ABU DHABI // Islam promotes entrepreneurship and creativity in a free market, but it also protects people who fall prey to unscrupulous practices, a senior imam told worshippers in this weekend's sermon. "Many people today over-extended themselves with loans they can't afford," Sheikh Jihad Hashim told a mostly English-speaking congregation at the Maryam bint Sultan mosque. "Financial institutions encouraged this by lending to people who could not afford to pay back, exploiting the frivolous nature of humans. Then these institutions sold the loans to other institutions, then chopped them up into bonds and sold them to more institutions.
"It is not without reason that the law says you cannot sell something that you don't own. The Islamic economic system balances between capitalism and a compassionate social network that ensures everyone is taken care of. It encourages a free market, entrepreneurship and creativity, but ensures the players have accountability and maturity." Islam forbids usury, and Islamic lending is based on principles different from international accounting standards. A mortgage from an Islamic bank, for example, means that the bank buys the home, then sells it to the customer in instalments at a reasonable profit.
Some scholars say Islamic economics, which encourage trade and entrepreneurship, is neither capitalist nor socialist, but mixes principles from both systems. The General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments issues a sermon every week and expects mosques to preach the topic. Individual imams, however, can fine-tune it according to the needs of their congregations. This week's official sermon was based on the concept of "tawakul ala Allah", which means reliance on God.
Sheikh Hashim said God "has our back when the going is rough". email@example.com