Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Great accomplishments begin with a dream, but dreams can only come true if they are supported by the will and determination to turn them into a reality. Dreams are the source of inspiration for humanity; I do not mean the dreams that we experience when we are asleep but those we have when we are awake and the ones we believe are difficult to achieve at the time either because of a lack of means or because of obstacles in the way of achieving them; but nothing is impossible. When Martin Luther King delivered his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in 1963 in the presence of an audience of 250,000 at Abraham Lincoln’s memorial, none of those present, including Martin Luther himself, ever thought that the African-Americans would one day see an African-American become president of the USA. However, the reality today states that the dream that seemed impossible in 1963 came true in 2009 when the first African-American assumed presidency.
Some people might ask what this has got to do with Islamic finance. My aim is to provide evidence that nothing is impossible and that there is no harm in dreaming of there being a real Islamic financial system that seeks to fulfil genuine Sharia rulings. It is certainly true that others and I, as well as the founding fathers of this industry, have a dream that one day real Islamic financial institutions will operate based on Islam’s view of finance and the way it is used within the framework of an integral Islamic economic theory aiming to promote society and develop the Islamic nation away from the theory of capitalism. The present-day Islamic financial institutions are nothing more than capitalist institutions that have been restructured to appear to be Sharia compliant regardless of the reality.
I have a dream that one day Islamic financial institutions will operate based on the principle of partnership rather than debt in the sense that all parties would share both risk and profit. I have a dream that Islamic financial institutions will not base profit on usury that will cause them to be weak and fragile.
I have a dream that one day Islamic financial institutions will have clear strategies to set up important development projects in their societies in a way that contributes to reducing unemployment, increasing productivity in society, improving technology and adopting and strengthening creative ideas. I have a dream that Islamic financial institutions will create genuine products rather than alternative ones through which they could change the conventional view of the financial institution. I have a dream that the joint Islamic financial market will be based on relying on its own tools away from imitating derivatives, bonds or other tools of Islamic banking.
I have a dream that a generation of Islamic financial leaderships that believe in real Islamic finance will seek to apply their rules as part of a set of specific strategies. I have a dream that one day Islamic financial institutions will allocate part of their budget to research aimed at developing their own financial tools and technology. I have a dream that Islamic financial institutions will apply the principles of Islam in terms of frankness, transparency, justice and satisfaction, and will keep away from cheating and fraud. I have a dream that Islamic financial institutions will not encourage high consumer patterns in Muslim societies; institutions that only seek to raise their profits despite being well aware that excessive consumption will harm society. I have a dream that Islamic financial institutions will be capable of providing effective financial solutions to the global economy in accordance with a real and integrated Islamic vision. I have a dream that Islamic financial corporations will be able to convey Islam’s civilized message to the world just as our merchant Muslim ancestors did. I have a dream that one day Muslim businessmen will make this dream come true.