Response to Dr. Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi’s article “The Islamic Dinar – A Way-Stage Passed”

By the Dinar and Dirham Technical Group

The above article appeared in the Shaykh’s website, posted February 14, 2014, in which the Shaykh declared, near the end of the article, that he now is dis-associating himself from all activities involving the Islamic gold dinar and silver dirham (hereinafter DnD).

His disappointment seemed rooted in the fact that after decades of hard work and planting the ‘tree’ to push the DnD as an instrument of Taken Zakat had not come to fruition.  In his words, a Taken Zakat must fulfill the following:

  1. An appointed Amir
  2. That Amir’s appointment of Zakat Collectors
  3. This resulting in a collected and assessed amount of Zakat
  4. The gathering of the Zakat in a Bayt al-Maal
  5. The immediate distribution of the Zakat to the legally worthy recipients

And that the DnD initiatives so far did not achieve these.  Hence the Shaykh writes:

“a newer and wider method must be adopted on a global scale PRIOR to the return of a local Halal functioning community which restores Islam by the door of Zakat….I call on an end to its [DnD] new institutions and productivity. The defence mechanisms of today’s late capitalism and its crisis management surrounding the buying, moving and minting of gold have surrounded it with prohibitive pricing and taxation. It is time to move beyond it. This is capitalism’s pyrrhic victory. Ahead lies vast expansion for the post-terrorist and post-political stage of Muslim growth.”

The Dinar and Dirham Technical Group (DDTG) is not a part of the Shaykh’s Murabbitun sufi order.  Nonetheless, we viewed ourselves as part of a larger group that strives to bring back the DnD as part of the Islamic socio-economic order.  This because we have reasoned and determined that the present fiat money system is nothing but embodies profound riba and prevents the attainment of a true Islamic socio-economic order, i.e. the maqasid al-Sharia are not attainable in this present system.

What the DDTG strives for is not so much bringing back physical gold dinars and silver dirhams into society as medium of exchange, even though this is a desirable event.  But rather its true struggle is to bring back gold and silver as measure of value in economic exchanges and transactions.  These are very much two different things.  Trade and commerce ultimately involves the exchange of goods and services.  What is missing in the present global monetary system is a real measure of value that can promote exchange justice, stability and sustainability.  Fiat money is a virtual measure of value and carries with it the Ribawi gene.  On the other hand, gold and silver is in line with what great scholars of past like al-Ghazzali and ibn Khaldun remarked in their works, i.e. God created the two precious metals as measure of value, i.e. against which the value of all other goods and services are measured.  The Holy Qur’an describes these two metals as of having precious value not only in this world but also in the Hereafter, i.e. Jannah.

While the DDTG recognizes the DnD as the ultimate measures of value, it also recognizes that other measures of value are also possible.  They simply need to have the characteristics needed to play the role of measure of value.  The following hadith of the prophet (saw) itself gives four other such items.

Abu Said al-Khudri reported Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.) as saying:  Gold is to be paid for by gold, silver by silver, wheat by wheat, barley by barley, dates by dates and salt by salt, like for like, payment being made on the spot.  If anyone gives more or asks more he has dealt in riba.  The receiver and giver are equally guilty.Sahih Muslim

Hence what the DDTG strives for is to establish real measures of value.  These necessarily must be commodities or services having their own intrinsic value.  Symbolic money is acceptable so long it is redeemable for some real commodity or service.  The DDTG would like to see not only dinar and dirham instituted but also other real money concepts – like commercial barter exchanges, complementary currencies, etc. – to coexist so as to increase the strength and resilience of the whole monetary and economic system.

Hence the DDTG recognizes that the fact, Shari’a principles of muamalat, zakat, mahr, hudud etc. are based on gold and silver as monetary standard has hikmah behind it.

Nonetheless, in this regard the DDTG recognized that it is virtually impossible to revive back the gold dinar and silver dirham their monetary role so long the legal tender law is not ‘loosened’ a bit.  This is because, in the presence of legal tender law, Gresham’s Law would kick-in, i.e. inferior money would drive out good money.  Hence paper money and other fiat money would drive the gold dinar and silver dirham out of circulation.  This is exactly what happened in Kelantan.  Only in the absence of legal tender law or with some ‘loosening’ of the law that the dinar and dirham has some chance of succeeding.

When the gold dinar and silver dirham of Kelantan were first introduced in 20 September 2006 I was invited to give the keynote address.  At that time Umar Vadillo was not even in the picture yet, and I stressed the point that the DnD can be introduced mainly as an inflation hedge only and not as money, i.e. as means to protect one’s savings from being eroded by inflation.   Nonetheless, Kelantan later relaunched its ‘first’ dinar again on 12 August 2010 as though the 2006 event did not take place.  This time the launch was through a company, the Kelantan Gold Trade, led by Umar Vadillo.

As expected, the venture failed as per our discussion above.

But nonetheless, we at DDTG are confident of the true role of the Islamic gold dinar and silver dirham; and what is needed to achieve the objective.  The task ahead is not an easy one because money and financial systems are tricky and intertwined with global power play.  We are talking about complementing paradigms or even complete paradigm shifts.  Hence, this will take time.  But, we are confident that by the Grace of Allah SWT the gold dinar and silver dirham will ultimately resurface, and contribute to socio-economic justice, peace and abundant prosperity for all – Muslims and non-Muslims alike;   in the near future.  We just need to be focused, steadfast and patient.  Truth, honesty and willing to listen to other opinions are other quality traits one should develop in one’s self to contribute to this success.

The path to Glorious Islam again is not through fighting armies but rather through eradicating RIBA in all its forms in society.  We hope Shaykh Abdalqadir would reconsider his statement as gold, silver and commodities with intrinsic value are sunnah money.  The struggle against RIBA is a multifaceted one and the ummah’s strive to re-establish the gold dinar and silver dirham is warranted and a legitimate right action.

The Dinar and Dirham Technical Group

[1] The Dinar and Dirham Technical Group is an informal group of academicians, sharia scholars, lawyers, practitioners, businessmen, college students etc. from the Nusantara, led by Dr Ahamed Kameel Mydin Meera, a professor and Dean at the International Islamic University Malaysia.  The group occasionally meets basically to discuss the DnD intellectually, to determine the DnD standards and their historical role, to describe the true role of DnD in Islamic economics and discuss strategies to actualize the implementation of DnD given the current local and global socio-political and legal conditions.

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