By Ishola Balogun
The Muslim Congress (TMC) has joined other sister Islamic organisations, civil societies and advocates of Non-interest/Islamic Banking in Nigeria while also condemning the campaign against the planned introduction of it by some Christian groups.
The group led by Luqman AbdurRaheem, The Muslim Congress said: “it is strange that religious groups, who ideally should be spreading morals, ethical businesses, engendering divine principles and winning souls for God in a perverted society are in the forefront of campaing against what will benefit a lot of Nigerians while also commending the efforts of eminent scholars like Dr. Ishaq Lakin Akintola of MURIC, Mr. Kamor Disu of MPAC, Dr. AbdulLateef Adegbite (CON), Secretary-General, Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and others for throwing more light on the issue.
Abdur Raheem stated that Islamic banking is not being smuggled into Nigeria; it is a working model in all advanced democracies, including America as it was believed by those campaigning against it.
“Nigeria is a multi-religious society that adopted officially three major religions. The Constitution allows for freedom of religion, conscience and liberty within the ambit of the laws. Islamic banking has foundation in the Laws of Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
He added that the foundation of this antagonism, when viewed critically is intolerance, hidden agenda and hatred for Islam and Muslims by the leadership of the Christians in Nigeria.
The Ameer of the congress stressed that mischief makers under the guise of different Christian associations have continued to oppose globally acknowledged Islamic developmental models (like banking, insurance, ethical investment, Arabic language, Shari”ah courts, affiliation with OIC et cetera) for reasons best known to them.
“We state without apology to any group that Islam abhors interest-based banking and transactions because it is antithetical to the theological foundation of the religion. The Qur’an is the source of divine guidance, which Muslims must follow both in their private and public life, without deviation. With reference to interest, Allah says:
“Those who take interest (Riba) will not stand on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by devil leading him to insanity. That is because they say: “Trading is only like interest,’’ whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden interest.
Allah will destroy interest and will give increase for charity. And Allah likes not the disbelievers, sinners.” Qur”an 2: 275-276
Quoting from the Bible, the Ameer said: “We wonder if the Nigerian Clergymen are familiar with their religious history with regard to fight again interest and usurious dealings. With specific reference to Christianity and Judaism, there are several Biblical injunctions which prohibit the act of giving and collection of interest. God instructed the Jews and Christians thus:
“Thou shall not lend to thy brother money to usury, nor corn, nor any other thing, but to the stranger. To thy brother thou shall lend that which he wanted, without usury: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all thy works in the land, which thou shall go into posses. (Deut23:19-20).
“”Take not usury of him nor more than thou gavest. Fear thy God that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shall not give money upon usury, nor exact of him any increase of fruits (Levit 25: 36-37).””
“”If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor, that dwelleth with thee: thou shall not be hard upon them as an extortioner, nor oppress them with usuries. (Exodus 25: 25).””
“And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thanks are that to you? For the sinners also lend to sinners, for to receive as much…… Love ye your enemies: do good, and lend, hoping for nothing thereby: and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the sons of the Highest……” (Luke 6: 34-35)
He therefore said no group should deny Nigerian Muslims their rights. Asking rhetorically: How is the Islamic banking system a threat to the Nigerian secular status or Christian interest? Are they aware that the regulatory framework for non-interest banking was conceived and initiated by Professor Charles Soludo, former Central Bank Governor who considered it as a veritable alternative to conventional banking model.
The Muslim Congress however enjoined Nigerian Christians to be tolerant and objective in their reaction to Islamic norms and ideals adding that the Muslims in Nigeria genuinely need Islamic banks to purify their wealth, investment outlets and safeguard their hereafter.
“The fact that others do not need non-interest banking does not mean that they should stand in the way of the Muslims. People read religion into everything but claim that it is not religion when they wish to do mischief. What the Muslims are asking for is not a favour but Allah-given right, which is also constitutionally guaranteed and is also in tandem with the United Nations human rights principles of which Nigeria is a strong advocate.”
Going down memory lane, Abdur Raheem said it is also on records that when OIC offered Nigeria non-interest loan, some sets of theologians condemned the worthy proposal and discouraged the Federal Government through media outburst and blackmails. Thereafter, Nigeria opted for IMF loan with its killing and inhuman compounded interest.
The option of IMF loan worsened the nation’s debt; increased the debt burden and created serious financial crisis. President Olusegun Obasanjo captured the predicament of Nigeria over the IMF loan and its merciless interest rate thus: “All that we had borrowed up to 1985 was around $5 billion, and we have paid about $16 billion; yet we are still being told that we owe about $28 billion.
That $28 billion came about because of the injustice in the foreign creditors’ interest rates. If you ask me what the worst thing in the world is, I will say it is interest”! This is partly one of the rationales why Nigerian Muslims like their counterparts globally loath interest-yielding investment, financial securities and banking; they prefer instead non-interest banking and finance.