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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Discourse 320. Nigerian Bishops and Islamic Banking, Plus the Missing Link

Discourse 320
By Aliyu U. Tilde

Nigerian Bishops and Islamic Banking, Plus the Missing Link

I will not be surprised if this essay is short in the end because honestly there is little to add to the blind statements circulated daily around the country in the name of ‘debate’ about ‘Islamic’ banking, which the country, we are told, must ditch for the sake of its ‘unity’. The whole wahala about Islamic banking is mounted on the defective tripod of debate, Islam and unity, which are poorly joined by the clandestine glue of self-interest.

Debate is about objective reasoning. But there is no reason in this one, much less objectivity, at least not to my hearing so far. The speakers opposing the motion of Islamic banking have failed to make a single point, economic or constitutional. Instead, they flaunt threats, as if intimidation will earn them the points which only reason could accord.

There are also reservations about the characterization of the interest-free banking as ‘Islamic’. Many learned people, including some prominent Muslim scholars in Nigeria, would readily argue that interest and usury are not synonyms. But even if we grant that interest is usury, then Islam is not innovative in forbidding it. Christianity and Judaism have earlier condemned strongly. Categorizing it as ‘Islamic’ also gives the feeling, albeit a subtle one, that the contemporary interest-based financial institutions, including the World Bank and the IMF that have aided the proliferation of misery in the world, are Christian. We must not fall into this trap of the bigotry. Let us keep in mind that the West has abandoned many teachings of Christ (blessings be upon him) long ago, just as the Muslims have long abandoned an equal quantum of the teachings of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Very bad followers of the trio – Moses, Jesus and Muhammad – inhabit the world today. Oh Heaven. Come to our rescue.

The third leg is the ‘unity’ of Nigeria that is often used to justify any self-motivated clamor. We have seen this before in the OIC question of the 1980s. It was said that the country would be divided if it becomes a member of the organization though Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Uganda and so many Christian dominated countries did not give up to the ghost when they took the OIC membership pill. Nigeria must be a strange beast, therefore. The reaction was the same when the country contemplated taking an interest-free loan from Islamic Development Bank. Again, the cry was Nigeria does not need the Bank since it is ‘Islamic’. It should take it from the IMF where, as someone put it, the country finally paid $16billion on a $5billion loan, and still owed the debtors $28billion. But it is cool in the eyes of our Bishops because IMF in their misconstrued judgment is ‘Christian’.

And now it is the turn of interest-free banking that is now a global financial product to reincarnate that blind dissonance. Our ears, again, are deafened by the fallacy of the 80s. Here we go again: ‘This is a plan to Islamize Nigeria’ ‘It is Boko Haram banking’ ‘Nigeria will be divided’. Evidently, a visitor from Mars will not fail, upon hearing these statements, to declare that Nigeria is a haven for imbecility and mischief. A simple survey of the so-called Islamic banking will reveal that it is practiced by ‘Christian’ banks in ‘Christian’ nations like Europe and America, the principal mentors of its antagonists in Nigeria. As if to silence the Christian leadership in Nigeria, the Vatican press published an article extolling the merits and successes of Islamic banking two weeks ago. Poor Vatican! It does not know that Nigerians could be more Catholic than the Pope.

I will plead with my Christian brothers that we the laity should not listen to our local leaders on this matter. Reason should prevail. It is high time someone bold enough among our brothers rise to the occasion and tell the clerics these simple facts:

“Please separate economics from politics, for God’s sake. Give to the bank manager what is to the bank, and to PDP what is to Caesar. Transact here, and cheat there. Mixing the two could be a lethal cocktail. Embrace the teachings of Jesus by condemning usury in all its ramifications. Follow the Vatican and establish your interest-free banks or let the Central Bank of Nigeria the breathing space to perform its statutory duty of issuing license of the same genre to whoever is interested and qualified. Christianity does not take its measurements from Islam. So do not make Islam to determine Christianity. Opposing Islam and Muslims in Nigeria does not always qualify anything as Christian. Christianity, like Islam, is a religion based on values, principal among them the abrogation of all forms of human exploitation, of which usury plays the major role in the prevailing world economic disorder. Not a fly would die in Nigeria because a bank or two have adopted an interest-free product as part of their portfolio.”

These are the words I am waiting to hear from the bold Christian who would publicly come forward and call the clerics to order. A Soludo who initiated the product, an Iweala that is respected even by the oyinbo, just any name they can trust. Why not a word from Jonathan? If there is none, then I cannot help becoming sick. Please check me at the emergency ward.

But some ‘Christian’ banks in the country cannot afford to wait for that brave voice. Driven by the Smithian principle of profit, every week one of them is approaching the CBN for a license for Islamic Banking. I believe, before long, all the ‘Christian’ banks in the country would buy the product to the dismay of the Bishops.

I join those who are intelligent enough to know that Nigeria will not break up for the sake of interest-free banking. It may break up, perhaps soon, but on different grounds. I will enjoin all well meaning Nigerians not to engage in the futile exercise of defending ‘Islamic Banking’ in the face of opposition from our Christian fathers. They should continue to embrace the Shafi’ite logic: the lion is feared though it is silent, but the dog is stoned in spite of it's barking. Let us not bark at any visitor to our house. He may be a friend. It is the statutory duty of the apex bank and I am satisfied with the quantum of energy it is expending to explain, notwithstanding the deafness of its audience, that it is not a matter of religion but business, unusual though.

Muslims must not confuse the clerics with Christianity or our Christian brothers. The clerics are billionaires. Recently, one of them boasted that he is a billionaire and that “there is nothing anybody can do about it!” Yes Bishop. What can ordinary souls like me do about it? My Christian brothers and me are not billionaires. We are only struggling to make ends meet in Nigeria. Aha.

The clerics, it seems, are in an unholy alliance with the interest-based banks to extort ordinary Christians. The banks are where the bishops and pastors safely keep, and profiteer through interest banking, the millions they harvest from their fellowship weekly. As billionaire depositors, how much interest do they earn daily? Oh! That is the missing link in the ongoing debate on Islamic banking. In a vicious way, opposition to anything Muslim serves as a lubricant to this extortion engine. It is expected to impress the followers and make them more susceptible to increase the returns of their billionaire bishops. Thus in Nigeria Islam has become an interest-free product of primitive accumulation that makes Mr. Bishop and Mr. Bank Manager smile every Monday morning.

Finally, when all is said and done, with the ‘debate’ on ‘Islamic’ banking in a ‘united’ Nigeria long forgotten, one indisputable fact would remain: both Muslims and Christians, in America or in Nigeria, are victims of the present free-for-all financial institutions that are based on interest and speculations. It should therefore be an area of mutual interest, not mutual discord. Fighting this exploitation should be a joint project for Muslims and Christians in Nigeria with common sense.

But I am sad to note that for many in my country Nigeria, sense is not common.


Bauchi,
6 July, 2011

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

Short, but excellent! A blind man thinks no one can see him as he himself cannot see, unless you touch him. Then he realises there are people around him who can see. Such are our Bishops and their gullible followers.

Please give us more!

Thank you.

Jan/John H. Boer said...

As a Christian missionary, I largely support Tilde's stand on Islamic banking and Christian opposition to it. I am going to republish this article on my blog
. The next post after that will feature my supportive response to Tilde's. So, log in for an unusual Christian perspective.

shehu sa said...

Simply succinct!

Umargarbai said...

Simply critical reasoning skills, i have been reading from my Christians brother, especially those opposed to islamic banking, they have yet to give logic into their arguments. Please Dr. Keeep it up!

Yusuf Salisu A said...

I waited so long to hear such a matured and meaningful response from our men, may you be honorably rewarded by Allah on this holy war, Allah agaza!

HISHAM I DEEN YAKASAI said...

Malam TILDE you have said it all,but small addition to what you have just mentioned is the fact that the financial economic meltdown facing the west today is as a result of the usury the modern banking accepted as a norm, and our brothers Christian Cleric believe that the modern banking since is from west is TOTALLY CHRISTIAN,which was wrong to assume it as such,is purelly business ! but dont the Nigerians have a right to have another choice ? a we not under the Democratic rule ? most we follow the status Quo ? The point is simple, if the New Intrest FREE bank is accepted by nigerians many will cease to be Billoniers,this call they are making has nothing to do with being a muslim or christain is purely busines, hope we all shine our eyes,Lets not hide under the Christian Religion JUST because you want smear the IMAGE of ISLAM,and my appeal to those clerics is they should stop antagonising anything islamic as anti chriastianity,let me just brush our mind on the Nigerian History ,The Nigerian Constitution was based on the british Laws and we should remember that UK is the is under the rule of the Queen of England and By thier Law the head of the royal family is the head of the Anglican Church in the world and Nigeria being part of the British "protoctrate" does that made all of us chriastians ? we are also members of "common wealth" which is also British under the anglican Church does that made all of US (Nigerian) CHRIASTIAN ? How much does Nigeria Contribute to that pool ? so please if Saludo was right by initialising this, using his NIne member committee(seven chriastian s and Two muslim) who gave the recommendation why should SUNUSI be WRONG BY IMPLEMENTING ? KINDLY ALLOW HIM to do his job ! and for you TILDE Thanks for this again !

mannir said...

An excellent masterpiece from Dr Tilde. I hope the 'ordinary' Christians will find it tantalizing enough to open their minds and think!

Sarkiyaki Mohammed said...

Elegant display of reasoning skills based on common sense.

Sarkiyaki, M.

zainab magaji said...

I especially love the part where the author suggests that to call non interest banking 'islamic' is to subtly hint that the IMF and WB blood thirsty ways are christian. Bravo sir.

Anonymous said...

Please educate them more and more so that they will become more and more enlightened.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

That was a very good piece DR. I want to add that even if non interest banking is 'Islamic', don't the Nigerian Muslims have the right to practice their religion or is anybody forcing any christian to open an account in an Islamic bank?

Da'i said...

When you want to kill a dog, give it a bad name. In no time it will wallow in the garbage. But the unfortunate Bishops in our country always think they can have their way by deceiving their followers against anything to do with Islamic principle in Nigeria. They are late. Soon they will start fighting themselves God's willing.

Ali M said...

The Islamic (non-interest) banking is not compulsory even for the Muslims and is opened to all. Like okonja Iweala said to the senate, it is aimed at accomodation a section of the population that have some difficulties with the interest-based banking system. If I'm your child and I'm vegetarian, I don't eat meat or other dairy products, won't you accommodate me on the family dinning table by simply providing more options or variety on the table so I can find something to eat. That is simply what the central bank is trying to do.

Anonymous said...

My take is anything that will help open the competitive space is good for Nigeria.

Alkasim said...

What a masterpiece,actually i enjoyed this article to the fullest.

Hassan Sabo Miya said...

Yet another astonishing one from Dr Tilde!.Keep it up and keep us informed

Anonymous said...

A missing link indeed!
You could have been bold enough to say that nigerian xtianity is but the reaction to nigerian islam

Anonymous said...

Very funny. Muslims are shouting Sharia Banking now they expect Christians to roll back and watch them. When Christians bring in Miss World contest to Nigeria, they forget that Nigeria is a secular space, they start fighting. When they introduce Sharia and make public facilities Sharia complaint, they forget that there are others who dont share their faith. When they ban adverts of beer and cigars in the north, they forget we do not serve the same God. Yeye people who know how to pontificate when they have something to lose. We are waiting for you to start bombing churches. This so called Sharia banking still takes commision o, as if commision is not the same as interest. Nonsense!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, some are complain against economic safe guard in an increasingly economic crisis world! this Nigeria needs more God's blessing. May God brings bank of prosperity with much ease. We are waiting to see how Okon jo will arm twist this again. Madam 12 billion dollars

Anonymous said...

A very good article that has captured it all. From both economic and global perspectives, I feel that Nigerian muslims should not waste their time in even responding to all what is being said. Rather, we should mobilise all and sundry including our christain brethren who abhor the current banking system to ensure that non-interest banking works succesfully in Nigeria. Let everybody act according to the dictates of what his religion preaches and based on his conscience. Truth can never be suppressed no matter how hard one tries to do that. Continue to share what God has bestowed on you with us and keep up the good work.

Adeiza said...

Each time I read an article from Dr. I will think this is the icing on the cake but now I know the cake is yet to be baked. Thumb up Dr!

Nasiru suleiman bantan said...

I agree with Aliyu Tilde.

musasqueezer said...

Yah..,really, Dr Tilde, common sense is not common. You can make common sense, common only by going to school to acquire education and as well, reading widely and making a comparative understanding,of phenomena, through the power of reasoning then will common sense be common. May Allah enrich you in manifold, may HE give you good health and long life. long live Dr.

Mansur H. said...

By reading this article, every sensible, intelligent and objective person got the message and the clear picture of the "interest free banking" not the "islamic banking". However, it is the interest free that make it islamic. THINK WISELY!

DR. IS-HAQ AKINTOLA said...

Immediately I finished reading Dr. Tilde's piece, I rushed to the emergency ward at the Lagos State University clinic. Alas! He wasnt there! Aso Rock should tell us where he is being treated.

Dr. Is-haq Akintola, Director, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Sarkiyaki Mohammed said...

Iam responding to one anonymous who retort to abuses simply because there is nothing left for his imagination. His argument suggests that Christianity tolerates vices such as prostitution. I want to belief he does not understand his religion well. Be bold enough to come out with reasons that can much the DR’s, not retorting to abuses. Let your imagination run riot and be creative. But i suspect that you might be one of the Bishops Tilde is referring to.

Anonymous said...

Nigeria have blessed with Human and Natural resources but utilize both is a problem every thing progress is criticize why? it is Ignorance, iliteracy or selfish interest in terms of Islamic Bank Wallahi idon't know actually the problem of this calamities.

Anonymous said...

I don't know till when Nigerian christians'll stop being victims of pseudo-sentiments of 'Fathers'... i really don't know! Dr. Tilde, help continue educating them, please.

Muhammad A. Kumo said...

Uncle tilde you do said it all may Allah reward you with the best reward.

Laubare said...

Dr you should not be surprise the way debate is conducted in Nigeria,because it's only in this country that we have had a one man 'DEBATE' so let them carry goooo.

Dr. Emmanuel Gwamna Msheliza said...

I totally agree with Dr.Tilde.
poverty has no religion and the so called 'bishops' are not representing CHRISTIANITY but themselves. Imagine how a former GMD of a bank bought A PRIVATE JET for the OVERSEER of his SECT.Just imagine the LOOTING by these ex-bank GMDS. He that has nothing to fear should not fear ISLAMIC BANKING.

Jaafar said...

This is clear truth for all to see.

Masamba Masanga said...

With all due respect, your article is rather long-winded and it still didnt hit the spot - at least not in the same way that Fela did with a few short lines in "Coffin for Head of State".

You didnt make your point strongly enough or clearly enough; I got the impression that you hadnt thought through what you wanted to say before you started writing ... which explains the incomplete and somewhat muddled quality of the article. And there does seem to be an underlying attitude or bias in defence of Islam. In other words, a strain of partisanship is discernible in your writing.

I thought I should mention it, that you might like to know.

Anonymous said...

This is highly inspiring. You have dealt with the issue with a good sense of humor that suits everyone. Continue the good work Dr.

Anonymous said...

my problem with some nigerian christians is the use of abusive words on islam and muslims whenever they make a comment on an objective article that does not favour their arguments instead of them to come up with reasonig and objectivity.

odirinwune kelechi laserian said...

That was a short and to the point. Well done Dr. Tilde. However, I wonder how people like Masamba Masnaga post comments without making it constructive, after criticising the article, Masanga should also constructively point out the areas where the article was not not balanced. we also expect him to go as far as faulting the Non Interest Banking economically and academically.

Abubakar

KENNY said...

One wonders if the writer of this article lives on banana republic. Sanusi shut down healthy banks because he wanted to introduce Islamic banking on circular and volatile country like Nigeria. It is only a blind writer like Aliyu U. Tilde that will be insensitive not to have seen the menace caused by Islam in Nigeria and in the world in General. He made reference to the UK and the USA, and I want to ask him, if people in these countries kill their citizens because of Religion??? How can a sensitive person like Sanusi who holds an exalted office in a circular country like ours introduce a religious bank knowing fully well it would cause problems. If JONATHAN as the president of Nigeria introduces a Christian bank which will be operative based on Christian laws and principles, will other religions like it??? Will he be viewed as being considerate and not one sided??? What then happens when a Muslim who does not share the same faith or believes with his Christian brother goes to the bank to collect a loan?? Does he {The Muslim} denounce his faith because he wishes to collect loan from the Christian indoctrinated bank??? The north introduced sharia law not minding that other religion exist there and you people can see the progress we have made so far with it{BOKO HARAM killing Christians and Muslims}. Let us not allow sentiments affect our better sense of judgment as any right thinking person knows we do not need a religious oriented bank in Nigeria for now.

Anonymous said...

Shamsuddeen! That was really rich and educative. Keep it up Dr. Tilde

Anonymous said...

a very educative article.keep it up Dr.Tilde...

Gambo said...

Some people in Nigeria think no good can come out of anything that has to do with Islam. It is high- time they woke up from their illusion. Thanks Dr. May Allah reward you for your efforts and grant you more wisdom.

Aminu Yabo said...

Thank you very much Dr. Aliyu Usman Tilde. Please keep it up!

Shamsuddeen said...

Thank you all for your various comments, mostly in support of Dr Tilde's writing.It's beyond that, that Islamic bank will not stand with out our fullcooperation and support.What I mean by cooperation is this living up to agreements.What I mean by support here is our patronage.Iremember when Jaiz came to the market the first time to raise money from the public,many of us refused to invest our funds then.I hope this time a round we are going to patronise the Islamic banking by investing our funds there and buying in to their products with patience,the returns may not be as high as what we normally received from the interest based banking transactions.For those of us that waiting to borrow funds from the Islamic bank we should be sincere with ourselves.May Allah help us, Ameeen

Hadi Ruma said...

kenny, your last two points exposes your antigonism of the interest free banking, re-read your post you have answered your sentiments.
HADI

Anonymous said...

I don't see anything wrong with interest free banking in Nigeria but I feel the CBN should have organized a workshop to enlighten the religious leaders on the project and who says the Bishops shouldn't scream!
These people have seen a lot happen in this country. What would you call a politically motivated riot that got only churches damaged in this northern cities and towns and Christians are been killed?
please Dr. I respect your contribution but if you read through this blog and compare comments made by people with seemingly islamic/northern names , you will feel the hatred and desire to oppress the others who don't have same sounding names.
So, I really doubt if we are getting it right living together as a country.
Nigerians take their religion 1st and every other thing second on the surface.
please Dr. do a survey of the comments on your blog and honestly advise on the way you think for Nigeria.

For me I think religion has made us to so hate one another that I feel we are just wasting our time staying together as a nation.

Yakubu said...

Dr Tilde, thank you for your article. i think the whole 'hair splitting arguments' on Islamic banking is tiring and i really wish we could put things in clear perspectives without being so emotive.

I will ask my Christian brothers if any Christian group was denied by the CBN from floating a 'Christian' Non-interest facility. If that has not been done and the Islamic form of Non-Interest Banking is just but a choice amongst others,then i see no reason to be so emotive on the issue.

For the Bishops ,i understand their emotion; the whole Boko Haram thing, killings in the north in the name of religion. I was in Kaduna during the Beauty pageant riots, Zaria during the religious crisis in the 8os and i must say i am very concerned how quickly 'Muslims' in the North resort to violence at the slightest provocation. Many have shown their aversion to a mixed legal system and will rather prefer a complete Sharia based society. these has informed alot of people's responses , so maybe we should be a bit easy on the anti-Islamic banking proponents.

At the risk of being generalistic i have seen many 'Christians' do horid things in the name of religion; including our Bishops and leaders. The Holy Scriptures remain our standard.

My only grouse with the CBN is the the way NIB was introduced initially.The initial gazette read Islamic (NID) banking, we all know that there are other forms of it.

I expected the CBN would have published rules for all forms of NIB(knowing our religious polarity), then whatever group meets the regulation for whatever form of banking can now be given the license.

Having said this , i will still implore for more tolerance on our part as believers of our various religion and for a balanced approach in addressing these issues on the part of the CBN

Anonymous said...

A good and simple analysis for he who is ready to accept the truth,u hv said it all i wll never west my ample time again reading anything concerning islamic banking debate,may Allah enrich us with more tildes, ameen,kp it up pls.