by Christopher W. Holton
This morning, 12 May 2016, taxpayer-subsidized National Public Radio ran what amounts to a three and a half minute advertorial for Shariah-compliant banking, specifically a Shariah-compliant bank that will be familiar to long-time readers of Shariah Finance Watch: University Islamic of Michigan.
What we find particularly enlightening about the NPR segment is the complete absence of any mention whatsoever of the word “Shariah.”
This certainly cannot be an accident. Why would NPR choose not to make any mention of the word Shariah, when University Islamic’s entire operation is based on Shariah-compliance, as featured prominently on the firm’s web page:
Could it be that someone at NPR realized that “Shariah” might be controversial, so it would be better not to mention it? Is THAT journalism?
The segment sure doesn’t sound like a news piece. It sounds more like paid advertising.
For the non-Muslims of America, it is vital that we all know that the whole purpose of Shariah-compliant finance is to promote Shariah and prominent practitioners of Shariah-compliant finance and banking have described them as “missionary” operations and even “dawah,” which is essentially pre-violent Jihad.
We certainly wouldn’t expect an outfit like NPR to dig into the ugly undercarriage of “Islamic finance,” as Shariah-compliant finance is so frequently and euphemistically called, so we will do it here.
The NPR piece mentions that customers are taking out Shariah-compliant home loans that don’t charge interest (though, again, they don’t use the term Shariah). It would have been much more responsible journalism to look into that aspect of Shariah banking. NPR does in fact point out that some “Muslim scholars” don’t approve of these mechanisms. What NPR meant was that Shariah scholars who advise Shariah-compliant financial institutions on their Shariah Advisory Boards recognize that these arrangements are really just interest by another name.
In fact, despite the ban on interest that Shariah-compliant mortgages profess to observe, they actually replace that interest with a carefully constructed series of fees and charges which the IRS views enough like interest to allow the interest deduction on such mortgages for income tax purposes!
We would like to have heard NPR ask University Islamic chief Stephen Ranzini if his customers take an interest deduction on those Shariah mortgages.
We first came across University Islamic way back in 2009, shortly after your author took over SFW.
It’s important to point out that University Islamic has had some Shariah scholars and organizations involved in its evolution that warrant scrutiny. Those people and organizations appear on their web site:
One of them is Sheikh Yusuf DeLorenzo, who is first among University Islamic’s Shariah advisors. After dropping out of college at Cornell and leaving America in his late teens, DeLorenzo’s training was entirely in Deobandi Islam. He studied at a madrassa called Jamia Uloom Islamia in Binori Town, Karachi, Pakistan.
According to a study of Karachi madrassas by the International Crisis Group (ICG), a human rights think tank in Brussels, the Jamia Islamia is the “fountainhead of Deobandi militancy countrywide” and “boasts close ties with the Taliban.”
Later, DeLorenzo served as an advisor on Islamic education in the administration of Pakistani strong man Zia al-Haq, the man who put together the network of madrassas that eventually produced the Taliban and other militant groups, such as Harkat ul-Mujahideen, Jaish-e Muhammad, and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. General Zia oversaw the Islamization of Pakistan and the country’s subsequent, inevitable decline.
More recently, here in the United States, DeLorenzo served as the Director of Education of the Islamic Saudi Academy in northern Virginia, a school that issued textbooks promoting the Shariah practices of killing adulterers and Muslim apostates.
Perhaps most troubling, DeLorenzo made some pretty revealing statements in a 2009 article in Foreign Policy magazine in which he admitted that Shariah-Compliant Finance was in fact a means of promoting Shariah:
“…competition is fueling even grander aspirations among scholars such as DeLorenzo. Islamic finance, he says, is not just a way for Muslims to turn an honest profit; it is the vehicle that will make Islamic law relevant for the 21st century, a far cry from debates over “marrying and burying” that dominated his own madrasa education in the 1970s.”
University Islamic’s web site declares that its Shariah advisors adhere to the standards and practices of the Accounting and Auditing Organization of Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). University Islamic also is a member of AAOIFI:
This association is also interesting.
AAOIFI lists the prominent Shariah scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani as the chair of its Shariah Advisory Board.
Usmani is one of the most prolific Shariah scholars in the world of finance. He receives compensation from dozens of banks and investment firms.
Before cashing in with the private sector, Usmani was a Shariah judge on the Supreme Court of Pakistan for 20 years.
Usmani is also a complete Jihadist.
In September 2001, Usmani was part of a small delegation of clerics known to be sympathetic to the Taliban in Afghanistan and travelled there to ostensibly convince Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, to turn over Osama Bin Laden to the United States. Information leaked later by some of the clerics present at the meeting indicates that the delegation may have, in fact, tried to stiffen the Taliban’s will to resist.
Usmani is a prolific writer in Urdu, Arabic and English, having published dozens of books and countless articles.
Among his books available in English is a vitriolic attack on Christianity called “What is Christianity” and a broadside against the West and modernity called “Islam and Modernism.”
Here is one particularly revealing quote from “Islam and Modernism:”
“Killing is to continue until the unbelievers pay jizyah (subjugation tax) after they are humbled or overpowered.”
Usmani is well-known for his uncompromising views on the mandatory nature of conducting offensive jihad against non-Muslims “in order to establish the supremacy of Islam” worldwide.
Usmani also complained bitterly at the lack of martyrs to combat American forces in Iraq:
“No one is found having any desire of Shahadah (martyrdom). How many mothers are there who want to sacrifice their sons for the cause of Islam? How many sisters are there who want to say goodbye to their brothers departing to wage jihad against non-believers?”
Usmani referred to Americans in Iraq as “stinking atheists” and “the worst ever butchers and vultures of the world” who are “clawing off the flesh of bodies of innocent Iraqi Muslims.”
According to what Usmani has said and written, aggressive jihad against unbelievers is an Islamic obligation and, as such, does not need any justification.
“For a non-Muslim state to have more pomp and glory than a Muslim state itself is an obstacle, therefore to shatter this grandeur is among the greater objectives of jihad.”
Under Pakistani dictator General Zia al-Haq (1977-1988), the same man Sheikh DeLorenzo advised, who was also a zealous advocate of Shariah, Usmani played a key role in the introduction of the Shariah-based punishment code known as the Huddud Ordinance, as well as blasphemy laws and other Shariah injunctions, to the huge detriment of Pakistani justice and civil liberties to this day.
Men like Usmani and DeLorenzo form the foundation of the industry in which University Islamic pedals its wares. This alone should be troubling and should at least attract the curiosity of journalists. Then again, I’m not sure the folks at NPR can be properly termed “journalists.”
This brings us back to Stephen Ranzini, the head of University Financial. The NPR interview was not the first interview that Ranzini has conducted.
Back in 2009, a skeptical blogger questioned Ranzini forcefully about his decision to enter the world of Shariah. Ranzini’s responses boggle the mind, particularly this statement:
“One only needs to go to England to see the consequences of marginalizing Muslim citizens. Some of them then do stupid things like build bombs.”
This was Ranzini’s target market that he was talking about!
To read more of that decidedly more critical interview of Ranzini, visit our previous postings on the subject: