What's going on at Harvard? One can barely keep up with their obsession for all things shariah. Last month, there were four lectures there on shariah law, two sponsored by the Harvard Divinity School, one by Harvard Law School, and one by the Harvard Islamic Society. There were probably more, but who can keep track? There are write-ups about the lectures and lecturers here and here. The criticism of shariah at these events seems to come from Muslim professors and activists who've lived in countries where shariah law is practiced. The supporters for shariah seem to largely come from American-born Muslims, converts, and their so-called progressive supporters. How do the "progressives" manage to overlook the illiberal and regressive aspects of shariah, in inheritance, child custody, divorce, testimony, religious freedom and individual rights? I suppose the same way that international banking firms are overlooking it too.
Next weekend, Harvard hosts its 8th International Forum on Islamic Finance, April 18-20, 2008. Friday is an all-day workshop on microfinance, and a variety of topics are discussed on Saturday and Sunday. There's a "Video of Select Shari’a Scholars’ Views on Innovation and Authenticity (Exclusively recorded for the Eighth Harvard Forum)." I hope that goes up on the IFP website. Also Harvard's own William A. Graham, Acting Dean of the Harvard Divinity School, will close out the forum with a talk on Misconceptions about “Religion and Politics” in Islam.
The project director of Harvard's Islamic Finance Project is S. Nazim Ali. Interestingly, Nazim Ali is not an economist, his background is in computers (photo below from Harvard University Gazette article). Ali is also active with the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) and the Islamic American University (IAU). The IAU was started by Salah Soltan in Columbus, Ohio, and is a subsidiary of the Muslim American Society. Basyouney Nehela of the ISB opened an IAU branch in Boston last year, which offers online and classroom courses in such subjects as Scientific Miracles in the Quraan and Arabic language. MAS's website states that "The IAU board of trustees is headed by internationally renowned scholars such as Sheikh Yusuf al-Qardawi who serves as chairman and Dr. Jamal Badawi who serves as vice chairman." Jamal Badawi is the newest ISB trustee, brought on about a year ago. Qaradawi is still a proposed trustee of the ISB. Gosh, you just can't talk about any leaders of the Boston area Muslim community without getting into MAS, Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf Qaradawi, etc, etc. The linkage is pretty amazing. We seem to have many "underground Islamists" in Boston.
Nazim Ali reportedly helped former Worcester imam Hamid obtain a visitors visa to come to the U.S. in 2001 to attend the Harvard's Islamic Financing conference. Hamid (AKA Muhammed Hamid, Hafiz Hamid, Hamid Mehmud, Hamid Mahmud, Hamid Mehmood and Hamid Qureshi) returned to Pakistan after the conference, then came back and was miraculously apppointed imam of the Greater Islamic Society of Worcester. Miss Kelly readers know about Hamid's relatives (Hafiz Saeed, Muhammed Masood, Abdul Hannan), you can read about them all here. Hamid scampered out of the country in June 2007. Little birds have told me that Hamid was being investigated for visa "irregularities" and he decided to high-tail it back to Pakistan before any criminal indictments came his way. Work visa, anyone?
Finally, Syed Nazim Ali filed a lawsuit against the US government on February 20, 2007, because his naturalization application was delayed. It was filed in California court Central District court. It looks like the lawsuit was dropped in May 2007 in exchange for taking care of the application within two weeks (PACER file 8:2007cv00216). Why did he file it in a California court when he lives in Massachusetts? Looks like Syed Nazim Ali is a U.S. citizen now. Who will he bring over next?
Enough about Syed Nazim Ali and our many "underground Islamists," what about shariah financing? Why should we be concerned? It seems to me that Western secular societies have no business promoting a religious-based financial system. Why would we go there? It's contrary to the very core of our society, the separation of church and state. Why would we support a financial system based on a legal system that has institutionalized discrimination against non-Muslims and women? The answer, of course, is that there's money to be made, and Western bankers only see green. Short-sighted, to say the least. Deadly too, as shariah financing is no doubt financing terrorist activities.
Alex Alexiev recently wrote about shariah financing at The National Review, Jihad Comes to Wall Street. Alexiev writes:
"Critics see sharia finance as a massive subversion campaign by radical Islam designed to legitimize sharia in the West, to undermine our markets, and ultimately to imperil our free-enterprise system and national security — all the while exposing banks to financial risks that make the sub-prime fiasco look like a walk in the park. For its proponents and ideological enablers — such as the well known suicide-bombing advocate, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi — sharia finance is nothing less than 'Jihad with money.' As al-Qaradawi explains, 'God has ordered us to fight enemies with our lives and with our money.' Unfortunately for Wall Street, it’s hard to argue with the good sheikh on that score. Far from being a guide to ethical investment, sharia finance is indistinguishable from sharia itself."
There's that rascal Qaradawi again!
"Far from being a legitimate investment vehicle, sharia finance facilitates religiously sanctioned support for terrorist organizations — as well as providing radical Islamists with highly paid sinecures as sharia-finance board advisors in the sanctum sanctorum of capitalism, all the while that they are pursuing a subversive campaign to destroy it."
"Predictably, none of this is even remotely disclosed by any of the dozens of Western banks promoting sharia finance today, which obviously exposes them to huge non-disclosure risks ranging from fraudulent misrepresentation, to material support for terrorism."
Now there's a lawsuit I'd like to see: US DOJ versus Dow Jones!
"Consider the board chairman of the Dow Jones Islamic Index (IMANX), one Mufti Taqi Usmani. Mr. Usmani is widely reputed to be one of the world’s top experts on sharia finance. Whatever his stockpicking abilities may be, they are dwarfed by his jihadist credentials. A key executive of Pakistan’s prominent Deobandi jihadist factory, the madrassa Darul Karoom Karachi (currently headed by his brother, Rafi Usmani), Taqi Usmani has openly advocated jihad by Muslims in the West, and just last month again publicly endorsed suicide bombing and the Taliban."
"Since sharia-finance funds like the IMANX may invest in companies that are not completely halal — that derive their profit from interest or other sharia-prohibited activities — returns on investment in those companies must be purified by donating a portion of that ROI to charity. More often than not, it is people like Usmani who are paid lucratively to sit on sharia-finance boards in order to determine what charities will receive the sharia-finance institutions’ donations — and it’s a fair bet that the March of Dimes is not among them."
"IMANX itself is owned and operated by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), an organization listed as an un-indicted co-conspirator by the Department of Justice in a recent terrorism-finance trial, and the proprietor of hundreds of radical mosques and Islamic institutions in the U.S., including some that have been closed down by the government as criminal enterprises."
NAIT owns the Islamic Society of Boston. It just goes round and round. What a scam.