Home > Fiqh > We Don’t Go to Bars, Why Do We Go to Banks? By Douglas Kelly

We Don’t Go to Bars, Why Do We Go to Banks? By Douglas Kelly

An excellent article that every Muslim should know about:

We Don’t Go to Bars, Why Do We Go to Banks?


We Don’t Go to Bars, Why Do We Go to Banks? (Part II)


When I recently consolidated a student loan I had taken out many years ago, I noticed that the amount I owed was more than double what I had originally borrowed.  I’m still in school, so I don’t have double the education from when I first took out the loan.  I definitely don’t have double the income.  Even before I knew anything about Islam and how it forbids usury, I knew something was wrong with that picture.  And that there was a bigger picture involving a whole world in debt crisis.

I had a “eureka” moment when I first read the warnings in the Qur’an and Sunnah about usury.  The logical connection I made between those warnings and the global economic crisis can only be described in terms as simple as a children’s adventure story—lest they go right over all our heads like so many complex derivatives transactions and we as an Ummah fail to make the one simple transaction that might finally begin to change our condition in the world.

Like “putting two and two together,” it’s as if I had been walking around my entire life with the broken half of a ring inscribed with a secret message that couldn’t be read without the other half.  The first half of the message of that ring was my experience on Wall Street.  The missing half, the key to the secret, I finally found a generation later in the Word of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala – exalted is He) as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

I am neither a scholar nor an Imam.  I only embraced Islam, and read the English translation of the meaning of the Qur’an for the first time four years ago.  I can only recite 13 surahs (chapters) from memory, and I am still both a student of the Islamic  financial  system and a student of the Deen of Allah (swt).  But 20 years ago I was an NASD-registered stockbroker with an investment banking firm known for its IPOs (Initial Public Offerings).  I have sold life insurance and annuities and bought investment properties.  And I had a front-row seat for an economic crisis that wiped out the value of a portfolio of prime real estate I took a decade to build, which in January 2006 appraised at 1.2 million US dollars.  I know first-hand how banks operate.  And it’s nothing like what the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said that Allah (swt) prescribed for mankind.

The prohibition of interest and the laws of halal trade and lending that Allah (swt) revealed in the Hadith, as well as in the Qur’an itself, appear to me to describe a system of shared profit and loss between lenders and borrowers.  A system that looks a lot like what we know today as Investment Banking of common shares of stock.

The foundation of Wall Street, and every financial market on the planet, is the principle of risk is proportionate with reward.  Just like, “In God We Trust,” the very words “risk is proportionate with reward” imply a leap of faith.  The entire world does business according to this un-provable, unscientific law of sowing and reaping.  You cast thy bread upon the waters of commerce with the understanding that thy bread may never return; or that it may come back multiplied many times over—like a handful of loaves and fishes that end up feeding the multitudes.  The greater the chance of loss, the greater the potential profit.  The more you can afford to lose, the more you stand to gain.  Just like in life, nothing is guaranteed but death.

(Continue reading this excellent article by Douglas here: http://www.suhaibwebb.com/summer-nights/we-don%E2%80%99t-go-to-bars-why-do-we-go-to-banks/)

  1. September 23, 2010 at 12:27 am

    I am honored beyond words to have your recommendation. JazakAllahu khair. May Allah (swt) reward you for expanding the reach of this important message to the Ummah…which is not from me but from Him (highly glorified is He).

    • September 25, 2010 at 3:32 pm

      Salam Alikum Douglas. Jazak Allah Khair for your note. Don’t mention it. May Allah reward your efforts. I will look forward to reading more of your articles. BTW, I enjoyed reading your article at muslimmatters. Quite an interesting story!

  2. October 13, 2010 at 10:44 pm

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