By Asif Shiraz
From the Sicarius dagger-men to Fenian Brotherhood, Terrorism was never a stranger to the world. But 9/11, of course was uniquely exceptional in how it changed the whole world’s outlook towards this issue. It united us all in universal condemnation, and a resolve to never tolerate it again. Pakistan, ever since, has been at the forefront of its own domestic war on terror. While the media loves to portray us as prime perpetrators, we ourselves have lost 35,000 lives to militancy and terrorism since 9/11, as our forces, as of now, are fighting in the Zarb-e-Azb operation to destroy the safe havens of terrorists.
In spite of the psychological trauma and the ensuing rage and fury that America went through, its response was by and large that of fortitude and strength. For the most part! In the quest for simplified answers to the complex geo-political hodgepodge that abetted such desperate acts of terror, many Americans were led by opportunistic media pundits into believing Islam as being the enemy. While I know many friends whose colleagues and managers in the workplace went out of their way to offer assistance and protection in case of any discrimination or danger, the overall hysteria that ensued against Islam and Muslims was a Frankenstein that could not be contained. I believe the top most objective of terrorists, to intensify the “clash of civilizations”, was very successfully achieved.
Gold Dinar After 9/11
A natural fallout of this attitude was to look at any and everything related to Islam with suspicion, with the mosques suddenly seeming to be terrorist cells, and all bearded guys as extremists. The decades old, economically motivated, and completely apolitical currency reform movement for the gold dinar was itself not spared in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and a prominent analyst on CNBC claimed the gold dinar to be a conspiracy of Osama bin Laden to destroy the dollar. Today, when reports of ISIS launching its on gold currency are appearing in the media, I believe it’s important to give the world some history and perspective of the legitimacy of this movement, along with the reasons why it is so susceptible to be both misunderstood and maliciously co-opted.
Back in 2007, when the CNBC report on the gold dinar appeared, I had newly joined the movement and launched the very first American Dirhams and Dinars, so this perception of them being projected was greatly disturbing. To explain our position, I wrote an email directly to Mr Craig Smith, whose excerpts I reproduce below, as the need for this clarification has once again resurfaced in light of the “hijacking” of this idea by the ISIS militants:
“Dear Mr Craig
I’m a Pakistani Muslim, currently residing in the US. I’m also a strong follower of the Austrian School of economics, a tradition in which eminent economists like Murray Rothbard have advocated the adoption of gold currency. We are all aware of sound money advocates in the US government including Senator Ron Paul for example.
Although many people do not consider a return to a gold-backed currency possible, they still acknowledge the problem with over issuance of fiat currency, resulting in inflation, and are recommending people to hedge their savings in gold. I’m happy to see that you yourself have expressed similar views in your article “New Deal or No Deal”. You mentioned in this article that:
Obama will no doubt return to the same Democratic playbook to achieve his goals: bigger government, higher taxes, more spending and promising every citizen everything from health care to college education – welfare for everybody, including Wall Street.
But where will he get the money?
The printing press, of course. Unlike FDR, Obama will not be required to keep gold on deposit to create the money, but create he will. And the consequence will be the same: inflation.
Similarly, in the introduction of your book, Rediscovering Gold in the 21st Century, you mentioned:
“Rediscovering Gold in the 21st Century” was written to help readers …Understand why gold is timeless wealth and the basis for all money….. While most pundits were proclaiming ‘gold is dead’ as a viable investment, I begged to differ. My goal is to give the reader a simple roadmap to get ready for sweeping change in the gold and U.S. coin markets that will surprise virtually everyone
In light of your above quotes, one can easily conclude that you are suggesting to the American public to diversify their assets into gold, because excess money creation by governments will cause great inflation in future. This is an absolutely great advice. But what surprises me, rather disappoints me, is a somewhat double standard on your part: On the one hand, you recommend gold to US citizens, and on the other hand, you censor those outside US, especially one particular group of people, the Muslims, who dare to take this same advice to heart and start acting upon it.
In your article published at another place, you are suggesting that the gold dinar is a “threat to the US Dollar” and suggesting that it is actually “radical Islam” which is trying to convince Muslims to use the Gold Dinar instead of the Dollar. You also artificially try to link the random coincidence of the launch of the Gold Dinar in Malaysia to have happened within months of the September 11 tragedy, and conclude your article with the following words:
‘It is clear that the restoration of a gold and silver dinar is part of the mission of Islamic fundamentalist and, if successful, it could send the value of the U.S dollar spiraling downward…’
I respect the fact that many Americans’ world view has been altered significantly by terrorism and the political friction between our civilizations, and also appreciate the mind-set and backdrop from which your article comes from. I can tolerate a little journalist exaggeration also. But you must understand that such claims and statements on your part, not only serve to distort the reality, but serve negatively in improving our relations. I have no doubt that US’ readers of this article will walk away with a misplaced apprehension and a fundamentally flawed assessment of the gold dinar movement. But equally importantly, Muslim visitors to your website will walk away with a sense of having been betrayed and been subjected to undue bias on your part in trying to score an extra point against us on something which has remotely nothing to do with radical Islam. But if you genuinely believe this, and are truly unaware of the incorrect nuances of your article, please consider the following points:
1. The hallmark of American economic supremacy is the hard work, productivity and quality of the US products and services. It is through these that your nation has achieved wealth and earned reserve currency status for the US dollar. If now, your government abuses this reserve currency status by excessively printing money, and devaluing it, everyone else in the world has a right, strictly in line with the spirit of free market economy; to adopt bullion backed alternatives that can preserve their assets. In a free market, you should welcome competing currencies, and in this light, the dinar is no more different than the euro. Except of course if you want to make it a religious issue because we happen to be Muslims and advocate the dinar based on our culture and tradition. So if tomorrow the dinar movement starts calling itself the Krugerrand movement, or the American Buffalo movement, would that stop you from criticizing it?
2. If competing gold against the dollar is inherently a radical Islamist idea, then where do you place people like Ron Paul and economists like Mises, Hayek and Rothbard, who have spent their lives advocating for Sound Money?
3. If you really believe that the dinar movement is a contemporary idea being propped up by “al-Qaida and radical Islam coming out to destroy the west”, then how do you account for the 1400 year old teachings of Islam, that build upon the 3000 year old teachings of Judaeo-Christian tradition, that mandate the usage of gold currency, quotations in support of some of which you included in your article also. In fact, “Ribbit” itself is a Hebrew word that stands for usury, and is the root word from which it’s Arabic translation of Riba comes from, the prohibition of which is the primary driving force behind the dinar movement’s advocacy of adopting “sound money”, which inhibits the unbridled credit creation which has caused so much loss and misery to the American people recently.
The fact is, that the gold dinar is simply a culturally localized expression of the same economic ideas that have been proposed by thinkers and philosophers the world over, and trying to tainting this image by linking it with terrorism is severe dishonesty.
Thanks, Asif Shiraz”.
Reading my email again, I believe I had become a little too rude to Mr. Craig, but a thorough gentleman that he is, he responded kindly to my correspondence, and wrote back nothing short of what I expected of a true blood American:
Thank you for your thoughtful analysis.
You bring up very important and well defensible points that I shall consider in future articles.
I may have been a bit too harsh on the motive behind the Islamic world as to the basis for the Dinar.
As you so eloquently identify gold backed currencies are the only currencies prescribed by the Bible and Koran. I could only hope we as a nation would return to honest money system but the government calls the shots not me and the average person is uninformed.
I can tell you however when I wrote the Dinar article (2002/2003) it was in the wake of 911 …. I know 99.9% of Muslims are wonderful people and frankly far more moral and honest than many of the folks here in America. Muslims would never allow the immorality we produce in Hollywood etc. ….
Your arguments are reasonable and the dinar is a brilliant approach to a world awash with Fiat currencies and Muslims who use the dinar for savings and future buying power will be rewarded.
I have a great amount of respect for the Islamic world and their devotion to their beliefs. I think you will find that many of my writings after 911 were tinged with a bit of anger and fear for what could happen. …. Thank you for taking the time to write me. I am truly grateful that you did so and especially with the spirit in which you did. If you are ever in Phoenix I would like to meet you face to face and buy you a cup of coffee or tea.
Craig R. Smith”.
Gold Dinar and ISIS
The need to publish this private correspondence is to illustrate the possibility of how the American audience can easily misunderstand the Dinar movement, and start considering it hostile and radical. This is especially true because of last two weeks’ spate of articles that have appeared in the media on ISIS launching its own gold currency. The number of visitors these mainstream news reporting websites get is much larger than those who know about the legitimacy of the dinar movement. This presents a grave danger of renewing misunderstandings between our societies on this matter, and wrongly associating the dinar movement with ISIS, when it has nothing to do with it whatsoever. We must prevent this subconscious link between ISIS militants and gold dinar from being established in the American psyche, first by showing how the dinar movement is separate from and predates both Al-Qaeda and ISIS, and second by exposing why exactly is ISIS attempting to hijack this idea.
Around the middle of 20th century, when many of the Muslim nation states gained independence from colonial rule, their societal and political infrastructure had so completely transformed that religious scholarship had to play catch-up with this colossal metamorphosis for many years to come. In the field of finance, when the new states saw themselves inheriting all the western banking institutions, three distinct Academic responses quickly gained ground in the Muslim world: A group that favoured them just as they were (secular Bankers), a group that wanted to modify their operations, (the Islamic Bankers), and a group that favoured wholesale restructuring over patchwork modification, and wanted them to be developed from the ground up on Islamic principles (the gold dinar movement). The calls for currency reform in the Muslim world had started surfacing as back as the 1960s and before, when the first Islamic Bank had not even seen the light of day. Today, when Islamic Banking has been adopted far and wide by major financial institutions, the Dinar movement too has seen many successes in adoption like Malaysia and Indonesia. Much like Ron Paul’s campaign for liberty, grounded in economic thought of the Austrian School, the Dinar movement too is a peaceful campaign for reform, deriving its ideological strength from religious injunctions supporting sound money.
Muslims around the world have varying degree of passion, sympathy or apathy towards this movement, but it is particularly popular among religious groups, whose members are more conscious of the religious injunctions against usury, and consequently credit money systems. And it is this religious sentiment that ISIS wants to exploit, as part of its recruitment strategy.
Extremist groups have had a hard time selling their radical agenda to educated Muslims, which is one reason why they have traditionally survived only in war-torn countries with broken economies and education systems, like Sudan and Afghanistan. With many domestic campaigns against terrorism from eminent religious scholars in the Muslim world, radical groups scramble for ideological baits for getting some attention and following. And ISIS is doing exactly this: Seeing an original idea capable of evoking passionate sentiments, floundering in the hands of weak political leaders, they decided to pick it up and use it for furthering their political cause. This is nothing new for the larger Wahabi movement to which ISIS subscribes to. Not too long ago, the radical Wahabi movement of Saudi Arabia also adopted this technique of exploiting religious sentiments for tactical gains, when they married the extremist puritanical ideas of Ibn Abdul Wahab with the political ambitions of Ibne Saud, to found the Saudi Royal family, the prime exporter of radical ideology all around the world.
The Muslim world stands together in opposition to ISIS, but it is incumbent upon the West also to act discerningly and not confuse legitimate religious aspirations of the people with the pretensions of the militants. Elements of Islamic history and culture, that ISIS badly wants to co-opt for itself, must be kept separate from any guilt by association. The gold dinar movement is a peaceful campaign to raise awareness among Muslim leaders and public about the benefits of sound money system. We must ensure that such press coverage does not stigmatized legitimate Dinar producers like Dinar Wakala, Islamic Mint, Dinar Exchange, Wakala Nusantara, Dinar First, American Islamic Mint and E-Dinar.
Many Muslims wish to see Gold and Silver being adopted as the currency of choice in their country, and this sentiment must be respected, whether one’s economic thoughts agree on the matter or not. It is only by working together that we can overcome the radical elements from our societies, both Muslims and the West.
As Malcolm X put it, you can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom. The Muslim world yearns for this freedom, to forge our own path in the evolution of our social and financial institutions. The gold dinar, and adoption of its associated Islamic principles in our economies, is an important tenet of our faith, and western powers, as well as the people, must not confuse this with a blanket association with militancy, terrorism, or radicalization.
Courtesy: Dinar Wakala