Turn your clock back 70 years. Imagine that Wall Street banks and brokerage houses sold Nuremberg-compliant bonds and stock funds in 1938. American Nazi sympathizers bought financial instruments certified by Berlin-based advisors as free of “Jewish profits” from, say, Salomon Brothers and Bloomingdale’s.
In turn, a percentage of such funds’ gains underwrote pro-Nazi charities, like the German-American Bund, and similar organizations in the Fatherland, like the Hitler Youth.
Seventy years hence, an analogous outrage grows on Wall Street, only this time for real.
Sharia-compliant finance (SCF) is expanding among banks and securities houses eager to absorb the hundreds of billions of petrodollars cascading into the Middle East, thanks to $111-per-barrel oil. To lure this cash, financial companies increasingly offer vehicles that neither pay interest nor benefit from gambling, entertainment, alcohol, pork products or anything considered haram or “un-kosher” in Islam. Bahrain’s International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) counts $97 billion in Islamic bonds in circulation with another $66 billion forecast through 2008 — and SCF is not limited to the bond market.
SCF goes far beyond marketing to Muslims and Middle Easterners. IIFM lists “wider sharia acceptance” among its goals. Selling sharia-compliant investments legitimizes a barbaric theocratic orthodoxy that should be defeated, not promoted.
Unlike “cafeteria Catholicism,” (“I’d like the salvation, but please hold the pre-marital chastity,”) sharia is a holistic, take-it-or-leave-it proposition. Sharia is not just about avoiding interest on debt. It is a primitive legal framework that subjugates the citizens of such tyrannies as Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Turn your clock back 1,300 years. According to the Koran, sharia means that, “those women on whose part you fear disobedience, admonish them, and send them to their beds and beat them” (Koran 4:34). For those having sex outside marriage: “The fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them with a hundred stripes” (24:2). “Cut off the hands of thieves, whether they are male or female, as punishment for what they have done” (5:38). Instead of celebrating gay sex with fabulous parades and rainbow flags, “kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done” (Reliance of the Traveler — Abu Dawud 4447). How do you handle an adulteress? “Khalid Walid came forward with a stone which he threw at her head, and when the blood spurted on his face, he cursed her” (Reliance — Muslim 4206). “The Muslim deserves death for…denying any verse of the Koran” (Reliance — pages 597-98, o8.7).
Civilized financiers have no business complying with this.
Nevertheless, Islamic advisers help these funds remain sharia-compliant. Unfortunately, these authorities often are Muslim extremists who appear mainstream by consulting for financial-services companies from Manhattan to London to Frankfurt.
‐ In 2002, Caribou Coffee had to explain the ties between its Atlanta-based sharia-compliant owner, Arcapita, Inc., and Arcapita’s sharia advisor, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. He had defended “our brothers and children in Al-Aqsa and the blessed land of Palestine generously sacrificing their blood, giving their souls willingly in the way of Allah.” Qaradawi eventually resigned from Arcapita.
‐ Sheik Muhammad Taqi Usmani advises the Dow Jones Islamic Index. In his 2006 book, Islam and Modernism, Usmani writes: “The purpose of Jihad is not just to get the right of missionary activities in any country, but it aims at breaking the grandeur of unbelievers and establish[ing] that of Muslims.”
‐ The North American Islamic Trust owns 69.8 percent of the Dow Jones Islamic Fund. The Justice Department identified NAIT last June as an unindicted co-conspirator in supporting Hamas’s murderous anti-Israeli terrorism. The Trust also owns Albany, New York’s Masjid As-Salam mosque. In April 2007, its founder, Mohammed Mosharref Hossain, and imam, Yassin Muhiddin Aref, received 15-year prison sentences for assisting an FBI sting that feigned an operation to assassinate a Pakistani diplomat in Manhattan with a shoulder-fired missile.
Sharia-compliant funds usually donate 2.5 percent of profits as zakat. While such money assists peaceful Muslim causes, some of it has gone ka-boom.
‐ The Holy Land Foundation, Benevolence International Foundation, and Global Relief Foundation, all major Muslim charities, were shuttered in December 2001 for allegedly supporting Islamic terrorism.
‐ According to The Tax Lawyer, Yasin al-Qadi — an investor in one Hamas-connected, sharia-compliant company called BMI (not the perfectly legitimate Broadcast Music, Inc.) — transmitted $820,000 to Chicago’s Quranic Literacy Institute in 1991. Institute employee Mohammad Salah confessed in 1995 that he trained recruits to handle assorted toxins and “basic chemical materials for the preparation of bombs and explosives.”
Sharia-compliant companies are vulnerable to huge civil and even criminal liability if, say, the terrorists who detonated a 757 over St. Louis were funded by fanatics who, themselves, received zakat from such major sharia-finance players as Deutsche Bank or Standard & Poor’s.
“This is bad for America, bad for capitalism, and good for jihad,” says Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, which is sounding the anti-SCF klaxons. The Center’s legal analysis by David Yerushalmi richly details the dangers of sharia finance. The Utah Law Review will publish it in September.
The last thing America needs is jihad with tailored suits and Excel spreadsheets. It’s time to stop the clock on this deadly practice.
— Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution. © 2008 Scripps Howard News Service