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Tim Dieppe: Islamic finance prevents integration of Muslims


In 2013, then Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I want London to stand alongside Dubai and Kuala Lumpur as one of the great capitals of Islamic finance anywhere in the world.”

His wish is fast coming true. Western financial institutions in the UK have welcomed Islamic finance with open arms. Today, more banks are compliant with Islamic finance in the UK than in any other Western country. The UK also tops the world’s league table as the largest provider of Islamic finance courses in the world, with offerings at around seventy educational institutions.

And in 2014, Britain made history by becoming the first non-Muslim country to issue a sovereign Islamic bond.

So what  exactly is Islamic finance? Well, it is based on the idea that the Qur’an prohibits all forms of interest. But this is actually a modern, radical interpretation of the Qur’an. The truth is that Muslims have borrowed and lent money with interest throughout history, and most still do so today. What the Qur’an historically prohibits is usury, or extortionate interest, and that is how the Qur’an has been interpreted in mainstream Islamic thought, and how it is still understood by most Muslims today.

The ‘modern’ concept of Islamic finance so keenly embraced by Mr Cameron was in fact conceived by Abul A’la Mawdudi, founder of the militant Pakistani Islamist Jama’at-i Islami movement in the 1970s. It is by no means transparent.

Though Islamic finance claims to be interest-free, it is still based on interest. There are charges or profits that are easily recognisable as interest in disguise to anyone working in the field. Moderate Muslims have criticised Islamic finance for being deceptive in this way.  Furthermore the way in which interest is disguised bears a striking resemblance to ‘layering’ techniques used for money laundering. Indeed, the IMF recently highlighted the increased risk of money laundering in Islamic finance.

So one is left asking for what purpose does Islamic finance exist? The answer is that it was conceived by radical Muslims with a radical agenda. Their aim was to promote the segregation of Muslims and ultimately to create a rival financial system – quite simply to prevent the integration of Muslims into western societies. It is notable that Islam is the only religion that demands its own form of finance. Instructing Muslims not to use conventional financial products has the effect of segregating them from mainstream economic life.

Thus it should come as no surprise that a Sharia advisory board is required to ensure the compliance of an Islamic financial product or institution. If disputes arise, these advisers would expect to be consulted.

As well as affecting Muslim investors, this is already having its effect on the rest of us. Take, for example, the Government’s decision about the relocation of Parliament to Richmond House while refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster takes place. You may have seen the press reports that reveal that this building may face an alcohol ban because it comes under the Islamic bond issued by the Government.

This gives an idea of the potential problems that can arise from the growth of Islamic financial products, which in turn grant increased influence to Sharia law.

One might also ask how Sharia compliant financial products are funded? Logically the answer would be that the funding would also be Sharia compliant. This in turn would mean the establishment of an entirely free-standing separate and rival financial system – one that could have no dealings with conventional finance but would create an isolated Islamic economy controlled by Muslims and which would very likely discriminate against non-Muslims. This is not the case as yet, but could become the case as the creation of a rival and entirely separate financial system is indeed part of their aim.

The bottom line is that Islamic finance serves to legitimise Sharia law (as in the case of the alcohol ban). In turn the whole concept of Sharia law is legitimised by the acceptance of Sharia finance. Now we have allowed Sharia law to influence finance and are accommodating Sharia law in this area it becomes all the harder to resist its influence elsewhere – all the harder for example to object to accommodating Sharia law in areas such as family law. Yet Sharia law as we know is inherently discriminatory against both women and non-Muslims.

This clearly did not occur to the ever accommodating Mr Cameron – nor that Islamic finance could serve to further the aims of Islamists; the very same Islamists who are intent on increasing the influence of Sharia law in every area they can and by whatever means they can as the expansion Sharia courts in the UK demonstrates.

Yet Islamic finance is indisputably a form of cultural invasion, widening the influence of Sharia law at the same time as creating a separate and rival financial system, which itself inhibits the integration of Muslims into our society.

The new Prime Minister and Chancellor must, as a matter of urgency, review their Government’s promotion of Islamic finance. They should recognise that Islamic finance is not supported by most Muslims, nor is it a force for cultural integration. To the contrary, it was created by Islamists to further the Islamist agenda. It is high time the government and Western financial institutions faced up to this and called a halt to the growth of this subversive system.

For more information, please download our free 24-page booklet: “What’s wrong with Islamic finance?” here.

(Image: Dave Collier)

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Tim Dieppe
Tim Dieppe
Tim Dieppe is Head of Public Policy at Christian Concern.

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