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An engineer’s view of Islamic Finance

June 2, 2022

I spent two decades in construction and oil and gas services, and I can’t help looking at life through an engineer’s logical and scientific lens. Science never lies, is not diplomatic, and doesn’t care about feelings. It simply states facts.

As an engineer, Islamic Finance reminds me of a cofferdam – an enclosure built within a body of water to allow the enclosed area to be pumped out. This pumping creates a dry working environment so that the water can be carried out safely. Cofferdams are commonly used for the construction or repair of permanent dams, and – to me – the analogy seems appropriate.

What do I mean by all this? Well, look at the picture. The sea represents the world of interest-based finance that we live in, the cofferdam represents the relatively tiny yet growing Islamic finance industry, and the action of pumping water out of the cofferdam represents the efforts of well-wishing Islamic financial professional to purify, strengthen and grow Islamic finance by progressively removing the remaining conventional finance elements from within the Islamic finance industry.

Just like a cofferdam, creating a space for Islamic finance to grow requires the ability to simultaneously keep principles of Shariah-compliance while working within state regulations of the country one is operating in and following the “laws of the land” as far as possible without breaking Islamic principles. It’s not the end state but a step on a journey towards a world without riba.

The Holy Prophet, Muhammad (saww) said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded with; gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, and the nights.” – Sahih Bukhari

I have spent, so far, three years on the journey towards launching scalable halal finance in Canada. As an engineer, I am satisfied with the cofferdam foundations we have built, as an entrepreneur, I am energized as I begin to see the results in front of me, and as a Muslim, I am humbled and grateful in front of Allah (swt) having seen the hundreds of miracles that He has brought about in the form of help from unlikely sources, the removal of insurmountable obstacles, and most of all, in giving me the strength to not give up despite hearing the initial “NO” from almost every party that I spoke to.

Just as a gym workout strengthens our muscles, reading strengthens our minds, actions based on strong morals, the right intentions, and faith in Allah empowers our nafs (souls). To me, bringing Islamic Finance to Canada has been exactly what I needed to become a better entrepreneur, a more self-aware person, and a more faithful Muslim.

I pray that I am able to inspire my fellow Canadian Muslims and non-Muslims to join me in this amazing journey to one day be “near to perfection” inshAllah.

Ameen

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