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The Stock Market's Conversion to Islam - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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When I was at school, we would watch our science teacher as he conducted an experiment that involved the dissolving of sugar in water. We would be amazed and wondered where the sugar had disappeared. Was our a teacher a magician? Did he hide the sugar cube? My curiosity was not satisfied until I approached my teacher, our “scientific expert,” and had him explain the mystery behind the disappearance of the sugar. Only then did I understand the experiment.

Specialization, I believe is necessary and fundamental to understand a number of matters. The same applies to financial and economic issues especially in light of recent events concerning finance and investment. The latest events require constant research and specialization rather than judgment with 800-year-old notions. Contemporary finance issues such as insurance and lease contracts that are finalized by ownership and the money market are new issues that our predecessors would not have experienced. The issue, I believe, is the responsibility of contemporary specialists who should express their rational opinions rather than their sympathy. Based on this open interpretation, others would be able to provide sound opinions based on facts and figures.

When the Imam of the holy mosque of Mecca called for the transformation of the Saudi stock market into an Islamic system in last Friday’s sermon, he raised an important point in his hypothetical and complicated question, “is the Saudi stock market not Muslim? Is it Buddhist or Hindu? The stock market is definitely a Muslim one however are there not Muslim and non-Muslim shares. There are differing interests, responsibilities and modes of operation that are applied as long as there is profit, safety and justice. The numerous opinions that categorize companies into “clean” and “unclean” has caused a major disturbance due to the diversity in opinion. Some state that there only between 12 and 27 “clean” companies. Such opinions, especially from non-specialists cause a state of commotion and spread anxiety amongst people in an extremely sensitive market that is in control of the interests of hundreds of thousands of people. The penetration of religious notions in critical and sensitive matters that can affect the source of people’s incomes is not part of a game. This entails great responsibility from those who have a strong voice in society. The Saudi stock market has existed for over 20 years and those involved in it make up a large number. We could never call for the exclusion of religion from economic activities however, what we do advocate is that whomever gives his opinion in financial matters should be a specialist who is fully aware of the issues to which he refers.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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