Interest Rate in the Clinton-Obama Debate

This article is connected to the California Democratic Debate which took place a few days before the Super Tuesday. I am interested in these debates for a number of reasons: 1) I learn from the candidates how they present their arguments and how they defend them; 2) I enjoy the news analyses that follow debates; 3) I evaluate each candidate from the Islamic viewpoint; and 4) I pray that Allah guides the American people to elect the most God-fearing individual who cares about establishing comprehensive peace and justice at home and abroad.     All of us know that the American President has great impact on every corner of the world.

In the Clinton-Obama debate, the candidates were asked to start out by making general statements in 90 seconds. Then, the first question was asked, “What are the differences between your policies?”     Senator Clinton attracted my attention when she spoke about the economy that is not working except for the wealthy and the connected. She spoke of the suffering of over 37,000,000 Americans who live below poverty line. Hillary Clinton showed her sympathy to millions of Americans who are likely to lose their homes because of their inability to honor their mortgage agreements. Then she announced several plans to fix America. To remedy the economy, she announced a plan of “freezing interest rates for five years.”

Senator Clinton knew the connection between “high interest rates” and “economy failure.”   She almost hit the nail on the head when she announced her plan of freezing interest rates for five years. I wish she was more generous and froze interest rates for ever. If she does, her legacy will be unique. Her comments on economy and interest rates hit a chord in me because the Glorious Qur’an give stern warning to interest/usury based economies. Allah, the Wise, requests Muslims to give up what remains (due to them) of interest (Qur’an 2: 278). If they do not follow the rules of Allah, they will bear the consequences: a war against them from Allah and His Messenger.   For detailed examination of this issue the reader is requested to read the Qur’an 2:275-281.

The problem of interest is the story of needy people (the borrowers) who take money from richer people (the lenders) to meet their needs. The money returned is greater than the money received and the difference is called interest or usury. Dealing with “interest” makes the rich, richer and the poor, poorer. This difference among people has disastrous psychological and sociological consequences. Islam steps in to ensure justice among people in all areas of life, including the economy.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be unto him) predicted that usury will penetrate the depth of economic systems and financial institutions; the punishment will be collective. The Prophet said,”There will come an age where everybody eats usury and those who don’t will be touched by its dust. ”     The Prophet cursed usury, those who take it, those who write the contract and those who witness such a contract. For deeper study of money in Islam, the reader is encouraged to consult the work done by Magdy Abdel-Shafy in the Qur’an miracles encyclopedia. According to this source, Islam allows only one kind of loan and that is al-qard-el-hasan, literally meaning “a good loan”

Muslims in Canada are doing something about it. The Islamic Co-operative Housing Corporation Ltd. (ISNA) has developed an interest -free housing scheme. They have sold shares worth almost thirty million dollars out of an authorized capital of thirty million dollars and, have purchased housing units for over five hundred and four Muslim families. Actual transfer of housing units follows an “Occupancy Agreement.”   More recently, a new co-operative (ACHC) named Ansar Co-operative Housing Corporation Ltd. was incorporated; both run by the same board and from the same office. If you wish to learn more about these great projects please visit www.isnacanada.com

My thinking about writing this article began the same night when the Clinton-Obama debate took place. I thought of writing a note to Hillary Clinton to let her know about the Islamic solutions to solve world problems. I went to her website and gave my personal information and typed my message. Unfortunately my message was rejected because I did not supply a zip code. So, I went the other route and sent her a fax but the line was busy all the time. So, I decided to mail it to her office in Washington.

This is the text of my message: {I love your plan of “freezing interest rate for five years.” Could you be more generous and freeze it for ever? The Glorious Qur’an (2:275-281) gives a stern warning to interest/usury based economies. Some 504 Muslim families bought mortgage-less homes. Please check Islamic solutions: isnacanada.com.}

About the Author
Dr. Mohammed Saleh

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Dr. Mohammed Saleh spent most of his life in the field of education: teaching, administration and consulting. He taught at the elementary, secondary and university levels. At Umm – Al Qura University (Makkah), Dr. Saleh held the position of Assistant Professor at the College of Education and Associate Professor at the college of Social Sciences. Dr. Saleh had the pleasure of running three k – 12 Islamic Schools in North America: Panama City Florida, Richmond (British Columbia) and Ann Arbor (Michigan.) As an educational Consultant, Dr. Saleh used his life – long experience in education to develop a model of Quran – curriculum integration process (abbreviated Q – cip.) His vision was to share his knowledge and experience with Islamic schools in North America to help teachers integrate the Glorious Quran in all subjects. May Allah swt, in His infinite Mercy, grant him the highest level of Paradise, inshaAllah.

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