Monem Salem of Peaceful Communications Addresses Important Financial Issues

March 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

P3068744

Rochester Hills-March 10–Religious people are forced to confront directly decisions about their financial practices. Where people without religion have the luxury of making financial and other decisions without resort to a regime of discipline other than whatever feels right to them, religious people and especially Muslims have a strong structure of discipline into which they must integrate their financial lives.

How much to give as sadaqa? Is it halal to save money? And what about contemporary financial issues like debt–let alone the highly charged subject of riba.

Mr. Salam spoke at length about these issues to the Saturday night monthly dinner at IAGD.

The monthly dinner began after maghrib with Qur`an recitation and some demonstrations by IAGD children including a brief Qur`an recitation and a mock debate on the issue of Valentine’s Day and whether it is acceptable for Muslims.

Salam explained that in the environment of an economy that is hemorrhaging jobs, with a government that is borrowing money hand over fist, where all people are confronted with serious concerns about their economic well being, it is appropriate to ask what financial practices on an individual level are healthy and Islamically correct.

He had several main points which he emphasized carefully.  First, he emphasized balance.  He quoted a saying of Sayyidina Ali (kw) who said “spend neither extravagantly nor miserly.” This middle way, Salam explained, is dependent on what your personal wealth is.  But a sign of extravagance is buying things to compete with one’s neighbors or friends.  And don’t forget sadaqa and charity, he emphasized, saying sadaqa earns a reward far beyond what a person gives.  Spend less than what you earn, Salam said.

Also, he gave clear and convincing evidence from ahadith that debt is a terrible burden that must be avoided, pointing out that the level of debt of an American person, for example with a mortgage, is orders of magnitude beyond the debt avoided by Companions.  And his arguments about the terrible burdens of debt were powerful without his even touching on the subject of interest or riba.

P3068745 He explained that the word for debt in Arabic has the same root as the words “submission” and “humiliation.”

Also, Mr. Salam explained again with convincing arguments that saving is necessary.  He emphasized examples of Companions including Sayyidina Abu Bakr as Siddiq (ra) who gave a large amount of money to free Sayyidina Bilal (ra) from slavery–Salam’s argument was that this example of generosity must have meant that Abu Bakr (ra) had been saving in order to have such a large sum of money available to him when he needed it.

He gave examples from Qur`an also, including from Surat Kahf, where Sayyidinal Khidr (as) and Sayyidina Musa (as) rebuilt a wall to protect the savings of a pious man for his inheritors–therefore this means the pious man had saved money and was not spending all of it for sadaqa.

Another example from Qur`an was Sayyidina Yusuf’s dream of seven fat years and seven lean years–the principle being to save from prosperous times for “rainy days.”

Salam emphasized saving a significant amount, whether enough to live on for one full year or enough to survive a significant personal tragedy or catastrophe.

Mr. Salam is Director and Vice President of Islamic Investing and Amana’s deputy portfolio manager.  He was raised in Texas and earned degrees from the University of Texas.  After working with other firms, he joined Saturna Capital in 2003 and manages many of Saturna’s Islamic private acccounts. 

Mr. Salam was the subject of a documentary about learning to pilot a plane as a Muslim subsequent to 9/11, “On a Wing and a Prayer,” a review of which movie was featured in this newspaper.

12-11

Karzai Defends Afghanistan Election

September 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Maria Golovnina, Reuters

2009-09-09T071319Z_01_KAB04_RTRMDNP_3_AFGHANISTAN

An Afghan man rides on his donkey-cart past a poster of President Hamid Karzai in Kabul September 9, 2009. Afghan election returns on Tuesday put Karzai on course for a first-round victory, but a watchdog that can veto the outcome said it had found "clear and convincing evidence of fraud" and ordered a partial recount.

REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

KABUL (Reuters) – Incumbent Hamid Karzai defended last month’s Afghan presidential election as honest on Wednesday, a day after returns showed him on course to win in a single round and a U.N-backed panel ordered a partial recount.

The standoff has alarmed Western leaders who have risked their own political capital to send troops on what is becoming an increasingly unpopular mission.

Preliminary election results issued on Tuesday gave Karzai more than 54 percent of valid votes tallied, putting him above the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff with his closest rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah.

But the independent Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), appointed mainly by the United Nations, said it had found “clear and convincing” evidence of fraud and ordered a partial recount.

On Wednesday, Karzai praised the conduct of the vote.

“The president praised the (election officials) for holding the election with honesty and impartiality despite all the difficulties,” the presidential palace said in a statement.

Abdullah says Karzai’s backers have attempted to steal the August 20 election by stuffing ballots on a massive scale.

Early vote tables, which have been removed from the election commission’s website without explanation, showed whole villages in which Karzai received every single ballot cast, sometimes with exactly 400 or 500 votes.

For now, Western officials have put their confidence in the watchdog ECC, which can overturn the result and must sign off on the outcome before it is final.

Diplomats say they are uneasy but resigned to the possibility of the U.N.-backed body reversing a result released by Afghanistan’s own election authorities.

The West originally hailed the vote as a success, largely because the Taliban failed to disrupt it. Those assessments have became increasingly muted as evidence of fraud has mounted.

In central Kabul, hundreds of people gathered to mourn the death of Tajik anti-Taliban hero Ahmed Shah Masood who was killed on September 9, 2001, by al-Qaeda — a crucial rallying day for half-Tajik Abdullah who was part of Masood’s inner circle.

Addressing the rally, Abdullah made no direct mention of the election but played up his link to the iconic commander.

“Masood fought for this country and died for this country,” said Abdullah, whose supporters have threatened to hold protests if their election concerns were not heard. “He fought to bring peace and security to this country.”

Speaking alongside Abdullah in a city festooned with Masood posters, ex-president and key ally Burhanuddin Rabbani added: “The election result must be cleaned or Afghanistan will face chaos and big challenges.”

Karzai, an ethnic Pashtun who draws much of his support from his ethnic heartland, did not attend the ceremony.

Locking Afghanistan into a further period of uncertainty, the ECC ordered Afghan officials to recount results from polling stations where one candidate received more than 95% of the vote or more votes were cast than the expected maximum of 600.

Election officials say that could take weeks or even months. British ambassador to Afghanistan Mark Sedwill said it was too early to judge the authenticity of the vote before the ECC had finished its process of screening ballots for fraud.

“We have to see the result of their investigations,” he told BBC radio. “We always knew there would be fraud in this election, a lot of irregularities, I’m afraid that was inevitable, and we talked about that before the election.”

Facing an increasingly skeptical public opinion over its role in Afghanistan, Britain on Wednesday offered to host a global conference to set targets for handing over security commitments from foreign troops to Afghan forces.

Raid frees reporter

Before dawn, NATO troops stormed a Taliban hideout in the north of the country to release New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell of Britain and his Afghan colleague Mohammad Sultan Munadi who were kidnapped by insurgents at the end of last week.

Farrell was freed but Munadi was killed in the rescue, along with a British soldier and at least one civilian.

The two had been headed to cover the aftermath of a NATO air strike called in by German troops that killed scores of people. The strike took place in an area controlled by the Taliban and fueled anger among its mainly Pashtun local people.

NATO has confirmed that some civilians may have been killed and ordered a formal investigation into the air strike — the deadliest incident involving German troops since World War Two.

(Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi and Sayed Salahuddin in KABUL, Mohammad Hamed in KUNDUZ, and Avril Ormsby in LONDON; Writing by Maria Golovnina)

11-38