Sunday, April 16, 2017

What is the importance of Islamic Banking? Part 1

Note: This is part of my answer to Ara Belleng's  (UP student mastering in Islamic Finance) questions on Islamic Banking. I am not an expert in the field. This is just a 'writing out loud' answer.

The importance of Islamic banking can be answered from multiple perspective but is rooted on one basic principle: Maqaasid ash Shariah or the Goals of Shariah. Accordingly, the goals of Shariah are the preservation of faith, life, lineage, intellect and wealth. All of the injunctions of Islam can be traced to these five goals. Broadly speaking, the importance of Islamic banking, just like any other Islamic systems, must promote and not contradict these goals.

From an economic perspective, the importance of Islamic banking is not different from conventional banking. Banks serve as repository and transfer of wealth, of nations and individuals, engage in economic activities. Had there been no banks, we can be still carrying loads of gold coins when we purchase that house we always dream about. However, humans are ever prone to deceit, dishonesty and greed that beset both the ancient and modern economic transactions. Whether it is selling rotten potatoes hidden on the bottom of the sacks or some clauses hidden in modern buying and selling contracts, Islam prohibits Gharar or deception and uncertainty in economic transactions. Further, Islam also prohibits Riba fueled by greed. Lastly, any transaction that leads to haram is also forbidden. Consequently, Islamic banking aims to prevent harm and promote benefit to the society, both Muslims and non-Muslims. In a nutshell, Islamic banking allows Muslims to enjoy all the benefits of banking systems and engage in modern economic transactions without going against the injunctions of the Shariah – hence the term Shariah-compliant products. This includes personal and business financing, and opportunity for halal investments. This allows capital to flow, finance businesses, promote growth of small and medium enterprises, creates jobs and contribute to overall health of the economy.

All these benefits may affect the social and political domains. A nation with a healthy economy and strong middle class are probably amongst the happiest nation with stable peace and order situation. A common man, normally just want to put food on the table and provide a secure shelter to his family. Deny him this basic right, many resorts to crime and other unlawful means.

Lastly, Islamic banking may have a role in geopolitics. After World War 2, imperialism took a new form. Instead of the ugly and bloody military domination, control of a country and consequently its resources is done through economic control. The New York Times best seller, The Confessions of an Economic Hitman, revealed that First World corporations take control of Third World countries through Riba-based loans designed so that it can never really be paid, rendering these countries forever indebted. Thus, any action these debtor countries impose (such as invasion of a country) is surely not opposed, locally or internationally (e.g. UN votes) by the indebted countries. Theoretically, Islamic financing systems may rid these first world countries their economic weapons that led to wars and untold sufferings in modern times. After all, it is mentioned in the Qur’an that God called Riba as war.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Are Dutertards incapable of critical thinking?

N.B. I have friends who are non Duterte voters and I love them. This post only concerns those who generalize all Duterte voters as retards who are not not capable of critical thinking

These non Duterte voters think they are cerebrals? When in reality their minds are lazily wallowing in system 1 type of thinking. They are not able to weigh which is worse: bad mouth or bad governance? They are active participants in media's manufacturing consent. Do you think you are free to think? Without Duterte you really don't have a real choice. All other presidentiables are operating under the structure set up by the oligarchy. You are now in a world of necessary illusion thinking that you have a choice between Poe, Mar and Binay. No, my dear friends you do not. Because choosing any one of them doesn't make any difference. They might have different strategies but they have the same goals. Perpetuating Oligarchy.

If you are really cerebral I'm sure you know by now what I meant by #manufacturingconsent and #necessaryillusion

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Why Duterte still deserve the Muslims' votes?

As Muslims we need to denounce Duterte's unIslamic acts like cursing, kissing non Mahram women, and others. The Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. is our role model for a leader and he forbade us from such.

However we are a minority and the majority are not emphatic to us. That is why we need a national leader who will speak our narrative and champion our rights.

Duterte, in my opinion, offers the best solution so far for us to attain some form of autonomy in order for us to live our lives more completely as Muslims.

As long as the Filipino people are overwhelmingly anti-Muslims we will not be able to get what we deserve. They behave like that primarily because of the way the oligarchy powered media portray Muslims. Our bad image is also partly because of our own faults.

After the way the BBL was dumped by Filipino lawmakers backed by Filipino people, many Muslims lost faith in the current system. No President can positively affect the Bangsamoro issue no matter how sincere he may be if he will be confined to the limits of the1987 constitution.  A constitution framed and backed by the guardians of Philippine oligarchy.

Federalism may solve MILF-MNLF competition and may bring peace to our homeland.

This anti-corruption and anti-drug campaign is just a bonus.

That is why despite of everything negative about Duterte, in my opinion, he still deserves the Muslims' votes.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Why Daang Matuwid is not enough for Mindanao?

MRT - Luzon
Mamasapano Bridge - Mindanao

Like many, I have never been interested in a Philippine presidential election until now. As a Muslim from Mindanao - I am all too weary of the way the Philippine government handled the Bangsamoro issue - both the recent and the bygone. As far as I can remember, there had been no good solution to satisfy both the Bangsamoro people and the rest of the Philippines. Frankly, I didn't believe that there will be any in the future. I say this because even with the best effort of current Gov. Hataman, the poorest areas in the Philippines are still located in ARMM.

However, all these changed when Duterte finally decided to run for the presidency. I know he has many shortcomings both as a person, a statesman and as a leader, but deep in my heart I believe that he can make changes in the country more than any of his running mates. So for a Muslim Mindanaoan like me, this is the most logical and reasonable decision to make. However, I wanted to understand why a Mindanaoan or a Muslim in the Philippines clamoring for change wouldn't vote for Duterte? Hence, I am writing this piece as a mental exercise in trying to know the 'other' as I attempt to 'climb inside their skin and walk around therein'.

The way the campaigning has been done is to present a dichotomy of ideas. The candidate is either good or bad, angel or devil, clean or corrupt, black and white and no gray areas between. For the voter, this is the easier cognitive task, rather than having to choose a harder mental choice that all candidates have something to offer, though some of them are better or worse than the other. For the voting mind or the naturally lazy brain for that matter, a black and white choice is much easier. This is termed as 'cognitive ease' in the sciences of the mind and the politicians and their campaign managers knew this all too well.

After watching the first and second presidential debate, it dawned on me that these presidentiables do have something to offer to the country. Unlike many, I do not want to preoccupy myself in the negative images that each candidate wants to project upon the other - although I believe they are necessary at one point - because these can cloud my judgment regarding their merits.

Daang Matuwid is ok but not enough. I remember feeling some kind of relief when the word 'Bangsamoro' came out from the mouth of President Pnoy himself repeatedly last year. It sounded like music to my ears, that the highest government official of the land is acknowledging the Bangsamoro narrative. At last, I said to myself, I can already feel that there is a chance that the Filipino people could now understand and perhaps even empathize with the Bangsamoro. It was when the BBL was conceived in the Philippines' aging womb - a sort of late pregnancy - after forty years of courtship, off again - on again relationship between the Bangsamoro and the Philippine government.  It was somehow too good to be true until the Mamasapano incident reopened old wounds. Just few days before the BBL's formal deliberation in the congress, it has already died a tragic death that broke the hearts of peace advocates from all over Philippines. Whether Mamasapano was deliberately done for the abortion of BBL is subject to another investigation and as people say - when you are an investigating detective you don't have the right to believe in coincidence.

For the Luzon's intellectual elite and thriving middle class, Daang Matuwid seems to be really the right path to traverse. The economy is on the rise and graft and corruption is improving, we even have sent our own satellite to space to monitor weather patterns to be more prepared for super typhoons - to those outside of the Mindanao's grinding poverty and cycles of violence - this could only mean that Daang Matuwid is a road worthy of being continued to be tread upon.

However, the people of Mindanao cannot wait anymore. Because while the people of Luzon is complaining about the MRT, the people of Mindanao doesn't even have a coal-powered train to complain about, how much more of an electrically powered urban train! While the people of Luzon complain about a loss of wallet from the pickpockets, the people of Mindanao, specifically the evacuees don't even have a home to return to. 

For the people of Mindanao, Daang Matuwid might be the right way - pero matraffic parang EDSA, the birth place of Daang Matuwid! We are clamoring for a radical change in the way the Philippine government has been treating us for a century. Yes a Century! We have been treated like this since the last stand of our ancestors in the Battle of Bud Bagsak in 1913 and being annexed to the Philippines, until the brutal dictatorship of Marcos during the martial law. How many peace talks do we have to take? How many agreements do we have to make? Marcos had the Tripoli agreement; Cory had the Jeddah Accord; Ramos had the SPCPD; Erap was bullshit with his all-out-war; GMA had the MOA-AD; Pnoy had the BBL! For the proponents of Daang Matuwid, what can Mar Roxas offer this time after 40 years, six presidents and more than 120000 killed? The people of Mindanao are exhausted and desperate; and looking for a paradigm shift in approaching the problem.

The way the campaigning is being done - character assassination, negative ads and dehumanization of the candidates clouds the minds of the people including the intellectuals. It is easy to lose track of what the candidates want to do and what values they represent. Arguably, apart from his Yolanda's performance and Zamboanga Siege, I don't have anything against Mar. I honestly think he can be a good president. Will Mar's supporters do the same for Duterte? Is it possible for them to recognize his merits? Will they empathize with the people of Mindanao?

However, in my opinion, it is nothing less than a constitutional amendment that can bring peace, order and prosperity not only in Mindanao but for the rest of the Philippines. There might not be a utopic solution but federalism brings the best promise. Will the guardians of Daang Matuwid call for constitutional amendment when they cannot even pass the BBL?

Another lesson I learned from the debates is that the discussions are confined to a certain spectrum - all skewed to the Right. The issue of climate change, divorce, FOI are important but the debate is missing a lot of issues that beset the Philippine society today. If we are to grow together as a country we need to include the positions of the Left and find common grounds along the way. Even the issue of China is being predicated from a pro-western liberal democracy point of view.

All the other candidates are just somehow a shadow of Daang Matuwid: Poe would be Daang Deretso and Binay could be Daang... I still honestly don't know what Binay represents! :) It was just an increase of budget here and there; reallocating resources here and there, etc. etc. Except from a change in strategy all of then don't have anything new to offer. The Philippines need a change from a fundamental level.

A nation that truly celebrates diversity provides opportunities to all to prosper, offer avenues for grievances to be heard and delivers justice to the oppressed minorities. Unless the Filipino people - specifically the elite intellectuals and thriving middle class of Luzon - will empathize with the downtrodden people of war torn Mindanao, there will never be a lasting peace in the Philippines. That is a condition that only benefits a few billionaires and families. And this is why Daang Matuwid is not enough for Mindanao - and for that matter the whole Philippines.

Photo credits:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mulings about Bud Uwak

Bud Uwak literally means Crow Mountain though it is neither a mountain nor a place where one hears the raucous crows crowing, cawing or squawking. It might as well have been a place of counting crows before the time of Martial Law when several villages of Jolo were declared a no man's land whereby Tausug Men were summarily executed. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mango Farming in Jolo

Yes you heard it right.People from Jolo actually do other things than kidnapping.

This is probably an attempt - sort of an anti-media attempt - to present Jolo as a place where real people live, who yearns for peace and order to come back so that they can exploit the rich natural resouces that Sulu has to offer.

There are a lot of reasons why people in Jolo should return to farming. But, there are also a lot of reasons why they do not or can not.

Sulu is part of chain of Islands that is volcanic in origin and as such, the soil is fertile for farming. Additionally, it is out of the tropical cyclones (typhoons) areas that usually hit the Philippines.

Farming and fishing are the main livelihood activities although fishing is predominant because the Sulu Sea is one of the richest fishing grounds in the country.

However, there are vast tract of lands that remain undeveloped to produce varieties of agricultural products due to several reasons. Many people are afraid of cultivating the land because of the peace and order situation. Many a times, successful individuals may receive ‘love letters’ – a sarcastic term that refers to the letters sent by gangs to solicit for money. Rejection of  such may lead to harassment and threats of kidnapping and even death. More often than not, military operations against rebels and bandits make it unsustainable for farmers to invest in new agricultural ventures. Mostly, farmers just harvest what is already planted like coconuts or invest in plants that requires shorter time to plant and harvest such as sweet potatoes and others.

So instead of cows and goats being herd by farmers to populate the agricultural land,  wild boars multiply and roam about which makes the armies stationed in those areas happy, as it would make for a less fat and exotic meal.

Further, people have less access to modern technologies in agricultural practice. In contrast to other places in ARMM, I cannot even find a contact number for the office of Department of Agriculture in the Island. There is a great deal of poverty of information and this prevents people from diversifying their produce. For instance, Abaca and coconut have been the main crop produce of the island but the rest of Mindanao have already diversified to other more lucrative produce such as palm oil, cacao and mango.

Years ago, when my father was still an OFW, he dreamt of a mango farm in his native place Bud Uwak, a hill located just within the boundaries of Jolo and Patikul. Thus he instructed relatives to plant mango seedlings in the few hectares of his land.

Thus here we are now, a few weeks time from the first harvest. God Willing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What do I remember about Jabidah massacre?

How do I remember thee? Let me count the ways.

I remember my Inna, our grand aunt, (may Allah have mercy on her) used to scare us to sleep by saying "naa yan na in mawis" (the Maoist [rebels] are coming).

I remember Mimi used to recount her close encounter with the labud kind (millipedes) during their 'escape' from fighting between the rebels and the army: How she would shriek loudly much to my father's bewilderment for his new bride.

I remember an old picture of my grand father Ustadh Ghalib Jundam shaking hand with then president Marcos because of his effort for peace.

I remember my father used to tell us the story how the army massacred innocent civilians during a wedding including her sister babu Rahma who perished with her husband. This was supposedly a revenge act of the army when general Bautista was ambushed days previously.

I remember my aunts Inah Nanah and Inah Illang telling us that their husbands, including other men, were asked to step out from public transports at check points and that they haven't seen them again until this very day.

I remember Amah Papi (Dad's father) used to have hectares and hectares of farmed land including coconuts that were burned down by the army thinking that the rebels may hide in them. That before the war he would have so much produce he had to export lanzones and other exotic fruits out from Jolo to mainland Mindanao.

I remember our elders talk about the' burning of jolo', how horrible it was.

I remember migrating to Manila at a tender age of ten and being nauseated with jeepney's fumes so that Dad had to rent a Calesa to bring me back home from school.

I remember how my classmates in Saint Rita College asked me on the first day of school : How many have I killed already?

  I remember SPCPD during my college days when Nur Misuari and President Ramos shared nomination for a peace prize.

I remember Ustadh Hashim Salamat.

I remember I used to write under  pseudonyms 'Meem Aliph' and 'albangsamori'

I remember the Mamasapano incident and how senator AP Cayetano grilled Mohagher Iqbal, a man entrusted with peace by a large section of Bangsamoro people.

Truth is I wasn't around when Jabidah happened. It was after full seven years and seven months less one day that I was born. But its effect shaped my memory of my self, my family, my people.

Truth is my cousins were orphaned after the Jabidah massacre when Muslims organized themselves to fight back. Orphaned not because their fathers joined the rebels but because they were just randomly chosen as potential rebels. My aunts until now are silently mourning. Widowed forty seven years before the widows of SAF 44 mourned.

Truth is my grand father haven't recovered financially after the war. How until now, the orphans made by the aftermath of Jabidah, my cousins and even some of their children are working as domestic helpers exposed to potential abused by their employers.

Truth is we Muslims are still suffering from discrimination. That the dream of many Bangsamoro generations of peace in my home land are just like a play thing in the hands of lawmakers headed by an irate senator who seemed to believe he is fighting a crusade against the moors of old.

Fact is Philippines hasn't harnessed its full economic potential to develop Mindanao and its vast resources because of instability in the region.

I remember Jabidah massacre at this very moment because in front of me is an empty bottle of soft drink. Particularly the fact that I don't have to pay for its deposit. Ahh I'm not in the Philippines where I have to pay for its deposit. I'm an OFW because my resource rich homeland cannot sustain me and my family. It reminds me that I am separated from my parents. It reminds me of Jabidah massacre.