Monday, April 20, 2009


Assalamualaikum. - article updated 20th April 2009 (malam)

Since becoming interested in gold, I've had differing opinions about e-gold. Actually, my opinion on the matter isn't important. What is important, is whether e-gold agrees with Islamic economics.

Have you noticed the words "Islamic economics" are never used, rather, the words "Islamic principles" are used in their place? I don't think this is simply a 'language' issue, but is done so by careful selection.

Today’s economic system, including that which claims to be "Islamic", is not what the prophet was exposed to. Neither is it a system he endorsed - If I am wrong, please let me know.

Shouldn't we be reluctant to believe that the economic system we have today, is simply because, as it is claimed, human society has 'developed'. Surely that poetic claim is illegitimate? The reason being: the act of buying and selling has never changed. It's a fundamental of human society.

Further, our "Islamic banking" didn't emerge during the history of Islam. No! It is the child of a non-Islamic mother. Isn't it the case that modern day banking was looked upon by Islamic eyes, leading to 'Islamic explanations' and interpretations of Islam to declare it (albeit with modifications) as being "Islamic". Has this child simply been given an Islamic name?

Isn't this why the term "Islamic principles" i.e. interpretation based (to which we are entitled to ask whose interpretation?) is used instead of "Islamic economics", i.e. the clear sunnah of the prophet?

So what of e-gold? Of course e-gold never existed in the time of the prophet, and so, as argued earlier, it shouldn't be classified as "Islamic economics" but as being in the realm of "Islamic principles" instead.

We should ask: "Is e-gold just a modernism that is questionable on Islamic grounds?" and does Allah(SWT) give us ley-way here for e-gold? Please note: I'm distinguishing e-gold from trade involving real actual physical gold,

I ask this question after having the privilege of attending an excellent talk yesterday by Dr. Ahamed Kameel [profile] at the Al-Hunafa' Association, Taman Tun Dr Ismail. Dr. Kameel proposed e-gold (backed by real gold in a custodians vault) as a method of trading. He mentioned 'swipe-card' local transactions and implied internet transactions. Dr. Kameel strongly and repeatedly recommended people to obtain physical gold also.

The essential questions are these:

(a) Is e-gold "Islamic economics"? - The answer is surely no (discussed earlier).

(b) Are 'Islamic principles' (the category under which e-gold falls) Islamic? - I conclude they can be, as Islam is a guide and does not address every single aspect of physical life and society. I also believe the large majority of 'official Islamic principles' are Islamic, but I am aware as to my pitiful qualification in making that assessment.

(c) Is e-gold in line with Islamic principles? It appears so. 'Fixing with gold' is the essential thing, but HOW it is fixed involves significant differences, and appearances can be deceptive. Generally, the human mind is poor at foreseeing the consequences of its actions, and Interpretation (i.e. what I described as Islamic principles) is fraught with the possibility of bid'ah (innovation). Bid'ah can take us away from the rope of Allah(SWT) so we must be very careful. [Note: there is a debate in itself, as to whether a interpretation of the Divine word can be fallible to error].

Assuming Islam can be conducted via interpretation/s, as seems to be the way the majority of the Muslim world operates, then if it yields harmony, justice and security and a rich environment of Islam to grow and strengthen in, then the interpretation probably was an allowance afforded to us by Allah(SWT). But personal bias must be put to the side, brains switched fully on and supplications given to try and predict likely outcomes before anything is embarked upon.

(d) Is e-gold better than physical trade in gold? I'd have to say no. It ends anonymous transactions, invites Islamic and non-Islamic governments to abuse their power. It allows the possibility of mass spying and other malevolent practices.

(e) Given the answer to part (d), why not simply use physical gold? Let me add at this point that silver and staple foods such as barley, sugar, dates etc, also serve as currency in Islamic economics. Bill Still, director and narrator of the admiral 3.5 hour epic “The Money Masters” is against use of physical gold because he says of it's nature as a limited resource, but Bill did not address the frequency of exchange / turnover factor, and besides, isn't there already enough gold for everyone? Why does anyone need a large amount of money?

I have contemplated physical gold as providing a mechanism to resist/impede megalithic companies from doing what they do so visibly today. I see physical gold as empowering the small local man on the street to be the vice-president of his own company (Allah of course is it's president).

Physical gold as a currency inherently ties it to a locality. Instead of ordering a book about Japan from and paying for it in e-gold, you go to your local bookshop and physically hand over the physical gold to him when he passes you the book, or, you pay an additional small fee to a delivery company to bring it to your doorstep and the delivery man ensures the gold (minus his service fee) is delivered to the local bookshop. The point is, it takes a while for physical gold to leave an area, and its longevity should continue to bring benefit.

I think local economies populated by small businesses are far better for a wholesome way of life - an Islamic way of life - than is offered by big mega companies, whose benefits are largely dishonest propaganda, repeated without due thought by numerous people. The supped benefits big companies bring (e.g. a creator o jobs) would actually equally apply to small businesses taking the place of a large business. Nobody seems to mention what happens to those jobs when the large companies 'tax free' period expires or when a new source of cheap labor is found in some poor highly populated country in the world.

The very existence of ‘Monopolies commissions’ reveals people know the dangers of large businesses.

e-gold would rapidly nullify the 'persistence of gold in the local area' issue, resulting in e-gold delivering a lot of what we already see in today’s global economy.

Do we really want that?

I don't think Islamic economics solely teaches against Riba (Interest rates, fractional reserve banking and fiat currency) and nothing else. My understanding for what it's worth, sees Islamic economics as supporting local sustainability which is going to be ever more important with the onset of peak-oil.

These are my personal ideas from which I hope to learn from, and are not necessarily views associated with that of "thegolddinar" blog.




Mark Herpel said...

I like instead of e-gold.


Penggerak Dinar Emas said...

Peace be upon you Mark.

Are you saying there is a distinction between e-gold and the e-dinar or is just a matter of preferential labelling?

Actually the article, and the site is about gold in the context of the dinar, ergo e-gold being in the context of the e-dinar.

Does it not concern you that by allowing others to physically hold your gold you face a wipe-out should another 1933 or even 2001(Argentina) come about? At least if you are in physical possession of your gold, you are better placed to utilize that gold while you have the chance.


lwtc247 said...


Prof Kameel is still active in giving talks about the geoeconomics and gold. You can see one of his later talks here:

Rifcon Seminar at Singgahsana Hotel - Surviving economic meltdown 2012