Can Islam Save The Economy?

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society Topics: Economy, Islam, Islamic Finance Views: 9265

Governments worldwide are struggling to manage the global financial crisis, with no end to the downturn in sight. But at least so far, one sector has been unscathed: the $1 trillion-and-growing business of Sharia-compliant banking.

That's right, Sharia. The same combination of medieval Islamic law and modern post-colonialism that makes the terrorist clique supposedly so hateful of Western freedoms. Where finance is concerned, most muftis-Islamic religious scholars-agree that God prohibits charging any amount of interest on loans. Trading debt and risky speculation are off-limits too, as is investment in immoral enterprises like gambling, prostitution, and war profiteering. Transactions should be highly transparent and risk, as well as return, should be shared by all parties. You can't trap people into owing more than they can pay. Basically, most everything that caused the current mess isn't allowed. "Given their constraints, they actually don't hold any conventional debt or conventional mortgages," explains Samuel Hayes, emeritus professor of investment banking at Harvard. "They don't have any of these derivatives or outright subprime loans. There's no doubt that they have weathered this better than the conventional banks."

For a world in need of fast, creative solutions to a cascading crisis, might this financial subculture offer a way out? Duke University economist Timur Kuran calls for caution. "I think it's going to be a year or two before we have enough data to really know if it is the case that the banks are doing better and what explains it." One way or another, says Bill Maurer, an anthropologist at U.C., Irvine who studies alternative economies, "this is a really interesting moment for Islamic banking."

Sharia-compliant banks began appearing in the 1970s, but the concept dates to mid-century in South Asia and the Middle East, as Muslims newly independent from European rule sought to create an Islamic identity that would permeate all aspects of life, public and private. The first banks were small partnerships and development initiatives. In 1975, the Islamic Development Bank was founded by 23 Muslim countries (now 56), combining a World Bank-style mission with interest-free loans to member governments. It lent legitimacy and visibility to the approach. That decade's oil boom gave a jump start to a new crop of commercial Islamic banks, particularly in the Persian Gulf states. By the 80s, Pakistan, Sudan, and Iran were making efforts to Islamize their entire economies. 

In the last decade, the industry has expanded dramatically. Dow Jones now offers an Islamic index for tracking halal businesses. Networks are growing among the religious scholars who sit on the banks' regulatory boards. The sharia-compliant line of financial instruments continues to grow, each known by its Arabic name: takaful insurance and sukuk bonds are already feeding the construction boom in the Gulf states. Islamic banks are opening across the Muslim diaspora, in places like London and Pasadena, California. Even big conventional banks are feeling the Islamic fever. Citicorp, Deutsche Bank, and HSBC have all opened Sharia-compliant subsidiaries. Recently, the British government has announced plans to issue sukuks of its own.

Meanwhile, governments that fear the power of Islamist movements, such as Egypt and Tunisia, have been reluctant to put their support behind the industry. There are some loose connections to radicalism. Sayyid Qutb, a hero of Osama bin Laden's, was an early advocate. In Iraq, Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, the father-in-law of Muqtada, made important theoretical contributions on the Shia side of the movement. The fledgling Islamic banks in the United States have come under increasing official scrutiny since 9/11. But aside from the cadre of vigilantes whose sense of purpose depends on seeing a never-ending "Islamofacist" threat, observers agree that there's no credible link between these banks and Al Qaeda-type bad guys. Read the founding theorists of Islamic economics, in fact, and you'll find a decidedly pacifist tone.

A golden age, in theory

From the view of Islamic law, writes Umar Chapra, a leading economist in Saudi Arabia, "while economic growth is essential, it is not sufficient for attaining real human well-being." Rather, we depend on "spiritual health at the core of human consciousness, and justice and fair play at all levels of human interaction." Much more than a business model for specialty banks, he and many others believe that Islamic economics offers a much wider vision. The conventional view of the homo economicus-super-rational, selfish utility maximizer-dehumanizes people, denying the divine stamp on our nature. A truly Islamic economic theory, they believe, should restructure consumer preferences, ensuring that basic necessities are plentiful and luxuries come only after everyone is provided for. People should feel motivated to work by knowing that they share equitably in the produce of their labors. Sharia guidelines for inheritance distribute wealth among families in ways that prevents too much accumulation. More than an economics in the usual "dismal science" sense, this is a comprehensive rulebook for playing well with others. It also claims its authority from God.

The theory has something in mind for governments as well. They are responsible for administering the zakat tax, one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Though often translated as "almsgiving," it literally means "that which purifies." Though believers are encouraged to give over and above, the classical jurists developed a system of minimum annual requirements for a person's accumulated wealth. The rate of zakat varies depending on the resources one owns; it can range between 2.5% and 20%. These funds should be directed primarily toward redistributive purposes, to soften the market's burden on the poor. However, they can also be used to fund religious causes, a fact which medieval regimes sometimes used to usurp zakat funds for expansionary warfare. But modern Islamic economists, by and large, discourage military spending wherever possible.

The distribution of charitable giving is one of the many high hopes Islamic economists have for government. There is, in the literature, expectation for a kind of elixir effect. "The question of dishonest practices in the case of zakat is quite unexpected," writes the Pakistani economist M.A. Mannan, "because of zakat's religio-economic character." This, at least, is an impression they share with the Taliban and the ayatollahs: if you make the society religious in name and appearance, it automatically becomes religious in character. With corruption so widespread across the Muslim-majority world, it isn't hard to see the appeal of such a pious panacea.

Islam, the theorists believe, offers a distinct alternative to the other big-picture political economic options, capitalism and communism. By incorporating both markets and redistribution, they see it as the best of both worlds. After the two mega-ideologies spent the Cold War fighting over the allegiances of Muslim countries, the Soviet Union collapsed and now global capitalism is grinding to a halt as well. Islamists suspect that the reason Muslim countries remain impoverished is a fundamental incompatibility between these Western economics systems and the values that Muslim cultures hold dear. Now, perhaps, is the time for a third option to have its chance.

At the very least, suggests Boston University anthropologist Robert Hefner in a recent essay, these theories "provide a fascinating point of entry into the thoughts of Muslim leaders on global capitalism."
Are the fundamentals sound?

The most tangible outgrowths of Islamic economic thought, the banks, tend to be rather quiet about the visionaries' grand ambitions. Their spokespeople sound like bankers anywhere: optimistic, practical, and fond of jargon (in this case, specialized Arabic terms mixed in with the English vocabulary of international finance). By peppering business deals with the language of the Qur'an, the transaction seems to take on the endorsement of a higher power. Preachers play the role of advertisers by exhorting their congregations to purify their savings from interest. "Is 'Islam' merely a sort of brand name attached to products for marketing to a Muslim niche?" asks Bill Maurer in his book, Mutual Life, Limited.

If it is, the brand has its consequences. "In their investing options and the lack of diversification that they have to live with," Samuel Hayes says, Islamic investors "pay a price, no doubt about it." On a large scale, risk-sharing arrangements mean slower growth and, potentially, less short-run security for individual depositors. In one Muslim country, Jordan, the central bank has been reluctant to approve many new Islamic institutions for fear that they might add an unstable element to the bourgeoning financial industry. The banks that already do exist there have poor reputations. Because of cases like this, most observers doubt that Islamic finance will broaden its appeal beyond the pious. But according to Mohammad Ismaeel, the Director of Global Marketing for HSBC's Islamic arm, this may be changing. He claims that more than half of his bank's customers in the Asian market are non-Muslim Chinese. "They haven't come to us for Islamic reasons," he insists, "but because it is a sound financial product. They've taken it on for those reasons and those reasons only." 
In the process of becoming competitive, though, Islamic banks may have lost some of the values they claim to be founded on. The theorists' original hopes for fostering more ethical consumer preferences hasn't taken hold in the banking culture. Bill Maurer, who has studied Islamic banks in South Asia and the United States, says these institutions aren't much different from other banks, despite some conspicuous signs of piety like prayer rooms and conservative clothing. Working at one doesn't mean joining a monastery. "A lot of the time," adds Maurer, "it's the same kind of drudgery and tedium that any old bank employee is dealing with."

Among those in the West who have been following the progress of Islamic finance, Turkish-born Timur Kuran is the most skeptical. "Endeavoring to implement Islamic economics," he writes in his book Islam and Mammon, both bankers and governments inevitably "recognize its unrealism." While the earliest experiments depended on genuine partnerships and risk-sharing, the bulk of today's Islamic transactions use instruments that differ only in name from what a conventional bank offers. In one of the most popular and long-practiced of these, murabaha, the bank buys an item for the client, who then in turn buys it from the bank, along with a premium that cleaves suspiciously close to the conventional interest rate. Religious scholars agree that the transaction is acceptable, even if the bank owns the item for just a millisecond. Pure in God's eyes, perhaps, but there is nearly no difference in economic terms. Kuran and others have also pointed out that during the medieval period, when the Sharia guidelines for commerce were developed, nothing resembling a modern bank existed. There was no legal provision for such an institution to outlive individual owners, as nowadays a bank of any scale must.

In light of the Islamic sector's competitive disadvantage, and even questionable adherence to its own ideals, Kuran advocates making its target audience more aware of the risks. Potential customers should know, he believes, that "its political importance and symbolic importance is more important than its economic essence." But symbols and politics are never far from the machinations of economy. One need look no farther than the vagaries of investor confidence or the political imperatives that shaped the bailout plan this past fall. 

From constraints to creativity

Kuran nevertheless suspects that there is something to learn from the experience of Islamic finance and that the current crisis would be a good time to start. "It may be possible through Islamic banking, or something similar to it," he says, "to reach out to the subprime borrowing population in a safer way, in a way that makes the risks more transparent and allows better risk diversification." With or without the utopian theories, the constraints imposed by interpretations of a bygone religious law have given rise to a laboratory for different ways of doing business. Because of its religiously-obligated client base, Islamic banking remains insulated, in part, from the conformity that competition enforces on the rest of the financial industry.

Maurer agrees, but he doubts that anybody from the Federal Reserve will be calling up the muftis. "What I think will happen," he says, "is that people in the conventional finance world are going to arrive at things that may look more like Islamic banking as it has already been practiced." Advocates of Islamic finance will probably celebrate the change as triumph for their convictions, even if the resemblance is coincidental. "Depending on where you stand, they're right, or not."

Maybe it is time to get the muftis on the phone after all. In the United States, at least, religious leaders and politicians have deferred some of society's most pressing ethical concerns to the wisdom of the market. Calls that the "end of history" lies with neoliberal capitalism are being heard as far as the People's Republic of China. Not without reason, the 20th century's question of why free markets has been replaced, especially in the developing world, with how to get there. But last year's collapse is one more reminder that the market won't be our brother's or our sister's keeper for us. The shock waves of harm spread through global markets in ways that "love thy neighbor" doesn't seem to equip us for. Now is a good time to tinker with alternatives, and keeping an eye on models that already exist at the fringes of the global economy are a good way to begin. Peculiar conditions give rise to possibilities that couldn't develop on their own in the mainstream. Looking more closely at what Islamic economic thought has to offer, too, opens the door to more of the elusive "dialogue among civilizations" that leaders talk about but rarely do.

"Certainly asking questions about the ethical boundaries of finance is in order," says Ibrahim Warde, a professor of political science at Tufts University. There are any number of ways to think about economy in terms of right and wrong, but the Islamic case is different in an important sense. "Unlike other pockets of ethical finance," he points out, "it does exist in institutions," which are competitive enough to survive and available for study. Warde makes sure to add, "We should not go overboard, though."

Nathan Schneider is a writer who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He holds a master's degree in religious studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a bachelor's in the same subject from Brown University. Nathan blogs at The Row Boat

Source: Religion Dispatches.

  Category: Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society
  Topics: Economy, Islam, Islamic Finance
Views: 9265

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Older Comments:
And Michael, you'll have to wait until the next year of 2010, and as the first agreement lapse in 2011, yes, your government will ask for it's renewal.

And in return they ( Singapore ) might trade it for your Pedra Branca. By the way, it was not a 100% victory for Singapore in the island disputes, Malaysia secured the South Ledge ( island ) and may probably get Middle Rocks. :).

To both Samy and Michal,

Samy, why live in your perceived " apartheid country " if that is too much of a pain for you ?

Why not save the agony when you are free to go elsewhere ? I have no shame of defending what is right. This " apartheid system " that you claimed is a system which had been agreed by all. I argued on factual history without inclinations to partisan politics, for which I, am not to be in a position of any political party.

I respect the system in this country. Samy, which or whom are you blaming. If you care to look at the book authored by Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister, you'll see the narration of history that led to the drafting and passing of the Federal Constitution. All NGo's then, and the political parties that were consulted agreed to this arrangement and matrix of the structures of the Constitution. Including the MCA which represented the Chinese and the MIC which represented the Indians. And the other NGO's agreed to it. Why cried foul now ?

It wasn't the Malays that drafted the Federal Constitution, it was the Reid Commission. And Britain agreed that it was the best social and constitutional frame work for the then Malaya. And the United Nations RECOGNISED THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION and GAVE RECOGNISATION TO THE FEDERATION OF MALAYA as an independant sovereign country after it's independence on the 31st. August 1957. Malaya or today Malaysia was never chastise by the UN and infact Malaysia contributed much to the workings of the UN through it's agencies. That explains why until now, there was never an offi Why now blamed the Malays ? Were they not gracious enough then to agree to the Chinese and Indians be given citizenship ?

If you wish to debate on something then stick to the facts. You are afraid to read the Reid report because that's the truth.

And to Michael, since you don't take up my challenge then that's it. And to the water agreement, yes again I repeat that S'pore will beg for it's renewa


"Singapore will coming running and begging fot a renewal of the water agreement soon."

You are behind time. S'pore has officially informed Malaysia to allow the 2011 water contract to lapse.

You creep. The whole world knows S'pore doesn't practise apartheid but meritocracy. That's how we won back Pedra Branca. That's how this tiny, resourceless island can feed all its people abundantly. We compete intenationally through brains & brans not by stretching out our hands.

How come the per capita income of our Malays are higher than their counterparts in Malaysia & Indonesia where apartheid is practised. Strange but true?

We don't give the opposition blue black eye, detain them in prison without trial, witnesses here-today-gone tomorrow stuff, use C4 explosives, etc.

And please. This is the 21 century stop stop defending discrimination against your non-Muslim minorities. Whatever aticle doesn't give you the right to monolopolise the entire public & quasi-public sectors, the military, the police, scholarships, licenses, subsidies, rebates, land, places of higher learning, etc., over the last 45 years!


You don't have to shamefully defend apartheid in Malaysia i.e. Bumis vs Non-Bumis with all the priveleges & entitlements of the country going to the former, paid for by the minority non-Muslim citizens over the half century. As the Muslims continue to grow & grow where are the Santa Clauses to buy you the crutches?

Article 153 mjust be read with Article 8 on non-discrimination against the non-Muslim minorities. What abt subsequent one-sided amendments to the Constitution by the Muslim majority in Parliament to grab more & more?

Who defines "Malay" to receive handouts? Reid? Please. The excesses amongst you chaps from don't know where. The ridiculous classification means the 230 Muslim Indonesians who didn't migrate earlier to Malaysia also qualify as Malays (Crutch People). Right?

There are lots more taht can tickle your toes. But most importantly Mr so-called Mat Salleh Kris where did your ancestors (datuks) originate from? You are not the aboriginal indigenous Orang Asli (see Wikipedia) of Malaya. Don't be shy lah. Surely you are not Mamakthir who changed his race from "Indian" to "Malay" to qualify for handouts. Anyway, handouts are for beggars only.

In challenging Michael to a debate,

First I say this. I never mention that there's rule of law in Singapore. How do you define a rule of law Michael ? The Batu puteh island dispute is no proof of a rule of law. That was an international dispute among nations.

Singapore wasn't the first. Guinea Bissau had also a decision of international dispute on their side, but they didn't score a point on rule of law. Argentina and Chile had refered their decisions on island dispute, and so was USA and Mexico, on the island in the Gulf of Mexico, yet this is no point scored by Mexico or Argentina.

Michael, I presume, have no legal training whatsoever to speak on jurisprudential matters. You equation on rule of law is absurd, and in the process you make an embarrasment out of yourselves. You cannot be a mirror to your own country's record on rule of law. Don't embarrass yourselves please.

And again to Michael,

Please go and research into the UN agency on the Independence of the Judiciary and see where Singapore ranks. Look at Amnesty reports. And tell me where is this rule of law that you are talking about.

And Samy, I tell you what, you can yell or cry or weep. The articles of the Constitution on Malay rights and priveleges will be there.

Social contract ? Yes, every historian admits there is a social contract, it refers to the Reid Commission report. I bet you do not know how many hundreds of times the Reid Commission sat and met, before they arrive at a finding.

You arguments were based on raw emotions, angry and frustrations. Well, go ahead and continue to be frustrated, the constitution will be there to stay.

And please leave, may be in other countries you'll get the desired treatment that you want. Or may be worse. There are many Malaysians migrating once yet yearning to come back.

To Samy and Michael,

If you don't know the meaning of social contract then certainly you are an unintellect. And Rule of Law, look we look at case by case.

Michael, I bet you are not a legally trained person yourselves. The administration of justice and substantive justice are two different aspects of jurisprudence. Substantive justice, look at Asia Watch or Amnesty International report and see where the Singapore ranks. I challenge you to come up with finding on the independendence of Singapore Judiciary, it's far worse than some of it's neoghbours.

And to Idiotic Samy, the Constitution was framed by Lord Reid and the Reid Commission. It was agreed by all, a previous agreement as enshrined in Articles 150 - 160 of the Federal Constitution. People like you won't be able to amend all as the procedure for amendment made it impossible for anyone willing to try. You don't have any intellectual replies to my arguments, that established the kind of man who you are. a low intellect. And I again advised you to migrate.

And to Michael again, I reiterate again here, Singapore will coming running and begging fot a renewal of the water agreement soon. can you reply to that one. And you newater, it stinks isn't it ? Is it called a " juice from somewhere ? "...:}

Yes, Mr Kris Macpherson.

The rule of law prevails in Singapore. We have a good international standing in terms of justice being meted out. Check out the International Index for the administration of justice. That's why the ICJ calls it Pedra Branca and not some whitewash (puteh) stuff.

Fortunately, Ms Mongolia is not tried here. Otherwise . . . it would be inteesting to watch.

What rubbish 'social contract'? Where is the contract archived? Tell us. Inside UMNO's underwear? The rule of law please. Please don't cook up thrash that even the International Court of Justice will laugh. And just because you lazy bums just want to sit there, multiply and collect freebies.

The people whom you "granted" citizenship are dead and gone. Go to heaven to find them. Today, these are true blue bloodied 3rd generation Indians & Chinese who are here in Malaya longer than the hand-outstretched & tongkat (crutch) carrying Muslim immigranta from Indonesia & S India.

Hey mana lu berasal, Kris MacPherson? Bumi or pribumi berasal di-SINI. Ask any educated fool he/she will know the definition of indigenous aborigine. Derhaka!

And to ungrateful Samy again

My 1st. reply to Michael is directed to you. Don't question what was agreed by the founding fathers of this great country Malaysia, your forefathers had agreed to the provisions of the constitution.

You can blame Lord Reid if you want but that was the agreed social contract, there was give and take. Only those ignorant of history would cry now, but I'm not bothered if you want to weep like a cry baby.

And sinceyou praise S'pore so much, I suggest you migrate, provided you have enough capital of course. Or expertise. But my good guess is that you have none.

On your point that without S'poreans not coming to Johore Bahru, would make JB a ghost town, oh please ! And don't flatter youself too much Michael, and self flattery is a common trait among people like you.

JB existed long before S'pore was founded, there was already a capital of Johore at Johor Lama.

It is Singapore that would be hopelessly dependant for Johore water supply for eternity. For your information, the first water agreement will lapse in 2011, S'pore will come begging for a renewal of the agreement, now that they know their newater is too costly to produce.

And is newater hygienic, only S'poreans know best. I won't venture to try.

And may be since Samy is so keen to migrate to S'pore, one day if he gets too critical of the government over there, he would face costly libel suits, which in turn would bankrupt him for life. Good luck samy !

And I have one more piece for you Michael,

Singapore is well known for silencing it's opposition through libel suits and bankruptcy actions. So many opposition leaders had been made bankrupt in this silencing process.

So much for your self praise of the so called progressive republic.

Michael, before you jump to conclusion, I think you ought to understand the history of Malaysia better.

This so perceived discrimination or discriminatory laws that you are refering to are stemmed from a social contract.

Before independence, the British set up the Reid Commision headed by Lord Reid of Britain to draft the Malayan constitution. Before the constitution was drafted, there was this consensus agreed by all races, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tan Cheng Loke and Thuraisingam. The chinese and Indians then were not citizens and the Malays consent was needed for them to be accepted as citizens. In return for these, the Chinese and Indians agreed to recognised Malay rights and special priveleges.

These are social contarcts agreed by all, before the formation of the Federation of Malaya. The Malays agreed that the Chinese and indians be given citizenship while in return the latter agreed to recognise Malay special rights and priveleges.

So Michael, before you jump to any conclusion, do not be too hasty in accusing others of discriminatory policies. You are a Singaporean and have no loccus standi to do so. If those are not happy with Malay rights and priveleges, then the Malays might also well question the giving of citizenship 51 years ago.

Yes, I agree with Michael.

Without the Singaporeans, Johor will be a ghost town. Singaporeans spend billions annually in Johor. Just the toll collected is enough to pay the civil servants. Not forgetting the money collected at the few megamarts like Giant, Carefour, etc.

I happen to read "something that kiasu Singapore needs," by one Kris MacPherson.

Be careful what you say about Singapore Kris
MacPherson. Check your facts first . . . Come visit us and speak to any Singaporean.

For one, unlike Malaysia, we the majority non-Muslim Singaporeans don't have any LEGISLATED discriminatory policies against the minorities i.e. Hindus or Muslims. Compulsory National Service is for all able-bodied male Singaporeans regardless of race, language or religion. All this can be verified.

Unlike Malaysia where the uniformed service & civil service are predominantly Muslim Malays, there are substantial numbers of minority races in the Singapore police and armed forces though it is only a small regular force.

Number 2, Singapore's smaller than Malaysia yet we contribute more money annually to the United Nations for needy people & countries around the world.

Three, as neighbour to Indonesia we donated more than $65 million to Indonesia (Aceh) during the tsunami. Much more than Malaysia. Sa rumpun????

Four, we provide employment to 1000s of Malaysians who commute daily across the 2 links. We also employ thousands of Indonesian domestic workers who remit billions back to the needy country.

Singaporeans work hard and compete internationally for a better place for all because there are no tongkats here and we are not kiasu. Without Singapore, the above good things can't happen and the region will be a poorer place for all.


Samy, Anyone who sees your post can see the hate in you. Your replies bereft itself of rationality. I challenge you to substantiate your views by facts and statistics. About these migrations to S'pore and your claim that the Muslims in S'pore doesn't migrate over here. There is inter-migration everywhere with whatever reasons.

And for those migrating to S'pore there need to prove that they have capital and experise, something that kiasu Singapore needs, and something that jerks and irrational people like you don't have.

Again I ask that you do like what some people do, migrate. Yes, in that whatever country you so wishes. So that you are free to have your small demonstrations to vent your frustrations. I challenge you to migrate rather than moan and groan about the country that you utterrly dislike.

Finally Samy, a lesson on world history to you.

Is Queen Elizabeth of Britain an entirely native of England ? No. Her Majesty has traces of German ancestry. And there's a trace of Dutch monarch in the British royalty as well.

Is the Anglo Saxons the true native of England ? No, they are not. It's the Celtics.

Have you heard of William of orange and the Irish ancestry ? Is he a native of Ireland ?

The present inhabitants of Japan, the Japanese ? Are they the original natives ? No, they are not. It's the race called the Ainus.

The point here is who sets up civilizations. Which race introduce governments. Is Alberto Fujimori, the former President of Peru the native of Peru ? No, he's not. He's perfectly Japanese and even has a Japanese citizenship.

Are the present populace of South America the original natives of the continent ? No, they are not. It's a continent with mixtures of Spaniards, Portuguese descent. And of course inter marriage with the local Mayans, and other natives.

You are check mate.

Yes, they came first but they did not establish civilization in Malaya or Malaysia.

Therefore, they are tulen (original people)like the Red Indians of America, right? Now use your brains. If we also call the Muslim Acehnese, Minangkabau, Batak, Mandailing, Javanese, Madurese and Bugis from Indonesia as "bumis" (originals), Indian and Arab immigrants as well then the 230 MUSLIM INDONESIANS ARE ALSO QUALIFIED AS BUMIS AND BE ALLOWED TO COME INTO MALAYSIA.

"but not the quality of life, Singaporeans are a stressful lot"

Immigration records show that only Chinese & Indian Malaysians migrate to Singapore but NOT MUSLIM SINGAPOREAN MALAYS TO MALAYSIA TO ENJOY NEP! Why?

"And your praise of what you termed as " White Christians " are unbelievable. . . . the Christians that the " previous apartheid government " of South Africa are the white facist or Supremacsts who are Christians."


"The Jews were given a choice " Convert to Christianity or die by the sword ". And the Jews sought protection in Muslim ruled countries during the Inquisition."

This is the 21st CENTURY! DIGITAL AGE. People have changed. No more such stuff. BUT RACIST Malaysia is openly practising such discriminatory policies for the decent world to see. If you yourself don't like to be a "non-bumi", then why make others "non-bumis"? Because they are Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, etc.? Shame on you!

And when Islam took over Jerusalem, Salahuddin al Ayubi was the show case of a compassionate Islam

Samy, Please do not attempt to teach me history.

I have heard of this Sejarah Melayu, an old account of Malay history, which also stressed on the existence of the " Proto Malays " and " Deutro Malays ". The Proto Malays are what are termed as the first Malay or " Melayu Pertama " the orang Aslis, the aborigines. Yes, they came first but they did not establish civilization in Malaya or Malaysia. The Deutro Malays established governments, they set up kingdoms , sets of laws and practices, and customs.

These are part of the group " Bumiputras ".

In one post you have a high sky praise for Singapore. While I admit that Singapore GDP and GNP's are higher than Malaysia, but not the quality of life, Singaporeans are a stressful lot according to one studies, and the birth rate is declining and alarming.

Singaporeans go to Johore, the southern state,on weekends, to release and unwind themselves, their fast cars automobiles on Malaysian road explains all that. Once S'pore iconic leader and former Premier Lee Kuan Yew mentioned that one day S'pore may consider to join Malaysia again. Why ? Because he knew the limits that S'pore can go.

And your praise of what you termed as " White Christians " are unbelievable. You said none can match them. Well, let me remind you, without offending the Christians that the " previous apartheid government " of South Africa are the white facist or Supremacsts who are Christians.

Care to hear one more example. Read Karen Armstrong Book ( a non Muslim author ) entitled " Islam - a short story " on how ruthless the Christians crusaders were during the taking over of Jerusalem. They murdered, and the Jews were brutally killed and driven out. The Jews were given a choice " Convert to Christianity or die by the sword ". And the Jews sought protection in Muslim ruled countries during the Inquisition.

And when Islam took over Jerusalem, Salahuddin al Ayubi was the show case of a compassionate Islam.

Quite natrually!

ISLAM saved Europe from it's backwardsness as history shows right?

You guys used what we gave you (for free) and you all kick started your so-called renaisance!

So surely we could solve your self-inflicted financial quagmire!

Very sad, Kris. You don't even know Malayan history (Sejarah) well. I forgot you're a pseudo Malay. This is the digital age and info can be sourced from the net though not from our unranked universities. Let an Indian Malaysian teach you Sejarah and you can confirm the Malays around their ancestry.
Almost all Malays here originated from outside Malaya, but are recognized as being of 'Malay ethnicity' by the Federal Constitution. They are 'Malays according to Constitutional definition', that is of the religion of Islam, practising Malay customs and speaking the Malay language. Unfortunately, the Malay language was killed by the UMNO when it was renamed 'Bahasa Malaysia'.
Thus Arabs like Syed Hamid Albar (Home Affairs Minister), Acehnese like Sanusi Junid, Indian Mamaks like Dr Mahathir, Kader Sheikh Fadzir and Nor Mohamed Yakcop, Bugis like Najib (DPM), Minangkabau like Rais Yatim, Javanese like Mohamad Rahmat and others who originate from Madura (Indonesia), Boyan (Bawean in Indonesia), Badawi (Hainan), Tengku Abd Rahman (Siam), Burma, and the southern Phillipines are recognized as 'Malay' with little hassle.
Btw, much earlier, when the interloper from Palembang (Indonesia) paid homage to the Chinese Emperor Yung Lo, the emperor acknowledged him as the rightful ruler of Melaka. I think the emperor did so because there had to be a Chinese community (vested interest) here then and Parameswara appeared a trusted, just & impartial leader. The Chinese Emperor presented Parameswara with a seal, silk and a yellow umbrella as a symbol of royalty and also a letter appointing Parameswara as the ruler to its vassal state, Melaka. Parameswara returned to Melaka on the fleet of Admiral Cheng Ho. The Emperor then safeguarded Melaka, its protectorate, against the powerful Siamese.
Today the so-called Bumis are an assortment of Muslim Arab, Indian, Acehnese, Minangkabau, Batak, Mandailing, Javanese, Madurese and Bugis immigrants squatting on the Orang Asli (Red Indians)la

And one more thing Samy,
The west or even the USA are not able to help their admirers anymore. Just look around you, they are on an utter decline. Where would USA get the 3 trillion to salvage their oppressive economy, those of interest, usuries, giant capitalist banks which are instruments for monopoly. They are in a fast decline, and now even talking about food stamps.

It's too bad that despite facts shown, you continue to be in a denial. Of course, the west and US needs to salvage their economies, you need to salvage your misplaced ego.

Look here Samy,

Before you embarass yourself more in this process, I suggest you justify your assertions right.

In your post, all these talk about " Orang Aslis " and the Bumiputras are your expression of emotions, frustrations. You speak without facts.

The Malays were and are the rulers of Malaya, though the orang aslis came here first. I believe you are highly ignorant of history. Refer to all history books, particularly one written by R.O Winstead, or even the famous voyager Marco Polo. Marco Polo wrote about the glorious government of Malacca and the Straits of Malacca is name after the Malaccan kingdom those days. It's a Malay government. Even before the malaccan government there were Malay kingdoms in Bruas Perak and historical evidences found in the Bujang Valley fortified that. There was even a Malay Kingdom in Trengganu with the dscovery of the stone inscription, an evidence that Islam came here in as early as 12th. century.

Look at the book by Gavin Menzies, " The year America was discovered " he mentioned about the existence of a Malay kingdom.

I can quote many more books but why should I waste my time discoursing with an unintellect like you who write based on your hate and frustrations only.

Again I repeat, those who are not happy living in this wonderful country should pack their bags and migrate elsewhere, Sri Lanka perhaps.

You have no facts to

Can Islam Save The Economy? Most apt.

Well, Mr so-called Kris MacPherson we will all wait and see whether Islam can save the economy in Malaysia. I can tell you it won't be too long given the current the global economic downturn, the declining oil price & depleting oil resource, the bludgeoning Muslim population (you yourself confirm the high productivity), their over-dependence on government's handouts, state subsidies, the partiality of the govenment policies against the non-Muslim minorities, etc., Malaysia's days are numbered. Keep our fingers crossed!


Reply to Samy,

It is obvious that you write with hatred and dismay. You are lucky to live in a great country like Malaysia. Since you have asked me to inquire from the embassies, well why don't you start doing so yourself ?

I challenge you to substantiate all allegations about the country, where is your factual statistics ? Show me that there was 40% " Bumiputras " in the 1960's. It has always been more than that.

Yes, I know there are precisely 62% Muslims today but look at the Census Department report. The reason that accounts for it is that Muslims have proportionately higher birth rate than others, so stop compaining. Non Muslims are not keen to have big families, that's a fact. The number of non Muslims migrating to other countries does not account for the loss perecentage of their decereased population.

If anybody doesn't feel like living in this wonderful country, then they are free to migrate elsewhere.

Reply to Kris MacPherson,

Malaysia is the only country on the planet today practising a subtle form of apartheid i.e. citizens are either classified "Bumis" (Black) & "Non-Bumis" (White). The former being the Muslim majority from Indonesia, Philippines & S India who enjoys state privileges and entitlements at taxpayers' expense for more than 4 decades already.

Not all the non-Muslims are wealthy. Many have migrated to Australia and neighbouring Singapore following the implementation of the official discriminatory policy. The evidence - in the 6os, the Muslim population was 40%. Today it's 60%!

Indigenous aborigines or the native population can dictate to its immigrant minorities. Strangely, the Thais, Filipinos, Indonesians, etc., don't even have such discriminatory legislations by the majority against their own minority population. All citizens are EQUAL before the LAW.

What ridiculous right therefore have you to dictate and impose pro-Muslim policies upon the non-Muslim minorities when you yourselves are immigrants (the Orang Asli are the natives of Malaya like the Red Indians of America)?

Australia and the US for that matter being the first settlers don't claim to be "Bumis" and bully the other immigrants. People are not stupid! How on earth can you be a "Bumi" when you berasal (originate) from Indonesia, Middle East or India?

Laugh out loud. Little wonder Pulau Batu Puteh officially became Pedra Branca in the International Court of Law.

What have been written here can be verified by the varuious embassies & high commissions in Malaysia. So please don't try and BLUFF your way out. Period.


To Samy, the pot calling the kettle black,

I'm Muslim but I'm not indigenous to this great country. Ya, I perfectly understand this country well, I think better than you.

You accusation on this great country is misleading. There are a lot of rich non Muslims here, the Chinese controlled a substantial part of the economy. And Malaysia is the only country which permits venacular schools, the Chinese have their own systems and the Indians have their own schools, something that other countries will never allowed. I see the respect that the malaysian governmnent has accorded to the festive occassions of other races and religious beliefs, the Chinese have two days off for their festivity, and the Indians have theirs. I see Chinese Ministers and Indian Ministers debaing in the Malaysian parliament apart from a lively opposition.

So what is this apartheid that you are talking about ?

And the native aborigines of Orang Asli, I see no discrimination against them. I see some having high senatorial posts, they are educated, and an increasing number in the professional field. We even have an " Orang Asli " in the judicial service as well. There isn't any policy of de culturalising the orang aslis like what the previous white Australian government did to the " stolen generations " of the aborigines.

I see a good economy, and a government and a responsible opposition in this system. I see peace, stability, progress which is the envy of many, including you Samy.

I see Islam growing, and Muslims prospering. I see a country with a low crime rate. Hence I'm not surprised to see you green with envy.

Blimey Mike !

Hi Kris MacPherson,

You're from Muslim Malaysia? Then you must know Malaysians are classified into "bumiputras" i.e. Muslim immigrants from Indonesia, Philippines & Indians from S India and the "non-bumiputeras", primarily the non-Muslims Indians & Chinese?

The former continues to enjoy privileges and entitlements at the expense of the latter's taxes for over the half-century.

The indigenous aborigines i.e. the Orang Asli continues to languish in poverty as well.

Shame on you! Islam does not practise official discrimination on its minorities.

This is the only country with apartheid in cloak. Come over to Malaysia and check this out. Speak to the non-Muslim minorities in Malaysia.

What moral high ground?

This article is both interesting and extremely depressing. Ever since Muslim societies chucked empiricism and rationality (al Ghazli style: in favor of theology they have progressed slowly relative to most other societies. Now far too many Muslims learn the Quaran front to back, but couldn't tell you what F=MA means. So when other nations east and west take pride in their various accomplishments, the Islamic nations have fallen so far behind they don't offer much of anything. But their religion tells them they're the best, and thus some Muslims become enraged at the discrepency between the respect they feel they're owed and the assessment of the rest of the world.

So now there's a financial crisis and Muslims start throwing out "Islamic Finance." Is this anything like Islamic physics, Islamic medicine, or Islamic engineering? If "Islamic" means influenced by Islam rather than practiced by Muslims, then the extent that any of these Islamic versions of empirical sciences deviate from their non-Islamic counterparts is the extent to which they're wrong.

The frustrating thing is that the author identifies many failings in the dominant economic system. The experiences of Muslims using different principles and structures are potentially extremely valuable to mankind - both for the successes and failures. Their value lies, however, completely outside the realm of religion and entirely in the realm of evidence and reason.

You remove yourself from useful contribution to study and debate when you insist on Islamic-this and Islamic-that. The rest of the world wants the Muslim world to catch up in all areas of scientific endeavor. We want to respect you based on real accomplishments, not based on your adherence to religious principles whose good qualities are found in our own cultures and whose bad have left you behind, bitter and frustrated.

Biblical Christianity, applied on a individual and corporate level is the best long term solution to the economic crisis.

At no time better than now, can Islam show the world that it is an embodiment of divine guidance. At a time when the world is suffering from an aggravated financial crisis that is caused by the practice of interest (riba), a concept that Islam seriously prohibits; practitioners of Islamic finance are seeing the wisdom behind the prohibition of such an evil concept.

However, a lot must be done before Islamic Finance gains ground in the world. First and foremost, us Muslims, must galvanize ourselves to learn about it and help implement it. We must be willing to show the world that, we believe in ALLAH and HIS prophet(s) and thus their teachings. This we do by adopting interest free methods of finance. Secondly we must strive to implement this belief and make the guidance of ALLAH have meaning to non-believers by letting them enjoy the mercy and blessing that come from practicing Islamic Finance.

Imagine when a person can grow their business through equity and knowing that should the business fail through no fault of theirs, they will not have to pay anything back. They don't lose their house, car etc.

Imagine where a person does not have to pay insurance premium only to loose it even when they have never had to use the Insurance benefit.

Imagine when a person knows that the idea because it is great would get funding even if they have no collateral.

There are many such good blessings that can come out of a vibrant and properly practiced Islamic Financial Industry.

The test is for Muslims to stop being skeptical and get to work to make ALLAH's teaching come alive and to strive (against the challenges) to make it work knowing that ALLAH will definitely lend HIS support.

The teaching offer a way and IT CAN AND WOULD WORK. But it is for MUSLIMS TO STAND UP AND BE COUNTED by getting truly involved, not just for getting short term benefit but to SERVE ALLAH.

It is a great opportunity for Da'wa. Lets Grab it.

Save the economy of Muslim countries but let the west and economies rot.

Why should we apply the Sharia to save the economies of the countries that will sent weapons to gun down our Muslim brothers ? I agree with this article and with no respect to ignorant people like Romesh Chander, I say this :

(1) the USA is in utter decline, the recession was too much even for the so perceived new intelligent president to handle. Even as we continue discussing reasons for this depression, like I said before and I said again, this is ALLAH's wrath to the oppressive capitalist economies. Their interest, usuries, bond markets, the banking giants that help bigger companies to swallow small companies, Ha ! There you have it. You are facing the recession.

(2) Countries across Europe, there are demonstrations intheir streets, resulting from the recession. Finally these countries and may be even USA will be begging for Arab money and investments. There you go again Romesh, your much admired west are kneeling from bad times.

India, well, really I don't know.


Could you clarify how Bible chrisitianity is the solution to the economic crisis?

The author and I had some discussion on this
topic that readers may fine worthwhile reading.
This can be found at:

Sr. Fathima,
I 100% completely agree with your response. "Islam is the only solution to world problems".

But if we just sit idle and do nothing just like all the Arab leaders, we muslims will become the biggest problem of the world. Because all the nations except middle eastern countries are trying their best to keep their country, their religion, their people to the heighest level.

Look at our arab leaders. What are we doing? They can't even come together and bring one simple resolution to condemn the massacre happened in Palestine.

I think, Islam by itself will never bring any change. Its us muslims who should work hard to achieve the best goal/results in this world and hearafter.

God will never the change the condition of the people until they themself change the condition. If our leaders are impotent, do not expect anything good to happen to us.

Capitalism is proven to be in the wrong side of human being, similar to Communist. But, Religion 'Islam' has proven over and over on the right side. Our problem 'Muslim people' does not really believe in what we got, not by intention but due to our ignorance. Thanks Jonathan.
We need a book in English talking about Economy in Islam.


The best solution for the economic crisis is not Islam, but Biblical Christianity, applied at the corporate and individual level of the economy.