A Muslim businessman praising his bank for his company’s success, saying it’s due to interest money

There are events that make you uncomfortable, and others that simply lead to a sinking feeling inside you. Something rather fascinating happened two days ago that unnerved me a little.

I was invited to a bank conference here in Hong Kong and one of the speakers incidentally, was a big Hong Kong-based Muslim businessman running a company with thousands+ employees worldwide.

In fact, I often see him, his fancy car and driver at the local mosque here in Hong Kong on Jumuahs, but did not realise he was that big a deal until I saw him up on stage.

Anyways, as one of the company founders, he started off by first explaining how his company today has operations in half a dozen countries and has grown over the last 30 years, etc.

Most interestingly, he talked about how this bank has helped him over the years with their lending.

What perhaps stumped me most was his remark about how generously this bank offered him “7-8% interest rates other banks didn’t” joking how “his company at times didn’t have to do anything else” adding “which is why he has banked with them for 20 to 30 years”.

Put simply, here was a high profile “very successful” wealthy Hong Kong Muslim very causally talking about the lure of bank interest, as part of doing business.

On my way home from the conference that night, I found myself distraught wondering if I had misunderstood what he was so clearly saying.

I replayed it and wondered whether he was the exception or is this becoming the norm? How did we Muslims deviate so far away?

Someone once said

Never commit a sin for a little bit of comfort. The comfort will eventually dissipate but the sin will remain.

Similarly people who give or take interest, the Quran, says:

Take notice of war from Allah.

(Quran 2:278-279)

Meaning those who take or give interest, prepare to go to war with Allah on the day of judgement. No other group of sinners are threatened with this except those who give or take interests.

Enough said.

So think smart. Don’t buy anything that could be suspiciously interest-based. If you can’t afford it, stay away. This isn’t about finance. It’s about basic logic.

More importantly, wealth in this world is not the true benchmark for success. Being grateful for however much or limited sustenance you have in this world certainly is.

This I guess, so as to ensure we will not be on the wrong side of the battlefield on the day of judgement.

Written by Siddiq Bazarwala

The writer is Founder of Ordinary Muslim Productions and Author of the book "Q&A with an Islamophobe".

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