizard’s hole, you would follow them.” We said, “Messenger of Allah! (Do you mean) the Jews and Christians?” He replied, “Who else?” And Allah gives us an even stronger warning in the Qur’an when He says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا إِنْ تُطِيعُوا فَرِيقًا مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ يَرُدُّوكُمْ بَعْدَ إِيمَانِكُمْ كَافِرِينَ

the translation of which is, “You who believe! if you obey a group of those given the Book, they will make you revert to being kafir after you have had iman.” No matter how good or sensible their practices may seem, they will inevitably bring us down and not raise us up.
Another major problem with halal certification – and indeed the halal industry as a whole – is that it focusses purely upon the mechanics of slaughter and preparation and does not take into account what should be fundamental when declaring something halal. Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُوا مِمَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا

the translation of which is, “Mankind! eat what is halal and good on the earth.” The food that we eat must be wholesome and good as well as halal – the animals should have been treated well and with mercy (for the Prophet was sent as a mercy to all the worlds, including animals and the environment), not living their entire lives stuffed in small cages as is the case with many chickens; and not bought and sold with the proceeds of ribaa and exploitation.

But perhaps the worst thing about halal certification is that it distracts the ‘ulama and the general Muslim populace from more important elements of the deen. It is as if the deen of Allah has been reduced to food – the sole thing that distinguishes us from our non-Muslim counterparts is that what we put into our bellies bears a halal sticker. Is that really all that the deen is about and is that what our ‘ulama should be spending all their time and energy discussing and arguing about? In Cape Town, a city where at least a quarter or a third of the population is Muslim, how can the impact of the Shari‘a be limited to halal stickers on food. Should not at least an equal amount of effort be expended to make all the other aspects of our lives halal as well? Why do we not question the kuffar based ethos when it comes to finance and currency? We should not be trying to carve ourselves a comfortable niche in society where we can cocoon ourselves from what is going on around us – so long as we have our halal meat and our mosques we are okay. No, the message of the deen is universal. The Messenger of Allah was sent to all of mankind wherever they are. We have no more right to Islam than those around us and so we are honour-bound and duty-bound to tell them about it and call them to it. We must show them its superiority in all walks of life, not spend all our time and effort cutting ourselves off from them and isolating ourselves in ghettoes. And our ‘ulama must take the lead in this – they must step up and deal with the issues and problems that plague South Africa today. They must start acting like true inheritors of the Prophets, for the Messenger of Allah has said,

العلماءُ وَرَثة الأنبياء

“The ‘ulama are the inheritors of the Prophets,” and must start putting their knowledge into action. And they must cease to squabble and bicker among themselves and engage in their absurd infighting. That does nothing but tarnish the name of the deen. We ask Allah to set them and us on the right path and join our hearts together. We ask Him to protect all of the people of knowledge among us and increase them in wisdom and right action. We ask Him to reward them for their efforts fi sabili-llah and grant them and us the success to do what is best for His deen. We ask Him to make everything in our lives pure and halal and keep us away from everything that is impure and haram. We ask Him to grant us discrimination and increase the trust and brotherhood among the Muslim umma. We ask Him to guide the people of Cape Town and South Africa to Islam and establish the deen here in its full glory and entirety. And we ask Him to purify our intentions until everything we do is for Him and for Him alone.

إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ، يَا أَيُهَا الذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً. اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ. وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيٍّ، وعن خديجة وعائشة وسائر أزواج النبي، وَعَنْ سَائِرِ الصَّحَابَةِ أَجْمَعِينَ، خُصُوصاً اِلأَنْصَارَ مِنْهُمْ وَالمُهَاجِرِينَ، وَعَنِ التَّابِعِينَ وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ وَمَنْ تَبِعَهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.
اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ وُلَاةَ أُمُورِ المُسْلِمِينَ لِمَا يُرْضِيكَ وَلِاتِّبَاعِ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّكَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَهُمْ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ المُسْتَقِيمِ، وَأَصْلِحْهُمْ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى شَيْخِنَا، وَعَلَى أَمِيرِنَا، وَعَلَى جَمِيعِ أُمَرَاءِ وَزُعَمَاءِ المُسْلِمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى المُسْلِمِينَ فِي هَذِهِ المَدِينَةِ، وَوَفِّقْهُمْ لِمَا تُحِبُّهُ وَتَرْضَاهُ يَا أَكْرَمَ الأَكْرَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ أَعِزَّ الإِسْلَامَ وَالمُسِْلمِينَ (3) وَاخْذُلِ الْكُفْرَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ، وَانْصُرِ المُجَاهِدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. وَاجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وَكَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ هِيَ السُّفْلَى.
رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقَِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.
إِنَّ اللهَ يَامُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَّكَّرُونَ، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُومُواْ إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللهُ.

Follow this link for the audio http://youtu.be/isB8r5z3-Ns

Critique of a Charity’s Attempt to Collect Zakat

With the start of the new Islamic year upon us, I was reminded of a document that I had recently been given, and asked for my views concerning it. A document entitled: A Brief Guide to Zakat in the UK. It was produced by a Suffolk based charity in the UK. Of course from my own book written with Shaykh Abdalhaqq Bewley (Zakat – Raising a Fallen Pillar) and many subsequent writings and conversations, many will know that I don’t generally approve of charities taking on the collection of Zakat. In reality the pillar of Zakat requires a person in authority to be at the centre of it. If this person is backed up by a charity, then all well and good. For the moment we can overlook this as I want to concentrate on reviewing some of the other stances or methodologies that The Charity has adopted.

The Charity document has 6 pages. On page 1 they quite correctly state the great importance of sadaqa sent abroad to help needy Muslims and/or relatives. However, they quite rightly make a clear distinction between this and Zakat. Pleasingly they stress the fact that Zakat is to be collected and distributed locally and that sending it abroad is at best mukruh (disliked) except under very special circumstances. Indeed, on page 2 they offer evidence from the four madhabs to support this stance. This in itself is of utmost importance in that they have not fallen victim to the anti/non-madhabi stance that characterise the modernists, who have all but abandoned the deen.

The document continues on page 2 to outline some important characteristics needed for the collection and distribution of zakat, namely, ‘.. honest, reliable and competent..” So far so good, but unfortunately these words are followed by the word “organisations.” So here they have missed a trick. The deen was not established by organisations. The collection and distribution of Zakat is authorised by people in authority, amirs, governors, sultans and the like.

Committees and Boards of Trustees cannot do it. Look at those things a Muslim leader is entrusted with such as announcing the two eids (thus the beginning and end of Ramadan), minting the gold dinar and silver dirham, appointing Imams to lead the prayer, maintaining the weights & measures in the marketplace and of course the collection and distribution of Zakat. These thing are the responsibility of the man in charge and backed up by advisors, deputies or lieutenants and so on. He can even be supported by charitable institutions/awaqf like The Charity in question.

To their credit the author(s) get back on track on page 3 when clarifying who should pay Zakat and quite clearly address the issue of minors. The document also clarifies when Zakat is due (anytime really) and that it is not connected to Ramadan and thus not to be confused with Zakat-al-Fitr which is an obligation connected to fasting in Ramadan. Also on page 4 they address the nisab on monetary wealth which is either 20 gold dinars or 200 silver dirhams. They equate this to 40 ounces of silver. However in reality this is in fact closer to 19 troy ounces of silver and nearly 3 troy ounces of gold. It is perhaps easy to see why this mistake may have been made.

Firstly, not many people do the necessary research to establish what a dinar or dirham actually is. Today in many countries around the world Islamic Gold Dinars and Islamic Silver Dirhams are being minted under the auspices of the World Islamic Mint (WIM) according to the standards established by Umar ibn Al-Khattab. This includes the correlation specified between the Dinar and Dirham (that 7 dinars is the weight of 10 dirhams). hence we have a weight of 4.25 grams for a Gold Dinar and 2.975 grams for a Silver Dirham. So in weight the nisab would be 85 grams of gold or 595 grams of silver. Of course one should also work out the cost of obtaining a Silver Dirham or Gold Dinar in your locality and work it out on that price. In the UK the best place to look is on the Ayn Gold website.

It is interesting that they (The Charity) have decided to stick to the nisab of silver. This means that more people will be eligible to pay zakat as opposed to if the nisab of gold was taken. So at the time of writing anyone holding savings of around £1,000 (for over a year) would have to pay as opposed to well over £3,000 if the gold nisab were used. In my own community some years ago we made the decision to use the gold nisab. It was reasoned that this would avoid less well-off people having to pay, due to the depressed price of silver. However, I think that here The Charity have a much more authentic position by opting for silver in this matter. They do though, need to be aware of the current availability of actual silver dirhams in the UK and even the movement to have them used as currency. All of this is perhaps an indication that affairs of muamalat that involve daily commerce and other transactions tend not to be given the importance they are due. This is further evidenced by the fact that the document does not address the issue of Zakat on business stock or investments.

The Charity document quite correcly quotes from Surah Tawba the categories of person who may receive Zakat “These categories are the poor, the needy, workers in zakat, people whose hearts are to be reconciled (mu’allafat quloobuhum), captives, debtors, in the cause of Allah and wayfarers (travellers).”

Although not made clear it seems that The Charity are well aware that Zakat cannot be used to build mosques, schools or clinics and other similar noble causes.They are clear that it must be given to individuals in one of the eight categories mentioned. They are also well aware of the need to distribute Zakat locally. These two things by themselves are a great improvement and step forward that we hope will be replicated by other Muslim led charities. So for this the people involved with This Charity deserve great credit.

Sadly what has not been addressed is the matter of Muslim leadership, without which the pillar of Zakat can never truly be implemented properly. They have also failed to address the requirement to pay Zakat on monetary wealth in, Ayn or tangible wealth. In this case gold or silver (preferably dinars or dirhams) They are of course on shaky ground in assuming that paying in bank issued paper money is acceptable, but perhaps we will see something more on these matters at a later date.

May Allah grant us all Success establishing Zakat, abandoning riba, and being a part of bringing Allah’s Deen to life in the lands where we find ourselves.

Amin.

A Little Immodesty – by Abdussamad Clarke

re-posted courtesy of the Bookwright blog http://networkedblogs.com/n6HaT

Sometimes a man must cast modesty and humility aside and stand forth. My turn has come. In the late 80s I was calling for the abandonment of paper money and a return to gold and silver. It was published and it is there in black and white for anyone to read. Now the whole world, from William Rees-Mogg ex-editor of the Times to Max Keiser ex-stockbroker, is calling for the same. But I have no particular merit in this, for I had just returned to Ireland from attending the 1987 Norwich seminar Usury, the Root Cause of the Injustices of our Time1 at which the stupidity of paper money, the criminality of charging interest and other forms of usury, and the need to return to real transactions with things of actual worth was made blindingly clear by a number of distinguished speakers including Shaykh Abdalhaqq Bewley and Hajja Aisha Bewley, the renowned translators of the Qur’an into English. They in turn had listened attentively to Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi who has been saying these things for as long as I can remember and at a time when no one else was saying them.

If we had had any of that paper money ourselves we would probably have been able to follow our own counsel and buy large amounts of gold and silver and would be doubly able to laugh at the rest of the world in its discomfiture as the economic system of usury goes down into something that would make a double-dip recession look like a picnic. But we had none and still have none.

But as we are people who have been proved so utterly and consistently right, I would like you to pay attention. I don’t think it will take so long for this to be fulfilled and it may be absolutely vital for you to know this if you have money and are considering taking this route.

But first of all, I have to make a retraction: in recent posts I have said, with some emphasis, that Islamic bankers and the scholars who gave them the fatwas that licensed their work are hypocrites. There was no call to make such a charge. For all I know they may be utterly well-meaning people who are completely sincere about their Islam.

Nevertheless, if you have a penny in ‘Islamic finance’ or ‘Islamic banking’ get it out while you have time. Not only is it not shari‘ah-compliant – notice that they invent another term rather than call it halal – but it is a bubble waiting to burst. Apparently it is now $1 trillion or so. Don’t be deceived by words such as murabaha, mudaraba, and musharaka etc., because they haven’t given a moment’s thought to the nature of the money which they are using in all those transactions, and the money which they are treating so ‘Islamically’ is not a great deal different from candy-floss, and even candy-floss is much better than the money they are using. So Islamic finance is one great $1 trillion pile of ‘Islamic’ candy-floss. It is an Islamic bubble waiting to burst Islamically and produce an Islamic disaster and quite probably an Islamic recession and, even worse, an Islamic depression as if things weren’t depressing enough as it is.

Get on the winning side and do not be suckered by fatwas from scholars who know nothing about the history of banking except what a university system that is sustained by banking allows them to know. Yes, get on the winning side and lay your hands on some of that gold and silver. Then do what the Muslims have always done: pay your zakat with it, and go out and spend some of that in the way of Allah and on good causes.

To read more from Abdussamad Clarke click here

Bookwright is the web-site of Abdassamad Clarke, Uthman Ibrahim-Morrison and Muhammad Amin Franklin. We translate classic texts of Islam and Sufism from Arabic to English and are also involved in all aspects of editing, indexing, proofreading, book and magazine production and design in Arabic and English.

Malaysian State of Kelantan to Begin Collection of Zakat in Gold Dinars and Silver Dirhams

Some great news from the state of Kelanatan in Malaysia that is fittingly shared on the Zakat Pages website

Courtesy of the Muamalat Council website

Exactly one year ago, on 12 August 2010, a small north-eastern state of Malaysia made a revolutionary step that may well have an impact on the modern world history: the government of Kelantan introduced bi-metallic medium of exchange, Islamic Gold Dinar and Silver Dirham, known in the history and tradition of Islam as Shariah Money. On August 12, 2010 for the first time in the last 100 years a government gave the people freedom to choose their medium of exchange. Since that historic moment up unitl today the entire population of Malaysia – except in Kelantan – was robbed 20% of purchasing power of their capitalist paper currency through a process of legalized theft a.k.a inflation. In contrast, during the same period of time people of Kelantan not only preserved the value of their Shariah coins, in fact the buying power of the sound money of Kelantan had increased: since 12 August 2010 the gold dinar appreciated against Ringgit by 30% while the silver dirham by 100%.

Yesterday, 18 August 2011, gold price hit new all time record – USD1,829. Gold rush that started early this year is apparently becoming pandemic, even the ideological enemies of honest money, central banks, are hastely buying up the yellow metal since they realize only gold will give them a breather when the finaincial tsunami, stocking over horizon, hits the entire globe; this tsunami will be so devastating that the 1997 and 2008 crises will look like a 4.0 magnitude earthquakes. Bank of Russia (Russian central bank), for example, in the last 6 months of 2011 has increased its official reserves by 50 tons making it in total 837 tons and, according to the statement of the vice-chairman of Bank of Russia, the bank’s plan is to keep increasing its gold reserves by minimum 100 tons annualy from now on.

As the world is watching in shock how the US government is trying to pull last tricks to cheat its creditors the people of Kelantan are boarding safe boats and sailing away from disaster of the usurious global economis system. Daily throughout the state sound money of Islam is offered to public at unified price by state-appointed agents (wakala); thousands of shops, business outlets and traders in Kelantan are accepting dinars and dirhams as means of payment; all state companies including utility providers too accept the Islamic currency.

And now, one year after the launch of Shariah Money, Kelantan makes yet another decisive and historic step towards restoring Divine order: on 25th August 2011 payment of Zakat, the third pillar of Islam, will be collected and paid with Shariah currency, Gold Dinar and Silver Dirham, in a public ceremony organized and officiated by the government. According to Islamic law Zakat al-Mal (annual tax on wealth) is collected from real tangible wealth such crops, livestock, gold, silver being in the possession for one year and it cannot be collected with debt contracts, promissory notes or worthless paper like dollar or ringgit. For gold and silver money Zakat al-Mal is 2.5% and it taken only when the wealth of a Muslim reaches the minimum level, 20 dinars or 200 dirhams, it follows that amount of collected Zakat starts from 0.5 gold dinar or 5 silver dirhams.

The historic event will take place at Kelantan Trade Centre in the capital of the state, Kota Bharu, on the 25th August 2011. The program will begin at 15:00 and end by Magrib followed by fast breaking dinner. The event will be officiated by the Chief Minister of the state’s administartion, Dato Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, and state officials. Guests, media from all over the country as well as foreign delegations from Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Spain, England and Kazakhstan will attend the event that promises to trod the way for Muslim nations and communities around the world to restore the fallen pillar of Islam, Zakat.

Who will pay Zakat? Kelantan Government agencies, state companies, private companies and individuals from all over Malaysia who wish to pay Zakat with Halal money of Islam. Who will collect Zakat? The religious department of Kelantan administration, Majlis Agama Islam Kelantan, will set up its counters in the hall during the event; collected coins will be distributed on the same day or maximum within 24 hours. Who will receive Zakat? One thousand poor from various districts of the state will receive Zakat and will be able to spend it in the central market of Kota Bharu as well as shops in their respected areas whose list will be provided to zakat recipients.

This possibility to pay Zakat with Shariah money to official authorties is given to Malaysians for the first time. All Muslims of Malaysia, who have sufficient wealth to pay Zakat on, are cordially invited to join the Zakat Ceremony in Kota Bharu. The coins can be purchased right at the event as Wakalas will open their booths in there. For registration please contact the event organizers at: +6 09 744 1901.

We ask Allah to bless the Sultan of Kelantan, the administration and the people of Kelantan. We ask Allah to guide the Ummah to restoration of Muamalat according to the Amal of Medina al-Munawwara. We ask Allah to unite the Ummah and liberate the Muslim lands from the opression of Kufar. Ameen.

Original article:http://www.muamalahcouncil.com/news/34-general-articles/118-the-state-of-kelantan-collects-zakat-in-shariah-money.html

Time for a New Song

“London’s Burning, London’s Burning”
“People Crying, People Dying
“Shariah! Shariah!”
“Call on Allah, Call on Allah”

On a recent internet forum there was the usual discussion of when Ramadan should begin in the UK. Those (like myself) who propose basing it on a confirmed sighting of the moon within a suitable defined geographic region, were seen as courting controversy. Of course, such criticism often comes from those who want to “modernise” Islam or from aspiring orientalists.

However, that’s not the real controversial view. The thing some of our critics will really baulk at is the fact that I can categorically state that we do actually have the answers to transforming societies for the better. The answers are all there within the deen of Allah and Sunna of His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. So it will be a difficult pill to swallow for some.

It’s clear that critical issues that need to be addressed are enterprise & employment, monetary policy, real local leadership, critical education and social justice.

So this is a call to all Muslim activists, to get in touch and work with us to start with ourselves and begin to transform the societies where we live. This is a call to action!

Muslims in Support of Marks & Spencers (or maybe not)

A few days ago i was sitting in the Mosque, just after one of the prayers, having a conversation with some fellow worshippers. If you had seen us you might have described as a black Jamaican, two white Englishmen, an Eritrean and a Sudanese. Of course that is all irrelevant, as is the fact that we were talking about the historical significance of Ethiopia, or the fact that we were joined by a man of Bangladeshi origin. However, it just helps paints the picture and give a sense of anticipation.

The latest addition to the circle added his own input to what he knew about about Ethiopia (quite a lot as it happens) and then steered the conversation to what was foremost on his mind. he was concerned about some Muslims preaching hatred of the kuffar (non-Muslims). he felt that we should appreciate the good that is dome by countries like the UK and USA in terms of the aid they give to poor countries. I acknowledged that some humanitarian aid is of course very useful. Of course he couldn’t have known that some time back I delivered a lecture on the very topic of the negative impact of foreign aid on African countries. In a nutshell, my argument was that governments that rely on aid (often called “hand over of natural resources bribe money”) then have no need to rely on raising revenue from the people of the country so therefore do not invest heavily developing the infrastructure of the country. This means very little development of roadways, markets, manufacturing, telephone networks or the internet. In contrast, a lot of money is spent creating government jobs for supporters, (so a huge civil service), gifting mining contracts to friends of donor countries, and a huge army to protect the income stream.

Our sixth man then went on to condemn those that suggest Muslims should boycott Marks & Spencers (huge department store/supermarket chain in the UK). Supporters of such an action suggest that either all or a significant chunk of M&S’s Saturday takings are sent to support Israel, or in particular, to support the exploitation, brutality and “murder” of Palestinians by jews. No doubt we will all have our views one way or another on all parts of that statement and I offer no proof one way or another in this article about what that company does with “it’s” money.

Back to the sixth man. His contention was that such a boycott was ill-advised because M & S offer very good quality food, clothing and other products for sale at very reasonable prices, so where else was one to go for such service?.

Many people of my generation would have been staunch and active supporters of boycotting South African goods in protest against the apartheid regime in that country.Of course the difference was that, at least on the face of it, the UK and other governments supported at least some action against the regime (despite all the backdoor dealing that was really going on). Today, however the UK, USA and other governments bend over backwards to turn a blind eye. Yet the actions carried out and the brutality inflicted by Israelis on Palestinians is second to none, as they continually take barbarity to another level.

My reply to our companion was not to suggest that Muslims should (or indeed should not, boycott Marks & Spencers). The point I made was that for a number of reasons Muslims should indeed think about where and how they spend there money. I also pointed out that if the pillar of Zakat were implemented properly it would result in huge cash flows from the richer to the poorer Muslims in the UK. It would empower communities and lead to a whole host of social benefits. I made a point of pointing out that helping communities and individuals abroad is a great and noble act of sadaqa/charity that should continue, but that if we call it Zakat we are denying the true nature and practice of one of the great secrets Allah has given us.

The other point is of course that Palestinian Muslims are now becoming a minority. It is the shia who seem to be in control as well as large christian factions. Indeed it is the Muslims who seem to be suffering most across the Arab world despite appearances.It is hard for a non-Muslim to grasp the fact that Tunisian, Iraqi, Algerian, and Syrian governments could really be Anti-Muslim. In fact it’s hard for many Muslims to grasp that.

The truth is that our Creator, Allah, has given the Muslims all the answers to today’s problems, but we have to recognise it, want it, and as much as possible put it into place. It is precisely this attitude that the sixth man showed that has taken the deen away from the land of the Arabs.

Now, what we really did not get into was the concept of the Islamic/Open market in a community, but perhaps another time. The key thing is that whether individuals make the choice or not to be selective about where they spend their money, there is a much bigger picture to think about which is NOT about the convenience and price of my nylon underwear or ready made fish pie. It is about Muamalat

Success is only by Allah.