By Danish Reyaz :
Mufti Barakatulla has been working as a lecturer in Ebrahim College, UK and maintains Freefone Islamic Helpline 0800 328 1408. He graduated in Islamic Studies from Darul Uloom Deoband, India where he obtained the training of Mufti (A Muslim Scholar issues decree) in 1974. He successfully completed M. Phil in Islamic Finance from UK and appointed as a judge in Islamic Sharia Council of UK. He has an extensive experience of dealing with Socio-Culture issues of Muslim in UK and Europe. He is the member of Sharia Advisory Committee of United National Bank, Arab Banking Corporation, Lloyds TSB and Islamic Bank UK. He was interviewed during his recent visit to ‘Bhiwandi’ a contiguous city of Mumbai Metropolitan.
Q: Where did you spend your childhood, please tell us about your family background also?
A: Our ancestral native is AhmedNagarVillage in District Partap Garh, Uttar Pradesh. My father Late Abdul Qadir Sardar migrated to Mumbai in search of better job opportunities and lived in Bhiwandi which is famous for textile industries. He started working in the same sector as power loom labour. My elder brother Amanatullah Abdul Qadir took the charge of entire business in my father’s old age. I was admitted in Hisdustani Masjid (Mosque) for preliminary education. I with my one brother obtained religious education and rest two brothers studied medical science. Our father and brother late Amanatullah Abdul Qadir helped my brothers for higher education.
Q: Which elements helped you in your life?
A: In my early life, Mr. R. K. Abdullah, a well known person of Bhiwandi helped me a lot. In 1975, when I was serving in Hisdustani Masjid (Mosque) as a teacher, Mr. Abdullah came to me with a letter from Rabita, World Muslim League, Makka, written in Arabic. He wanted to know the translation of the letter, which was related to issue of Palestine, he asked me to answer the letter as well. In the same period, a Bengali fellow named Muhammad Muttalib asked me some amount for his passport and he documented my passport also. When Mr. Abdullah came to know about my passport he offered me to go to Saudi Arabia for strengthening the Palestinian cause. I also want to mention that at the same time Late Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi issued an order in favour of contraception. I went to Darul Uloom Deoband for obtaining a decree against this act. Resultantly, I was sacked from my service. I was bachelor and had no job so I accepted the Mr. Abdullah’s offer immediately. In 1976, he sent me to Saudi Arabia after paying my fare i.e. 35, 00 INR. I performed Hajj and stayed there. Mr. R. K. Abdullah had published books on the cause of Palestine and freighted by ship and I was supposed to sell those books in Saudi. When I received the shipment, Mr. Kamaal Halbawi a well known person in kingdom, certified those books as asset to Muslim world so the Saudi administration purchased all books after certification. During my stay in Saudi Arabia, Late Dr. Kaleem Siddiqui (Leader Muslim Parliament, UK) helped me to get stay permit. He also advised me to improve my command over English and offered a visit to London. I married in the same year and went to London on scholarship for the completion of intermediate studies. Later, I received scholarship from Abu Dhabi till Graduation and IIIT sponsored me for Post Graduation. I completed PG in IT (Information Technology) and initiated my business of developing Islamic Software and introduced them in UK and across United States.
Q: What is difference between Islamic Financial Services and Islamic Banking?
A: Banking is the part of financial service and having many levels. The financial service consists of Islamic Insurance, Investment and savings.
Q: How do you find Islamic Banking in India?
A: The negative environment is created after using terminology of ‘Islamic Banking’ and now its prospects aren’t encouraging. Therefore, we have to move cautiously and make an initiative from a grass hood level. The two wholesale and insurance companies have been bankrupted in UK because the ground realities were not suitable. I conceive whoever enters in the filed of Islamic Banking must be equipped with long term planning and optimism. The prospect of Islamic Banking has been bright in Middle East as the people’s mindset and ground realities are completely compatible.
Q: Why non Muslims are paying more attention in Islamic Banking than Muslims?
A: The concept of ‘Ethical Finance’ is very common, wherein the investors, brokers and buyers haven’t been Muslims. They designed every Islamic Product in a better manner. Unfortunately, there in no culture of Financial Management among Muslims due to backwardness. The Non Muslim bankers are very active in marketing. For Instance, TATA Group has the data for next seventeen years as the ‘Ethical Fund’ is as large as Shariah Fund. The international Shariah Fund of Shariah Finance is founded and the preparations for International Research and Convocation are on the way.
Q: Why many Muslims seem to be not interested in Islamic Banking?
A: We believe that the Islam is complete way of life. People have their own lives and their social system. There is no compulsion in Islam. Everyone may take part in Shariah Fund.
Q: Why have we failed in taking those measures that could strengthen the economy of Islam?
A: Muslims have misrepresented Islam in every aspect of life. The message of Islam is global. A Customer, an Investor and a manager always opt their benefit, people will certainly come closer if all three categories are benefited. Today, many non Muslim countries are confused and frightened and they want to stay away from Islamic world due to word ‘Fatwa’ (Decree). Once we are succeeded to explain the importance of our message properly then we shall win their confidence. The people are active in this regard and we are hoping a change.
Q: Why the people have come closer towards Islamic Finance after recession?
A: The people have come to understand the deceit of current financial system which is completely based upon interest. The World Bank and IMF have started researching in Islamic Banking and taken serious actions against gambling in stock market and trading. In UK & US, short selling has been banned and it happened because of Shariah regulation. The people have started research in the area of ‘High Risk’ factors.
Q: How the Islamic Trading may fulfill people’s expectation however its credibility has been flunked several times in near past?
A: Yes, it is a concern and I conceive that the measures must be taken with positive mental attitude. We have experienced many failures due to lack of apprehension and transparency. The term ‘Islam’ is being exploited for personal interest and it spread dismay in market consequently. Now the regularity system has developed confidence in investors and we are expecting a new change.