It is “financial jihad,” explained Yusuf Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s sharia compass — and the man Feisal Rauf, the brains behind the proposed Ground Zero mosque, admires as “the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today.” It was 2002 and Qaradawi, who endorses suicide bombing and the targeting of American personnel operating in Islamic countries, was giving a lecture on the need to use the international financial system to support Islamist goals — like Hamas’s war to destroy Israel.
The financial jihad has now achieved its greatest coup so far: It has co-opted the U.S. government as a partner. In fact, if you would like to see a contributor to the jihad, have a look in the mirror. Thanks to the Obama administration, every one of us is complicit. The bailout bonanza made each of us an owner of American Insurance Group (AIG). Under the stewardship of its real CEO, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, AIG proudly runs the world’s most lavishly funded sharia-compliant insurance business — and it is desperately trying to convince a federal court in Michigan that no one should have a problem with that.
Sharia-compliant finance (SCF) is now a thriving American industry. Sharia is Islam’s authoritarian legal framework. It aspires to control not merely spiritual life but all aspects of society, including economic matters. The purpose of SCF is to advance that mission in two important ways.
First, SCF legitimizes the incorporation of sharia into our legal system, despite the fact that many features of Islamic law are anti-constitutional. That is, once sharia governance is accepted in principle, Islamists shrewdly figure the skids are greased for imposing sharia tenets on other aspects of our national life (e.g., domestic relations, employment matters, criminal law, etc.). Second, because sharia is a discriminatory system, SCF promotes Islamist ideology and enriches Muslims at the expense of non-Muslims by controlling investments and “purging” interest.
Companies that practice SCF, including AIG, retain advisory boards of sharia experts. These boards, which often include Islamist ideologues, tell the companies which investments are permissible (halal) and which are not (haram). AIG’s “Shariah Supervisory Committee” includes a Pakistani named Imran Ashraf Usmani, who is the son and student of Taqi Usmani, a top cleric (a “mufti”) and a globally renowned sharia-finance authority. The mufti is author of a book that features a chapter urging Muslims in the West to engage in jihad against the countries in which they live.
In the insurance business, those who purchase policies pay premiums, which insurers like AIG then invest. To be sharia-compliant, investments must not be made in enterprises Islam forbids, e.g., finance (because it makes money off interest, which sharia prohibits), pork, gambling, alcohol, etc. Sounds harmless enough . . . except forbidden enterprises would also include businesses that support or otherwise work with the U.S. armed forces. Islamists consider our military to be an “infidel force” that is “at war with Islam.”
Because sharia bars interest (although it permits “profits” that Islamic authorities, in their infinite wisdom, deem reasonable), SCF requires that investments be constantly monitored and that any interest payments be purged. This is done by skimming off a percentage that is then channeled — at the direction of the advisory board — to an Islamic “charity.” Of course, as no one knows better than the Treasury Department, many such charities are merely fronts for the financing of terrorist organizations. This is not an accident. When Sheikh Qaradawi speaks of “financial jihad” as an Islamic obligation, he’s not kidding: In Islamist ideology, funding those who “fight in Allah’s cause” — e.g., Hamas — is one of the eight categories of permissible zakat, the Muslim obligation of almsgiving.
So, an American company that practices SCF is, wittingly or not, advancing the jihadist agenda: It will deny financing to enterprises that help our military combat terrorists while running the risk that its sharia advisers will steer funding to those same terrorists. That aside, the portrayal by President Obama and others of zakat as “charitable giving” is a misconception. According to the most influential Islamic authorities, zakat can be given only to Muslims. It is not an extension of one’s hand to the world’s most needy; it is an insular duty to fortify the ummah, the notional Islamic nation. Consequently, the purging of interest is nothing more than a redistribution of wealth from non-Muslims to Muslims.