Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Small Matter of Infidels making Profit

IKIM's Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas broadcasts the persona of a progressive Muslim intellectual, speaking about bridging the chasm between Muslim and non-Muslims.

And if we read the first paragraphs of the following article on Al-Attas, he seems to have his head screwed on correctly.

IKIM's Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas wants misconceptions of Islam corrected

What I can see now is that we have made issues out of everything. Look at the halal issue. Why now suddenly it has become so difficult?

People who are not well-versed in "halal and haram" are allowed to air their views. For example, there are those who say if it tastes like pork, then it is haram. This is highly ridiculous.

This view is not only narrow but it is a case of ignorance. How can we say that? You must make your judgment based on experience and knowledge.

They have wrongly interpreted the religion until everything is placed under "halal and haram". Islam is universal.
Sounds good, don't it? But don't let that fool you. It all goes pear shaped from hereon end. He babbles on to reveal the same narrowness of thought and bigotry that we have come to expect from those cut from the same cloth as he is.
The same goes to controlling the "halal" market. Do not allow non-Muslims to manage it as their focus is only on profit. Their ultimate goal is profit-making.
I've got 2 problems with that piece of hogwash.

1. How does one tell the difference or similarity between making a living and earning a profit? One is obviously halal and the other's apparently haram. How do you differentiate one from the other?

How much is enough? When does enough become excessive? When does the "fruits of labour" transform into the "profits of enterprise"? I'm an infidel and I don't understand how that distinction is made.

2. Is Mr Al-Attas saying that when Muslims do business or dabble in the "halal" market, their focus is NOT profit? Has he seen the PROFIT & Loss statements of ALL Muslim owned businesses? When their revenues exceed their expenses. Is that not profit? How is it different if it's a non-Muslim who draws that revenue and incurs those expenses?

Islamic finance for eg. How is that different from normal finance and banking? You put capital in one end, you extract more (than what you put in) from the other end. In my book, that's profit... pure and simple. It doesn't make a lick of difference if it's given some fancy Arabic name. If it smells like a dog, barks like a dog and raises its hind leg to pee like a dog... I'll tell you what... it's a dog.

Do the Arabs refuse the "profits" of their oil wells in the Middle East? In fact, I have yet to see any Muslim boss or employee refuse their profits and salaries and say "no, no... that is more than what I need to feed my family and it exceeds the effort I put in. I cannot accept it"

Do you reckon Mr Al-Attas will refuse to accept his salary and choose to go home every month with 20kg of rice, 2 kg of salt, 2 kg of sugar and 2 liters of cooking oil? I'm sure he doesn't want to profit from his work, right?

I'm sorry if I misunderstood everything. It's probably just my upbringing as a hopeless infidel. But I simply do not see that remark as a religious matter. I see it as a purely discriminatory, inflammatory exhortation designed to curb the participation of non-Muslims in the market for halal goods and services.

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