Lets pay heed: Abdul Hakim Murad

O you who believe! Let not your
wealth nor your children distract
you from remembrance of Allah.
Those who do so, they are the
losers. ( 63:9)
This verse in the Qur’an is an
invitation for humanity to make a
relatively small effort in this
world, in return for the eternal
reward of the hereafter. It is a
call to save ourselves from
becoming fixated on our wealth
and on providing our children
with the latest gadget and
games, which ultimately are mere
distractions from our
remembrance of the creator.
But humans are short-termist;
we think primarily of our
pleasures now rather than the
harmony and serenity of the
world to come. Chapter 102 of
the Qur’an says that we are
distracted by competing in
worldly increase, until we finally
end up in our graves where we
will be questioned about our
excesses.
Does this mean that it is wrong
to own things? Of course not, as
money and offspring can be
positive things in the life of a
believer, and we do of course
have basic needs which need to
be met. But we must remember
that the pleasures of
consumption are quickly gone,
while lasting benefit comes only
from using our wealth to uphold
the rights of others; namely the
orphan, the traveller, and the
needy. Wealth is thus truly ours
only once it has been given away.
Those who are genuinely
distracted by worldly increase,
and who make it an end in and
of itself rather than as a means
towards something better are in
effect guilty of a form of idolatry.
Ours is an age that has made
idols of the great banks and
finance houses, driven to frenzy
by competition amongst
billionaires who are kept awake
at night by the thought that a
rival might make a business deal
more quickly than them. A
banker who can asset strip
companies and throw its
employees out onto the street is
someone who is in the grip of an
obsession that has thrown him
beyond of the normal frontiers of
humanity.
Neo-classical economics has
traditionally focused on four
things: land, labour, capital and
money, the first three of which
are finite, while the fourth,
money, is theoretically infinite,
and is therefore where human
greed has been particularly
focussed. Thus arose a system
where someone could, with
approval, set up a bank with only
£1, and then lend £100 using
property and other assets
promised by others as security.
The lender now has £100
including interest, which they
earned by just sitting there and
doing nothing. On the basis of
this £100, they can then lend
£1000, and on and on, until the
cancerous growth lubricated by
greed becomes so huge that it
leads to a fundamental
breakdown in the system. Such a
system based on usury, with
interest as the bizarre “price of
money” which itself becomes a
commodity, was once prohibited
by all faiths. People had a simple
and natural intuition that the
commoditisation of a
measurement of value would
open the door to trading in
unreal assets, and ultimately to a
model of finance that would
destroy natural restraints and
even, potentially, the planet.
In the classical Islamic system, by
contrast, money is the substance
of either gold or silver. With a
tangible and finite asset being
the only measure of value, there
is a great deal more certainty
about the value of assets and the
price of money. This basic
wisdom was though not just a
theoretical ideal; it succeeded.
Muslim society at its height was
mercantile, and it was successful.
Never was money assigned its
own value and never was it seen
as an end in and of itself.
Since the abolition of the gold
standard however, theoretical
limits on the price of money
were removed. Last year’s
meltdown, whose final
consequences were
unguessable, was a sign of the
inbuilt dangers of a usurious
world. Humans are naturally
short-termist but in times of
crisis we must take stock. As
with the related environmental
crisis, now is the time to be
smarter and more self-restrained.
The believer is in any case allergic
to the mad amassing of wealth,
since he or she expects true
happiness and peace only in the
remembering of God and in the
next world.
Now is the time to think seriously
about finding an economic
system to replace the one whose
dangers have just been revealed.
Upon the conquest of Mecca, a
verse of the Qur’an was revealed
commanding people to give up
what remained of their interest-
based transactions, upon which
a new system based on the value

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