by Andrew C. McCarthy
National Review Online
LEGITIMIZING FINANCIAL JIHAD
But no, the Kagans tell us, they’re not endorsing all of sharia. Of course they don’t mean to abet the sundry cruelties and the systematic abuse of women, homosexuals, apostates, and non-Muslims. They simply want believing Muslims to be able to participate in our markets without transgressing what they see as sharia’s worthy prohibition against the payment of interest in financial transactions.
Right. What they actually want, like Harvard wants, is to get their mitts on Gulf petrodollars. But even if we take their protestations at face value, they are wrong in every way. To begin with, sharia is not a Chinese restaurant menu, inviting you to pick one from column A and one from column B. It is the indivisible legal framework for a comprehensive socio-political and economic system: Islam. In that system, the state regulates all aspects of human life and seeks forever to expand its dominions.
As Daniel Pipes recounts in reviewing the important work of Duke’s Timur Kuran, sharia-compliant finance (SCF) is the mid-20th-century brainchild of the Islamist intellectual Abu-Ala Mawdudi. His motive, the very antithesis of ecumenical inclusiveness, was economic jihad. As Pipes puts it, Mawdudi sought “to minimize relations with non-Muslims, strengthen the collective sense of Muslim identity, extend Islam into a new area of human activity, and modernize without Westernizing.” In effect, SCF is the financial iteration of sharia’s overriding objective: to insulate and fortify the umma for inter-civilizational battle…
Kagan and other apologists for SCF would absolve themselves from the real-world consequences of their allegedly well-intentioned diversity fetish. But legitimizing any aspect of sharia is the endorsement of all of it. Moreover, there is no cut-and-dried separation of sharia brutality from the tidy, white-collar world of financial transactions.
To pull off the SCF chicanery, financial institutions hire as advisers Islamic clerics who are expert in Muslim jurisprudence — there being, again, no separation between divine edicts and the secular law in Islam. It is those clerics, many of them Islamists, who decide what transactions are permissible. And very often, to purge the taint, prohibited interest payments are diverted to Islamic “charities.” It all sounds wonderful . . . except for what they don’t tell you: The major schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach that support for violent jihad is a legitimate form of charitable giving.
Indeed, as the Middle East Forum’s Raymond Ibrahim observes, the Koran actually prioritizes the need to fund jihad over the need to fight it. (See, e.g., Sura 9:41: “Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah!”) In a canonical hadith, Mohammed confers on the financial backer the same glorious status as the mujahid fighter: “He who equips a raider so he can wage jihad in Allah’s path . . . is himself a raider.”…