News / Africa

Islamic Banking Divides Nigerian Religious Leaders

School children walk past a mosque in central Maiduguri, capital of Borno State (July 2010 file photo)
School children walk past a mosque in central Maiduguri, capital of Borno State (July 2010 file photo)

Nigeria is introducing Islamic banking to bring more of the nation's estimated 70 million Muslims into the economy. But many prominent Christian leaders say it will further inflame religious violence.

How it works

Islamic law prohibits paying or receiving interest or investing in businesses that provide goods or services that are contrary to Islamic principles.

That has led to the creation of interest-free, Islamic banking in more than 50 nations where customers share in profits and losses. In an Islamic mortgage, for example, the bank buys the house then resells it at a higher price, allowing the new homeowner to pay in installments.

Ziyad Muhammad of the Islamic Finance Institute of South Africa says Islamic banking is about creating wealth for the community.

“The ultimate objective is to ensure that anything that is introduced by the entrepreneur is done for the benefit of the community at large,” he said.

Muhammad took part in a Central Bank of Nigeria conference meant to counter Christian opposition to the introduction of Islamic banking.

Christian criticism

The Christian Association of Nigeria says the move violates the country's secular constitution and comes at a dangerous time when security forces are battling Islamic fundamentalists who are fighting for an independent nation ruled by Islamic law.

At the St. Peter Claver Catholic church, Father Paul Anyansi recognizes the potential economic benefits of Islamic banking but believes its dangers are far greater.

“We have too many religious tensions in terms of Islam against Christians. So it could stir up more. This is not the time for it," he said. "The policies for Islamic banking are good in the sense where there is no loan and interest. It doesn't go against the beliefs of the Islams. But what we are trying to say is that this country is not mature for it now.”

Father Anyansi says Christian leaders understand that Islamic banking works in other countries and might eventually work in Nigeria, but not right now.

“It could be as effective as it is England, as it is in America, as it is in Malaysia or countries where it is operated. But for now, we are still growing. A lot of people are not accepting their brother as their brother. They are not accepting the differences between religions. It will create more problems than more gains,” he said.

Secular vs Islamic

Human rights activist Oke Adheke says Nigeria can not run on both a secular system and an Islamic system.

“The moment they gave it a religious coloration it is not good for this country. Islamic banking by the name is not good for this country. Let them give us banking products that they believe are good for the ordinary man. The problem with this country is that we introduce too many funny things and tell stories about them, yet they don't work,” said Adheke.

Banker Solomon Osiobe says people are afraid of Islamic banking because it is new, but he believes it can help the economy if everyone understands its rules.

“Let's give it a chance because it has its advantages and disadvantages. If the rules are set out to be followed by the people who are to be served and there is public alertment, this banking system can go on,” he said.

Alternative

In this time of religious tension, Jaiz International Bank's Mohammed Mustapha Bintube says, Nigeria needs an alternate method of financing based on fairness, equity, and transparency.

“Islamic banks also, deliberately, we don't finance anything that is harmful to society. So we only look for projects that make positive impact in people's lives,” he said.

Nigeria's Conference of Islamic Organizations says opposition to Islamic banking is ignorant and insincere as it says some political leaders are trying to link Islamic financing to terrorism at a time when London and Paris are competing to be the center of Islamic banking.

The Christian Association of Nigeria says it will challenge the introduction of Islamic banking in court.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid