01/31/2007, 00.00
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Islamic finance and sharia, Europe’s suicide

by Samir Khalil Samir, sj
The plan to bring Islamic finance to Great Britain caters to a great bluff. But it is a sign of false European tolerance which is submitting itself ever more to sharia. The Catholic project alone can save what is good in the West.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – Islam is invading Europe, with millions of immigrants, but also with the millions of dollars of Muslim countries.  It was reported yesterday that the British government is preparing legislation that will encourage the development of Islamic finance. The Treasury Ministry defined this project as a “top priority.”
In a statement to AFP, Treasury Secretary Ed Balls said that it is necessary to ensure that “the tax system and rules encourage the development of sharia-compliant products” and to make the United Kingdom “a centre for international Islamic finance.”
Lebanon and Great Britain are also working to revitalize and create the most important Islamic bank in the United Kingdom. Both moves are certainly measures for attracting Islamic capital, but they are also yet another sign of bowing down to sharia demands, which show to what extent Europe has become a prey to the Islamization project of Muslim fundamentalists.
The British tradition of welcoming, the generosity of its asylum rights, its religious tolerance and its attachment to freedom and cultural diversity have made London the political and financial capital of international Islamism for more than 20 years. In fact, it is very easy to finance networks throughout the world, from a country that protects 4000 charity associations and some 50 Islamic banks. Zakat, the legal Muslim tax, amounts each year to some 5 million euros, without counting sadaqa, private donations. Furthermore, British policy is to not stand in the way of extremists, but to keep them under observation. Such a project is intrinsically irrational for at least two reasons. 
The first is that Islamic banks are a big bluff. They are based on the principle that the Koran prohibits loans requiring interest payments. Actually, though, that sacred book does not accept “riba”, loan sharking (interest was not known at the time of the Koran!). For that matter, the Church too condemns loan sharking.
The second reason is that the founders of Islamic banks – which appeared about 50 years ago – are two fundamentalist figures who were not well-versed in economics. They are Abul A’la Mawdudi (1903-1979) and Sayyed Qutb (1906-1966), an ideologue of the Muslim Brothers.
Not knowing much about contemporary economics, they made an enormous mistake, because they did not put inflation into the calculation, therefore a loan without interest always results in a loss. Their modern followers developed the theory that there is no interest, but rather co-participation, in Islamic banks. Thus, at the end of the year, the overall profits are divvied up. 
Actually, though, the Islamic world has always had to find tricks for repaying debts and interest. There have also been, in the past, big scandals, particularly in Egypt, subsequently covered by Saudi Arabia, to safeguard the Islamic bank principle.
Islamic banks and Muslim fundamentalism
This idea is in line with the fundamentalist project that sees the Islamic system as the best.  Initiated by the Muslim Brother and subsequently developed, this project derives from Islam’s humiliation vis-à-vis the modern world. Fundamentalists say: “Applying the Koran is the best thing to do and is our strength. We were the strongest as long as we applied it. Then we stopped believing in the Koran, we followed the West, which in return colonized us, and we became weak, in fact the weakest of all. If we give life to an Islamic state, we will once again be the strongest.”
In making room for Islamic finance, we should not forget that it is part of this project for the Islamization of Europe and of the world. It seeks to save the West from the moral decadence in which it has fallen, through the application of the Koran’s divine law. But that also means that such application also includes particulars such as stoning, cutting the hands of thieves, polygamy, the obligation for women to find at least 4 male witnesses in case she has to defend herself against accusations of adultery…
It also means respecting the hours of the 5 daily prayers, ensuring that mosques are highly visible with their minaret, respecting the rule of halal food, spreading the use of “Islamic dress”, i.e. headscarves, etc. The financial aspect is just one of these particulars.
Europe is likely interested, above all, in the economic element: “pecunia non olet”, money doesn’t smell, as the saying goes, and so arms are outstretched to Muslim sources too. But no notice is taken of the fact that economics is tied to politics and to the ideas of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism.
Europe’s weakness lies in giving in no matter what: in the name of multiculturality, the Islamic world is allowed to trample on Western lifestyle. For example, it happened in London that a policewoman was exempted from shaking hands with her superior just because he was male. But how will she manage to arrest a male thief one day? Or help a man in danger? In Paris, demands have been made in some hospitals that only female doctors and surgeons treat Muslim women.
In Europe, the daily agenda is hesitation, compromise, submission, all justified by the ideal of “religious tolerance.” Let’s recall the cancellation (for fear of offending Islam) of the Mozart opera in Berlin; the ban in Geneva on Voltaire’s play on Mohammad, the Mohammad caricatures in Denmark; the reactions to the Pope’s speech in Regensburg, etc. In all this episodes, we have seen that the West is willing to criticize everything, but not Islam. 
It is worth asking: do we or do we not have the right to criticize Islam? If the Church criticizes civil-union laws, etc, she is accused of being intolerant. Islam is easily accepted, even if it defends polygamy or stones homosexuals.
Tolerance, relativism and weakness
Radical Islam exploits this respectful and timorous approach in order to demand, affirm and create its place in Western culture. At the same time, moderate Muslims are not speaking up to say that Islam can be interpreted differently. On the question of women’s headscarves, for example, only a few have dared to state that these are by no means an Islamic obligation. 
Another issue is that of halal meat: there is no need for Islamic butcher shops, because the Koran says that meat butchered by Christians is halal! Yet, concessions are willingly made on Islamic butchers, separate meals in school and workplace cafeterias, etc. The fact is that all this is the radical Islamic world blackmailing the West, which, being weak, adapts and prostrates itself.
Such tolerance is the outcome of the relativism into which the West has plunged and which brings Muslims to say: these Westerns truly have no principles… 
The question of Islamic finance reveals on one hand the foolish idea of Muslim radicalism to “Islamize the economy”. But it also reveals a weak West: though having fought for centuries on human rights, it is now more interested in economic phenomena than moral phenomena. But in this way, the West ends up playing into the hands of radicalism and terrorism.
Europe’s suicide
A civilization does not die of old age, but of suicide. This is how European civilization is dying, in submitting itself to the rules of radical Islam that wants to destroy it. We can clearly say that Europe’s ailment is not Islam; its ailment is within Europe itself. The Pope has stressed this many times, especially at Regensburg. The European continent’s ailment is relativism, the loss of clear principles and of faith in itself for lack of an absolute foundation, as is instead the case in a context of faith. This is the real root of the problem. And the cause of this weakness is having excluded faith from the horizon of its search and its reasoning.
At this point, 3 projects are competing in Europe:
·        a secularist project, which has no principles, but seeks hedonistic well-being;
·         a Catholic project, with principles  – expressed in the Gospel and Christian tradition – that are to be constantly rethought and which proposes a reform of Western society, to recuperate what is good in the Enlightenment;
·        a radical Islamic project which has come on the scene through considerable blackmail and power to condition, and affirms that the solution is that of God expressed in the Koran and in sharia.
The secularist world looks well upon the prospect of Islam cancelling Christian elements (let’s recall the controversy on crucifixes in hospitals and schools), because it recognizes an element of its secularization project. But, the fact is that Islam seeks Islamization, not secularization. Islam rejects Christianity, but to substitute it was Muslim law.
It should be said however that the Catholic project is the only complete one. The secularist project does away with faith; the Islamic project does away with modernity, rationality and common sense; the Catholic project examines everything to retain what is good in the West and in the world. This project is more difficult, because it requires continuous discernment, not only on the part of religious authorities but also and above all on the part of each Christian in faithfulness to authority. It is difficult, but also more beautiful, because it is a humanistic project centred around the human person.
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