JAK: An interest-free Bank

JAK: A non-Muslim Bank with a Muslim Philosophy

I came across this interest free Swedish customer-owned Bank called JAK (Jord Arbete Kapital).  Working on the principle of “Not-for-Profit banking”, it neither pays any interest on savings nor charges any on borrowings – a principle it shares with Islamic Banking. JAK is fully registered, licensed and is operating since 1970. It’s founders were non-Muslims. It has 30 paid staff and about 30,000 members or customers. They saved a sum of € 97 million and borrowed € 86 million during the year of 2008.

JAK operates on the following fundamental principles:

    • Taking of interest is inimical to a stable economy;
    • Interest causes unemployment, inflation and environmental destruction – in some
    combination;
    • Interest moves money in the long term from the poor to the rich, and;
    • Interest favours projects, often large-scale, which yield high profits in the short-term.

How True!!!

The way Bank works is:

 1- Each member pays a membership fees (very minimal)

2- Members deposit money and earn Points based on the amount & length of time money is left in the bank

3- Members can borrow money, depending on the points they acquired

4- New members can also borrow money if they can arrange two guarantors

5- Loan can also be sanctioned if one can put their property as security. A property bought through the bank loan can be used as security at 75% of the actual value

6- There is a small administrative fees (1 or 2 % of the loan) on loans which is used for running the bank.

Taking an example:

–       Member borrows 12000 for 12 months

–       Member has to pay per month = 1000 + admin fees + 1000 (additional)

–       Member would have paid back 24000 at the end of 12 months

–       The additional 12000 will be returned back to the member at the end

–       This additional money is used to give loans to others during the year

Surprisingly there are very few credit losses or defaulters. It is inspiring because we the Muslims believe in interest free trading but could not manage to implement it anywhere (to the best of my knowledge). The Islamic banking currently in practice is all based on interest bearing banking model and makes up for interest one way or the other.  We should learn from this example and setup a real interest free economy. If non Muslims can do it why can t we? After all this is not a need, rather it is Allah’s Order upon us.

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Just Read JAK bank’s philosophy:

JAK’s ultimate goal is the abolishment of interest as an economic instrument and to replace it with other, less harmful ones, that are in the best interest of supporting its members in building healthy and sustainable communities.

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To achieve this goal, JAK works on two fronts:

1. Ideological: – To disseminate information on the ill effects the taking of interest has on the
economy, society at large and the environment and to inform of alternatives.

2. Practical: – To administer an interest-free savings-and-loan system to show that interest-free financing is not only feasible but also quite valuable in helping to liberate people weighed down with heavy interest loans.

JAK does not operate in any country other than Sweden, though they have helped others in different countries to establish similar banks. There is plenty of information on the internet about them. Please tell about this to people in banking & finance, especially the Islamic minded.

Riyadh Saudi Arabia (Dec 2010)

If Makkah & Madina are the spiritual centres then Riyadh is the political & commercial centre of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Ultimately it is the home & power base of the Royal Saudi family and Wahabi mazhab (religion). Riyadh is the capital & largest city of Saudi Arabia with about 3.5 million population. Yet the atmosphere of Riyadh is laidback and relaxed like a small city. There are only few skyscraper buildings, largely the city houses are two or three storey, built in grey or cream, the most common colour in middle east. (Click on photos to enlarge):

Al Faisalia Tower & Kingdom Tower (in the background)

The bottle opener shaped building Kingdom Tower is the highest building in Saudi Arabia (302.3 m), followed by the Faisalia Tower depicting a ball pen (266.7 m). Kingdom Tower is strikingly similar to the Shanghai World Financial centre, tallest in China. Is it a coincidence or….. Kingdom Tower started 2 years later!

 Saudi Arabia is divided into about 13 provinces and each province is governed by a Saudi Prince. Some parts are green where some agriculture is done, some are high hills whereas a large part is a dry desert. One such part is referred to as empty quarter. Petrol & food are quite cheap. Strangely electricity is available in two flavours, 110 volts in two pin sockets and 220 volts in 3 pin sockets. Why? Don’t ask me, I’m not Saudi. 

Riyadh City

This is the city where all the government offices are established. There is a district near ministry offices called Hara. This is the centre of Asian community. People, mostly from Pakistan, used to work in government offices and reside here. Now it is a mixture of Indian, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, etc etc. And as a result all sorts of desi foods, sweets & other items are available here. I tried Dahi Baray, QalaQand and Chai, truly authentic – as tasty & dirty as you would get in India/Pakistan/Bangladesh. 

A Big Mosque (under Construction)

Weather is very hot & dry. Days get scorching sun and nights get cold, as you would expect in a desert. I came here in November which was the best time weather-wise, nice pleasant sunshine during days and bearable cool during nights. All businesses close at prayer times. Mosques buildings are magnificent.

Another Beautiful Mosque

Talking to one of my colleague who is from Palestine, I started by saying “kaifa Haluk” (how are you in Arabic) just to impress him. He responded in perfectly clear voice “kia haal hai bhai” (in Urdu), I was left speechless for quite a few seconds! Up to 40% Riyadh population is non Saudi, mostly coming from India, Pakistan & Bangladesh. As a result Urdu/Hindi is the most spoken language after Arabic. This is true for all UAE countries. Nearly all taxi drivers & shop keepers are Urdu/Hindi speaking. This made my life easy while shopping, it was painless to communicate and often I got discount when I haggled in Urdu. Surely swearing & arguing can only be done & enjoyed in one’s native language!

 It is ironic that non-Saudi’s cannot work or live here independently, they have to work through a Saudi Kafeel (sponsor) who takes a good cut in the salary or profit. It is compulsory to carry your iqama (work permit) with you all the time. As they say, you may go out without Pyjama but not without iqama. No one gets Saudi nationality irrespective of he lived here forever or was born in Saudi. The minute your job ends you are out.

Riyadh Street

Riyadh (Nejd province) is the area from where the ruling Saud family originated, as well as Abdul Wahab, the founder of Wahabi fiqh. Sauds & Abdul Wahab formed an alliance in 1744 and established their authority in this area rebelling against Ottamani Khilafat. It collapsed when they were defeated by Khilafat. Sauds regained power later as Khilafat became weak, only to lose again to a rival Al Rashid family. Around 1902 Abdul Aziz Al Al-Saud conquered Riyadh and established the current Saudi Arabia. Help came from British who wanted the Islamic state to breakup in pieces. They sent agents (Lawrence of Arabia!) who incited Arabs against Turks and caused them to fight within. And the result was as predicted, one of the grandest empires broke into pieces leaving us fighting forever; Iran-Iraq, Saudi-Iraq, Kurd-Turk, Kuwait-Iraq, Palestine-Israel,……I have a friend who comes from a Jewish family. His family is spread across UK & Israel. In his own words, middle east had peace only once and that was under Ottomani empire. Even Jews enjoyed peace and harmony. 

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) Migration Route (in Red)

Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) Hijrat Route (in Red). Blue is the normal route between Makkah & Madina which He (SAW) avoided. I took this photo in a museum in Riyadh which has nice displays. It has the only cinema in Saudia where movies are shown about how Sauds conquered the land.

 For the very reason mentioned above Riyadh is dearly dear to Saudi family. It is the centre of Wahabi religion. The culture is very restrictive in this city (a bit more than other cities). There are mutawas (police) on the doors of shopping centres who would stop loafer-looking single young male. I was quite scared but surprisingly no one stopped me! I look decent enough I suppose. Ladies are not allowed to drive or go out alone. Not many women work, if they do, they have separate seating. You cannot take photos in open in case you infringe someone’s privacy. Alcohol, clubs & parties are banned (at least to poor, rich & influential may continue privately). With the same token, this is the safest place on earth. There is almost Zero crime, far far better than the so called modern democratic states.

 Influence or authority in the Kingdom depends on your origin. Most influential are Saudi royal family (number in thousands), then ordinary Saudis, followed by Americans, British, other Whites, then Asians. Poor workers from Asian countries were treated harshly. However situation has improved slightly in recent years. My friend’s car was struck by a Saudi who was emerging out of a small road and hence guilty. Police arrived, inspected, and declared it was a mutual fault! My friend got some of his Saudi colleagues involved. Only on their interference and realising he was British, given compensation half of the damage. 

 As said by a writer “Riyadh is the best place in Kingdom to watch the continuing collusion of tribal wahabi conservatism grappling with modern technology and western influences.” There are large number of young Saudi’s studying in foreign countries. Change will be significant once they return to country. 

Mandi in Traditional Style

I was a bit scared while coming here but had a wonderful time in Riyadh mainly due to few friend in Riyadh who really looked after very well. We enjoyed dinners out in traditional Saudi style. Rice and meat dish called Kabsa is common and Mandi, a type of Kabsa is most popular in Saudi. I tried many of its varieties with chicken, lamb, beef and camel meat. This was first time I had eaten camel and I loved it. The restaurant where I tried camel, was ISO 22000 certified (a food safety standard)!

Kunafah, a sweet made with cheese or cream and vermicelli is available in all restaurants and I made good use of it. I didn’t get the chance of indulging in Baklawa.

Camel Mandi, Homous, Soup & Salad

 Surprisingly people don’t follow street addresses in Riyadh. Say for example, you want to go to No 24 Haris Street. No one including taxi driver, DHL & delivery man would understand this. You need to mention a landmark near it. e.g. a shopping centre, a big building or a famous place. Take for example, my office was near Faisaliya tower. To come to my office I would  advise taxi driver that I need to go near Faisaliya Tower. Once near I will point to him the office building and he would drop me there.

Riyadh airport’s interior is beautiful. Immigration was quick, once they start functioning. Everybody waited for about 20 mins in queues before something happened. It was even strange on the way back. There are no signs for check-ins so one needs to use imaginations. Having no imaginations, I preferred to ask. I went though security and landed in front of airline counters, checked-in and then looked for immigration. Couldn’t find any exit. Then I realised I have to go back through security gates in reverse to get to immigration and then through another security again. Then there was another check right at the gate of the plane. Still it was all very quick, all finished within 10 mins. 

Sheikh Sayedi Kashif Ali bin Bashir Lyallpuri

 Leila Majnoo:

Layla Majnoon is one of the most famous true romance stories in Arabic literature. The incident happened in 7th century in famous tribe Banu Amir living in Nejd province. A town some 330 miles away from Riyadh is named Layla after her name. The story is also found in Persian, Turkish and Indian literature. Majnoon means mad in Arabic. His original name was Qays and he was from the Riyadh area. As story goes, he either met Leila at young age or spent early years with her running around in desert wilderness. Developing a love for her, he proposed for Leila to her father but was refused. As a result he became mad and started wandering around in desert, writing poetry about her. Leila was married to another person by her family. Her husband took her to Iraq area where she fell ill and died. As Qays comes to know of this news, he goes to her grave, writes few verses there and then dies (ch ch ch….), end of story in Arabic.

The Indian story however continues (as it would in every Bollywood movie), they ran away from home taking refuge in Bijnore Rajasthan. Hero heroin meet eventually & live happily ever after, a happy ending. According to Indian sotry, they passed away there and their graves are now visited by hundreds of young couple to attend a two day fair in June!

A verse known to be written by Qays (he wrote in Arabic, this is only a translation):

 I pass by these walls, the walls of Layla

And I kiss this wall and that wall
It’s not Love of the houses that has taken my heart
But of the One who dwells in those houses

 The End….

Dr Toby vs Mr Fazal ur Rehman

Dr. Toby vs Mr Fazal ur Rehman

Meet Dr Toby Ord. He is an Oxford University research academic who has pledged to donate a million pounds to charity over the course of his working life. Dr Ord, a moral philosopher, will give away more than a third of his £33,000 salary this year (leaving him with £20,000) and then 10 per cent of his income for the rest of his working life, which should add up to around £1 million (GBP). He has also set up an organization “Giving What We Can” to encourage other people to follow suit. His partner is also supporting him, she would keep £25000 of her salary and rest will go to charity (women need a bit more!).

Dr Toby Ord & Partner Bernadette

His philosophy is simple “friends, books, music, & place to live, what else do we need for life?” So whatever the couple earns above simple comfortable living goes to needy. Salute to you Mr & Mrs Ord.

Now meet Mr Fazal ur Rehman (also known as Maulana). He is the head of political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam which was part of the People’s Party government coalition. Mr Fazal announced that his party quits the government. The decision was taken in an emergency party meeting after government removed one of the ministers (Azam Swati) belonging to his party.

The reason given for separation is that he was not taken into confidence before sacking the minister and that it is a principled (usooli) decision. What a great reason! I believe the actual reason is the removal of the minister. Mr Fazal loves being in Government. People are dying in the country out of hunger. Nation faced electricity shortage, wheat crisis, then sugar crisis, not because of shortage but due to corruption & hoarding by the mafia, nearly all of which are MNAs & MPAs, and part of the government. Where were your principles then? You have been part of this (& past) Government(s) who have ruined Pakistan.

You have said that government did not fulfill his commitment to you (meaning not giving you share in power!) so you are leaving them. Not a single word on government’s commitment to (& failing on) corruption, unemployment and law & order in the country. By the way same applies on all other “Big” leaders in country.

According to WikiLeaks, Mr Fazal arranged a dinner for American consular and then requested to be appointed as Prime Minister of Pakistan. Mr Fazal, your nation is dying by drone attacks, yet you go back to the same people begging “give me more”.

So, who will you Vote for, Dr Toby Ord or Mr Fazal ??

Trained Suicide Dogs, Mushy & India Visa, Army Security & Minister Sahib

NEWS: A clerk working in Water department in India reported a theft of 1 Lakh Rupees (0.1 million) from his home.

 Bad News for thief: The thief gets arrested.

Good News for Clerk?? No, Still Bad News: Police recovers money, not 1 Lakh but 50 Lakh Rs (5 million).

Now police is investigating where this huge money came from in a clerk’s home.  Any ideas?

———————

During world war, Russians thought of a wonderful idea of destroying German tanks. They trained their dogs to go under the tanks and explode, a kind of suicide dog squad.

The training was completed using Russian tanks. After graduating, dogs were deployed in the war. They gave surprisingly 100% results. The Dogs made no mistake.

They went straight under the “Russian” tanks and explode.

———————

A bit old but funny. Pak army chief visits prime minister, and as usual, army check posts were deployed around parliament building and PM office.

A full federal minister happened to pass-by in his official flagged car. He was stopped at the post.

–          You cant go ahead, he was told by an army man.

–          How can you stop me? I am a minister. Minister sahib tries to march ahead.

–          Soldiers aim guns at him. You are not allowed, go back.

–          Thoroughly upset, minister sahib takes about-turn and marches back.

Next day, opposition leader spoke in the parliament and pronounced:

“Who gave army the right to stop a minister, especially in this democratic government. If this has to be done, parliament should be closed. This is like a slap on the face of parliament & demo-kracy.”

The issue was riased in the parilianment for further investigation. Did anyone dare to question army men? I think not.

——————————————–

NEWS: Gen Musharaf was due to visit India for 1 week but Indian authorities refused to grant visa.
 
Mushy’s RESPONSE: I will never visit India again.
 
Angoor khatay hein…    hehehehehe….

The End…

Be Prepared: A Lesson from History

By Irshad Haqqani

From: www.asiantribune.com

In 1973 the war between Arabs and Israel was about to start. Meanwhile an American Senator visited Israel on a special mission. He was chief of the Senate Arms Committee. A meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir was arranged immediately.

Golda Meir welcomed him into her home, like any common housewife welcoming a family guest. She took him to the kitchen. While seating him at the kitchen dining table, she went over to prepare tea for the guest.

As the water was kept for boiling, she came over and sat on a chair near the dining table. She opened the discussion regarding planes, missiles, and guns. In the course of negotiations, she got the aroma of the brew.

She prepared two cups of tea, and offered one cup to the Senator, and another to an American guard who was standing at the gate. On returning, she came back, continued talking with the Senator. After a discussion they settled the arms deal. In the meantime, she stood up, collected all the cups, and turned to senator and said “I agree to this deal. You can send your secretary to my secretary for written deal”.

It may be remembered that Israel at that time was facing a serious economic crisis, but the huge arms deal was settled by Meir with the greatest of ease in the history of Israel. It was quite astonishing that earlier, the Israeli cabinet had rejected the same deal, because they thought it would be so costly, that the whole nation would have to make do with a single meal a day, for years to come.

Meir knew about their stand, and said, “Your doubt are well founded, but if we win this war, and defeat the Arabs, history will remember us as the victors, and in history, once a community is know as the victor, it forgets how many eggs they ate and how many times they had food. Whether there was jam, honey, butter on the table, and how many holes they had in their shoes. Or whether the sheaths of their swords were new or old! A conqueror is a conqueror.”

Based on Meir’s solid logic, the Israeli cabinet approved the deal. Later it was proved that the decision taken by Meir was right, and the whole world witnessed the Jews knocking on the doors of the Arabs with this artillery. A war took place, and the Arabs faced a shameful defeat at the hands of an old lady.

After a gap of one decade after the war, a reporter of the Washington Post interviewed Meir, asking “Was the logic you had in your mind for the arms was spur of the moment decision or you had had an advance strategy?”

Meir’s reply was very surprising.

She answered, “I got this logic from the prophet (of the Muslims) Mohammed (peace be upon him). When I was a student, my favorite topic was comparative study of religions. Those days I studied the life of Mohammed (PBUH). One author stated that when Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) died, there was not enough money to buy oil for a lamp, his wife (Ayesha Siddiqua) mortgaged his battle shield to buy oil, yet there were nine swords hung on the wall of his house.

When I read this account, it occurred to me- how many people in the world would have known about the worst economic condition of Islamic state? But everyone recognizes them as conquerors of half the world. So I decided that I would buy arms at any cost; even if we would have to starve or to live in camps instead of buildings, but we would prove ourselves as the victor”.

Meir revealed this secret, but requested the interviewer to keep it “off the record”, and refrain from publishing it, because if she referred to Prophet Mohammed, the Jews would have revolted against her and the Muslim position would have strengthened.

Over the time, world situation changed. Golda Meir died. By this time the interviewer had given up the profession of journalism. Meanwhile another correspondent was busy interviewing 20 famous American journalists. In connection with this, he met the journalist who had interviewed Meir as a representative of the Washington Post.

In this interview, he recounted the story of Meir that drew on the life of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

He said he was not ashamed to tell the story. Further, he said, “After this incident I studied the history of Islam, and was astonished to know about the savoir-faire of Arabs. Because I learnt that Tariq bin Ziyad conquered Spain through Gibraltar, while more than half his army did not have complete suit of clothes. They subsisted for 72 hours at time on water and dried bread.

It was then that the interviewer agreed with Meir’s view that history counts victory; it does not count the eggs, jams and butter on the table.”

When the interview with Meir was published, the whole world learned of this entire story.

This astonishing incident is history’s wake-up call to the Muslims of the world. It teaches them a lesson; it reveals how 14 centuries ago, a shepherd, clad in a cloak and worn-out shoes became the leader of the world, and conquered four continents.

Could enormous castles, grand palaces, magnificent gardens, splendid clothes, adorned rest places of silk and sleepless, gold silver, boxes, gems and jewels, spread of savory dishes and the jingle of coins save them? The locust-swarm of Tartar forces did not reach the palace of Musta’sim Billah by trampling over Baghdad. What a terrible and astonishing scene it was in the history of Islam, when Musta’sim Billah was bound in chains, standing like a prisoner before Halaku Khan (grandson of Changiz Khan). And at mealtime, Halaku Khan ate in simple plates, but offered plates of gems and precious metals to Caliph Musta’sim Billah, mocking “Eat from these diamonds, gems, gold and precious metals you have collected!” There stood the Sovereign of Baghdad, helplessness, powerless, lonely, destitute, saying, “How can I eat gold?” Halaku Khan replied, “Then why you have collected all this silver and gold?”

The Muslim, whose religion calls on him to make arms and rear horses, had no reply. Halaku Khan glanced at the palace doors and windows, asking, “Why did you not make iron arrows by melting these iron nets? Why did you collect these diamonds instead of paying money to your soldiers, so they could fight bravely against my forces?”

“It was the will of Allah”, replied the grieved Caliph.

The arrogant Halaku shot back, “Whatever is now going to happen with you is also God’s wish”.

Then Halaku covered Musta’sim Billah in a cloak and crushed him under the hooves of horses, and proceeded to make a graveyard of Baghdad.