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The fable goes like this.
A stray dog fell in the village well and died. The villagers came to know about it when they found smell coming out of the well. They looked inside and could see the dead dog floating on the water surface.
The villagers had three issues now. One, it was the only well they had so they could not abandon it. Two, the dog was considered unclean by religion and that meant the entire water of the well became unclean (Na Paak). Three, the bad smell was a problem and could not be ignored.
The village elders sat together but could not reach a unanimous decision, so they decided to contact the Prayer Leader (Imam) for advice and guidance. The Imam listened intently and moved his head up and down several times to signify the seriousness of the matter. The Imam then got up, went inside his house and returned after some time. He declared that he had consulted the shariah books and found the solution. The villagers waited eagerly. The Imam said that the villagers should take out forty buckets from the well and it would make the water clean (Paak) again. The villagers were very happy to see such an easy solution. They returned and deputed few able-bodied youngsters to take out forty buckets, which they did rather promptly.
Happy and Blissful, the villagers started using water freely. However, the smell became fouler and intolerable and some people also fell sick. The concerned villagers returned to the Imam and told him that they had done exactly what he had prescribed. But the problems were persisting. The Imam scratched his head and went inside to consult the books again. He returned after some time and said that they had forgotten the critical step. They had to take the dead dog out first and then draw out forty buckets.
The villagers did as directed and lived happily ever after. Moral of the story; Take out the root cause of rot first before applying cleaning solutions.
The moral is not too complicated, but it is mostly forgotten, or ignored, or left out because it may involve hassle.
Covid19 is here and we are all extremely worried, rather terrified. We are fighting an invisible enemy and we are not sure how to protect ourselves. We are taking precautions which are unproven as yet. If, God Forbid, anyone contracts COVID19, there is no definite treatment. This is a an extremely bizarre situation the like of which mankind had not seen before. We, with all our science and wisdom and equipment and money and resources and might have become powerless and worthless. It is a very tough time no doubt. In such times, the believers are strongly pulled toward prayer. It is not important what the belief is. We, the Muslims are among the first to bow before Allah. We are offering alms, doing charity, paying zakat and making long prayers. We are asking for Allah’s forgiveness at all levels which is equivalent to taking out forty buckets of water. But what about the dead dog? Well, it Is probably still there.
The Dead Dogs are bribery, hoarding, overpricing, undue profiteering, Injustice, unfairness and cruelty which are still rampant all around. Do we think that drawing forty buckets or even multiples of it will make the uncleanliness wash away? Think again please.
Let me share a personal anecdote. After I had understood Allah’s injunctions about ‘Interest’ or ‘sood’, I went ahead and mortgaged a house. The interest rate was highest at that time but that was not the primary issue. The core issue was that I had chosen to pay interest after I knew it was wrong. I got the house and started paying instalments. We had the house for four years, but we never lived in it even for a day. I had taken 4.5 million rupees from the bank for a period of 15 years. The monthly instalment was around 45,000 rupees per month. Over time, I became more and more cash strapped and the instalment felt heavier though I earned enough to pay it. I still persisted in my folly and kept suffering for almost four long years. After about three and a half years, I realized I have made myself fall into a ditch by choice. I desperately wanted to get out of the whole thing. I promised to Allah to dispose it off and pay back the bank loan. I put it up for sale. The property prices had not yet appreciated which they did a year later. I put up the condition that I would take at least 50% up front, if not all. It took couple of months to get a serious buyer who agreed to pay 50%. I told them about mortgage and that I would release it before receiving the balance payment. Allah helped and it happened smoothly. Financial summary; I paid 2.0 million to bank as instalment, they adjusted 1.6 million against Interest and 0.4 million against Capital. All in all, including insurance and fees and what not, I lost about 2.0 million. A large sum for me, but I am so much grateful to Allah that He helped me out of it. I still ask for His Forgiveness for the deliberate wrong I did. I do not own a house, but I am happy and contented. This is a classical ‘Dead Dog’ case. If I had not taken the dead dog out, and kept taking out forty buckets, I may still be doing it, and dying of toil.
May Allah make us understand the spirit and keep us on the path of the righteous. Aameen.
Dear Mr. Qureshi,
Like always, it is an interesting read.
Few of my questions that keep on bothering me as the satisfying answer are yet to see are as under.
1. I am employed by a multinational company at a senior management position. It is a public listed company in US and Germany with very stringent business compliance policy. Our compliance policy restricts us entering into any [active] JV for additional source of income due to many obvious reasons like conflict of interest, distraction etc. In our company, the retirement age is 60 years. I am above 50 years now. I have accumulated some meager saving for my own future and for the education and marriages of my kids. The challenge to invest my saving in such a way that, at least, I can combat the inflation which is double digit nowadays?
2. One option was to invest in some ‘Mudarba’ arrangement. I did that few years ago in a running business with one of my uncles. This was not a pleasant experience at all. I was successful in getting my money back in small installments. It took me two and a half year to get my principal amount back. Due to this experience, I am afraid of investing my saving in any private venture without any security which is absent in majority of the cases.
3. A part of my saving, I invested in real estate. This business is not so attractive nowadays. Liquidity is also not easy. I purchased one house and rented it. The rent amount is reasonable to count but the depreciation of the house is a hidden cost. The renovation of the house after every year or two eats up a big chunk of the rental amount.
4. I do not want to invest my saving into any scheme based on speculation like prize bonds, stocks etc.
The only option I can think of is putting my saving into some bank scheme based on PLS principle. This, I am sure, is the challenge many of the professionals facing. May I seek your advice on it.
Lahore – Pakistan
Javaid sahib! I am certainly not a religious scholar to make a qualified recommendation. What I know is this. All PLS, Modarba, Musharka, Islamic Financing are not Shariah-based ; these are Shariah-compliant. There is a difference. Compliant means these have been amended in name and some working to somehow comply to Shariah. It is like when you lease a car from Islamic bank, you pay rental monthly but not the usual installment. Everything is same except the name. The cleanest option is business. If you choose, you have the freedom to do it in the most pious way. My previous company Genetics has 3 billion rupee business but they do not use interest based payments. They have not taken any running finance facility for the same reason. I once had a discussion when we had come to a crunch situation. He said I don’t even want to have the facility. If it is available it will be used some time. This is the kind of possibility.