Islamic Finance and Banking: How It All Began

financeBackground of the system

The first experiment of Islamic banking started in1963, when Mit Ghamr Saving Bank began a project offering interest free banking in Egypt. The project was a success and led the bank to open four new branches by 1967. In the same year, eight new banks started offering interest free banking.

It was the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) summit in 1974, in Lahore, Pakistan that fostered the concept of an “Islamic bank” and recommended the creation of an Islamic Development Bank. There are estimated to be over 200 Islamic financial institutions all over the world. The industry is said to be growing at rate of 15% per annum. Not only do a number of Islamic countries such as, Kuwait, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Malaysia, Brunei, Bangladesh and Pakistan have Islamic financial institutions, but many non-Muslim countries also house Islamic institutions. Some of these non-Muslim countries include USA, UK, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, and Sri Lanka. Major international conventional banks, such as Citibank, ANZ Grindlays, ABN Amro, HSBC, and Standard Chartered also have Islamic windows.

Islamic banking in Pakistan

Financial institutions in Pakistan seem to follow a cautious “wait and see” approach towards Islamic banking. A number of key players have obtained a license for conducting Islamic banking operations. These include: Meezan Bank Limited, Faysal Bank Limited, Al Baraka Islamic Bank and First Islamic Investment Bank. Meezan Bank is already operating as the first Islamic bank of Pakistan since May 1, 2002 when it acquired the Pakistani operations of Societe Generale. Other banks, including Habib Bank, Habib Bank AG Zurich, National Bank of Pakistan and United Bank Limited, are in the process of initiating Islamic banking products. Muslim Commercial Bank has already set up a dedicated Islamic banking branch.

Efforts towards establishing an Islamic economic system really took off after the Supreme Court’s judgment in the latter half of 1999, ordered the government to abolish the ‘interest-based system’ and establish an alternative Shariah-based system. For the launch of Islamic banking in the country, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has given three options, i.e., to establish an independent Islamic bank, to establish subsidiaries of the existing banks or any commercial bank or to set up stand-alone branches. The stand-alone branches would have to carry business only in the Islamic banking area where both deposit and grant of loans would be according to Islamic injunctions. The development of Prudential Regulations for Islamic banking is already in process. The SBP is also working towards the establishment of an Islamic banking division. The launch of Islamic T-bills, known as Ijarah Sukook, is already under serious consideration in order to solve the liquidity problems of Islamic banks.

These instruments are being developed at a rapid pace. The huge market potential for Islamic products is proof of the fact that the efforts of these entities are bearing fruit. Moreover, while the current conventional financial system has had years to reach the maturity it enjoys now, a modern model of Islamic finance has only been developing over the past few decades.  As difficulties arise and are resolved, the industry is sure to ripen.

Summer Fun For Everyone

Fun can mean different things to different people, and it differs across the globe.  Naba Basar shares delightful ways to have family fun this summer.

Many people think of ‘fun’ only in terms of Haram things or behaviours. It certainly does not have to be this way. Allah has made clear to us what is allowed and what is forbidden. In the following Ayah, He warns us:

“O you who believe! Make not unlawful the Taiyibat (all that is good as regards foods, things, deeds, beliefs, persons, etc.) that which Allah has made lawful to you, and transgress not. Verily, Allah does not like transgressors” (Al-Maidah 5:87).

FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

Indoor Games

When was the last time you played “Pictionary,” “Scrabble,” or “Checkers” together as a family? You may be surprised, how parents transform into kids, when they celebrate victories over their children.

On the Road

There are always interesting places we have never seen and yet others that we hold in special memories and would like to return to. A trip for performing Umra can become a great vacation. Field trips to farms and factories are not only fun but also educational.

Camping

Summer is a superb time for camping, both with family and friends. While pitching tents, building fires, fishing, boating, or hiking, nobody will find the time to get bored.

Conventions

Get on the ball and keep track of all the conventions and workshops. There are many to choose from. Select a few with the most interesting themes and plan ahead for attending them. Conventions are great for meeting new friends.

Libraries

Encourage imagination of your children by reading books to them. Check with your local library and sign up your kids for a summer reading program. During summer, most bookstores have sales, where you can buy books on cheaper rates. Your local library can also provide ideas for summertime activities within the city.

TEEN TIME

Biking

Dust off the bikes in the garage and find a path in a park. Organize competitions, hold races, or time the laps.

Bowling

An exciting and interesting way for teens to have fun. This activity works great for both small and large groups.

Cooking Dishes of Native Cuisines

An innovative way to learn about different parts of the world. Search for recipes online, in your local library, or at bookstores.

E-pals from Muslim Countries

In chat rooms, teens can find good Muslim e-pals. By making friendships all around the world, your children will expand their worldview and learn new languages. However, this activity does require the supervision of parents.

Community service

Volunteer your time and services to help out others in need and support. It is a great learning opportunity, which will strengthen the Deen of your children.

JUST FOR KIDS

Backyard Campouts

Let your children invite over their friends; grab a tent, some sleeping bags, and flashlights. Do not forget mosquito repellents!

Painting

You can prepare homemade finger-paints by mixing together soap flakes, water, and food colours.

Pet Detective

Teach your children to observe an animal or an insect for a day. Discuss with them the observations.

Islamic Timeline

Record the discoveries of Muslim scientists. This is an educational yet interesting project.

Zoos

Always a fun place to go to for seeing Allah’s creatures.

Museums and Art Galleries

Visits to museums and art galleries will allow your children to explore different cultures and to develop a taste for art.

Parks and Beaches

Take advantage of your local parks, playgrounds, beaches, and lakes. You can have picnics every week or every month.

Special Children – A Gift of Allah

Vol 1-Issue 2  Special Children“Congratulations! When is the bundle of joy set to arrive?” is the usual inquiry Sara was faced with sixteen years ago just before the birth of her second son. Little did she realize her son Hilal would be a special child – he was afflicted with autism.

Most parents are apprehensive to hear the news that their child might be disabled. Usually, they go through the steps of denial, blaming each other, bargaining with Allah, rationalizing, and finally arriving to acceptance. They have feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, and anger. Why them? How will they manage? Will they be able to adjust? Sara recalls being haunted by all these questions. She would read the Quran for inspiration. “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. ‘Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us; our Lord! Put not on us burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Maula (Protector) and give us victory over the disbelieving people.’” (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

When parents finally accept that their child might need extra help, they are at a loss of where to turn to. A student pursuing her Masters in this field recommends that the child get his IQ tested. In Karachi, the most reliable place to have this done is the Aga Khan Medical Center.

Once the psychologist has determined the cause of child’s limitations, the hunt for the proper institute begins. Just as there are numerous handicaps a child can face, there also are many institutes that specialize in some or all of them. Following is a list of institutes that are tried and tested by various parents and professionals. Special education professionals recommend that you personally visit the institute, get familiar with its policies, and inform the entire staff, from the van driver to the child’s teachers, of your particular situation. As with any child, each case is special and each child has his own learning curve. One important point to remember is that parents should not be discouraged by the slow learning rate of their child. It has been known for a child to take four years to learn the English alphabet.

There are several obstacles parents usually face, while caring for a special child:

EXPENSES

Parents of disabled children face three times the costs of parents of non-disabled children. It is usually the little things that add to the expenses, such as extra bed sheets, special food, medical attention, and supplies.

EMPLOYMENT

In the 21st century, we are slowly moving from single working parent to a two working parent family. With the arrival of a disabled child, special attention is required for his care. One or both parents have to compromise their careers, in order to provide adequate around the clock attention for their child.

HOUSING

Special children have special needs. Take the example of a blind child, the house he lives in should be designed to suit his needs, making it easy for him to lead as normal life as possible. However, parents can hardly afford such drastic changes to their homes.

EDUCATION

There are numerous foundations in Karachi that work for and with the disabled. However, most parents cannot afford the high cost of these institutions. In fact, most of the institutions have limited space and hundreds of children have to wait or suffer with inadequate care. The fees of some such institutions begin from Rs.9500 monthly.

SUPPORT

Several parents have showed their concern that there are not enough support groups sponsored by NGO’s or foundations dedicated to help the disabled children. A special education graduate said that the institutions usually do not want to get closely involved with the parents. They let the parents form their own network and support groups. There is no counselling available for these parents either.

The most important thing a parent should realize is that they must make their child as self sufficient as possible. Vocational skills, such as carpentry or weaving, will help the child to earn a living. Handling of money, managing critical household chores, and not losing confidence about him are the essential basics a special child should be taught.

Make sure your child feels important – if you give your child attention, so will everyone else. Train everyone around your child to deal with any difficult situations that might arise. One parent claims that her child is not socially very adept, so she works on developing his social skills by inviting the neighbourhood kids over to play. She entices them with pizza, burgers, and a play station. As always, a sense of humor is paramount to leading a stress free life.

Often, a question comes to mind: “What helps?” Several things can be implemented to help parents to make the transition for taking care of a special needs infant and adult. Parents are not the only ones who require help and counselling. The extended family should also be involved, so the child has a healthy environment to grow in. If anybody else takes care of the special child for an hour or so, parents can get away and have some time for rejuvenating themselves. Extended family members can also help by spending the time with the parents and the child as well as by taking care of the normal siblings. It is an opportunity to create stronger family bonds.

It is not easy to bring up a child; bringing up a special needs child is ten times more energy consuming and mentally draining. However, the reward of a smile, a hint of understanding, and a new skill developed makes it all worthwhile. This is your opportunity to create and strengthen the family ties. Encourage your other children to help a sibling in need. The single most important virtue is patience, depend on it, and you will emerge triumphant with a socially integrated, confident, and self-sufficient child, Insha’Allah.

Mini-Garden in the City

Vol 1-Issue 2  Mini-GardenMany city dwellers would be familiar with this sentiment due to lack of experience in gardening, shortage of space for starting a garden, or simply because of not enough time or money for making such a major effort. Well, there is good news for you out there! Micro-gardening is the answer to your dreams.

What is micro-gardening? Maggie Heeger, a micro-gardening enthusiast from Alabama, defines it as “growing your own plants-food or flowers-in containers rather than in a plot of ground”. It is as simple as that! You can make your micro-garden as big or small as you wish with no major investments and no exhausting time commitments.

Micro-Gardening.com, offers three easy steps for getting started:

1- Making or finding the right containers

Containers should be able to hold enough (1) growing mixture and (2) water for the plants and should have (3) good drainage. You can use barrels, baskets, concrete urns, crocks and glazed ceramic pots, plastic pots, sacks, tires, tubs, wheel barrows, wire baskets, wooden boxes (caution-susceptible to rot). The size of the container must meet the requirements of the veggies you intend to plant.

Generally, containers for vegetables need to be between 15 and 120 qt. capacity (15 qt. = 866 cubic inches or a 12″x 12″x 6″ high container; 120 qt. = 6930 cubic inches or a 24″x 24″x 12″ high or 20″x 20″x 18″ high container).

2- Preparing Growing Mixture

The happiness, health, and successful growth of your veggies will greatly depend on planting them into a good growing mixture. “Soils for containers need to have three key elements. They must be well drained, have good aeration (pore spaces for air), and retain enough water to maintain good growth”.

The easiest way to go is to buy ready-made container mixes. A wide variety of selections are available in the market; however, the ones to look out for are those referred to as ‘soilless’ mixes or synthetic soils, as they are “best suited for vegetable container gardening”. Note, however, that the soilless mixes require you to make some extra effort on watering and fertilizing your veggies.

If you wish to have a mixture that does have a part of soil in it, then “mix together one part good garden soil, one part peat moss, and one part perlite or coarse builders sand” (Soil Mixes). This 1:1:1 combination is more forgiving regarding watering and fertilizing.

Now, it is time to get down to planting. As you fill your containers with the growing mixture, make sure to leave about one inch from the top for the needs of water. Also, just before planting your veggies, wet the growing mixture thoroughly.

3- Choosing Vegetables

 It might be surprising to find out that just about any vegetable is suitable for growing in a container. The ideal ones are those with a quick maturing period. Some suitable ones are tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, leaf lettuce, green onions, green beans, radishes, parsley, and cucumbers.

Before selecting the place for bigger size fixed containers, you should note that most vegetables would need quite a long stretch of sunlight-at least 6 hours per day. If you intend to plant tomatoes or cucumbers, you should count on up to 8 hours of required sunlight. In this case, a good idea would be smaller and more mobile containers, which you would be able to move along with the sun during the day. On the other hand, root crops, such as beets and carrots, are easier to please-they will do well with only 4 to 5 hours of sunlight. Cabbage, lettuce, and other leafy vegetables are the most modest in their requirements-they can tolerate the most shade.

Container Tips

  • Avoid containers with narrow openings.
  • Adequate drainage holes should be ½ inch.
  • Cover the drainage holes with chards (broken pot pieces), screen material, or 2 to 4 layers of newspaper to keep the plant material from seeping out but still allow adequate drainage.
  • Set containers on bricks or blocks to allow free drainage.
  • Light-colored containers lessen heat absorption in hot climates and discourage uneven root growth.
  • Keep baskets away from the afternoon sun.
  • Metal or thin plastic containers may allow the sun to heat up the plant mixture. If you use these consider putting or setting something around the pot to block direct sunlight”

 

Planting together companion vegetables can significantly increase your harvest

Vegetables Companions Enemies
1. Beans Celery, cucumbers Onions, fennel
2. Beets Bush beans, lettuce, onions, kohlrabi, cabbage Pole beans, mustard
3. Cabbage Celery, dill, onions, potatoes Strawberries, tomatoes, pole beans
4. Carrots Leaf lettuce, radish, onions, tomatoes Dill
5. Corn Pumpkins, peas, beans, cucumbers, potatoes Tomatoes
6. Cucumbers Corn, peas, radishes, beans, sunflowers Aromatic herbs, potatoes
7. Lettuce Onions, strawberries, carrots, radishes, cucumbers
8. Onions Lettuce, beets, strawberries, tomatoes Peas, beans
9. Peas Carrots, cucumbers, corn, turnips, radishes, beans, potatoes, aromatic herbs Onions, garlic, leek, shallots
10. Radishes Beets, carrots, spinach, parsnips, cucumbers, beans Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi, turnips
11.Squash Icicle radishes, cucumbers, corn
12.Tomatoes Carrots, onions, parsley Cabbage, cauliflower