Islamic Finance: A Primer

This is an attempt at compiling some basic information widely available online as it relates to Islamic Finance:

Islamic Finance – a Wikipedia article
This is a very good starting point with excellent external links

A good general resource on Islamic Finance with access to the German newsletter of Islamic Finance

Islamic Mortgages
An interesting article documenting a recent trend in the U.K. towards Islamic Mortgages with an interesting pop-up highligting the various cash flows emerging from the traditional mortgage and the Islamic Mortgage

Islamic Financing: Basics and Overview
A PowerPoint presentation by Luma Zetani

Islamic Finance etcetera
A selection of various articles provided by Nubank covering various issues as they relate to Islamic Finance


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Berkeley Teach-Ins Against the War: Israel’s War on Lebanon

Video recordings of September’s teach-in regarding the War in Lebanon are now available on Google Video. Because of bandwidth limitations, we cannot offer the original high-quality video and audio recordings to the general public on this host; however, if you would like to download either the video or the consolidated audio, please send your request to and we will respond with more information promptly.  

Part I – Introduction, Saba Mahmood, Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley


Part II – Charles Hirschkind, Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley


Part III – Judith Butler, Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley


Part IV – Zeina Zaatari, Program Officer for the Middle East and North Africa, The Global Fund for Women


Part V – Beshara Doumani, Professor of History, UC Berkeley


Part VI – Question and Answer Session

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The Native Informant: A Profile of Fouad Ajami

The Native Informant
by Adam Shatz
The Nation
[from the April 28, 2003 issue]

Late last August, at a reunion of Korean War veterans in San Antonio, Texas, Dick Cheney tried to assuage concerns that a unilateral, pre-emptive war against Iraq might “cause even greater troubles in that part of the world.” He cited a well-known Arab authority: “As for the reaction of the Arab street, the Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation in Basra and Baghdad, the streets are sure to erupt in joy.” As the bombs fell over Baghdad, just before American troops began to encounter fierce Iraqi resistance, Ajami could scarcely conceal his glee. “We are now coming into acquisition of Iraq,” he announced on CBS News the morning of March 22. “It’s an amazing performance.”

If Hollywood ever makes a film about Gulf War II, a supporting role should be reserved for Ajami, the director of Middle East Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. His is a classic American success story. Born in 1945 to Shiite parents in the remote southern Lebanese village of Arnoun and now a proud naturalized American, Ajami has become the most politically influential Arab intellectual of his generation in the United States. Condoleezza Rice often summons him to the White House for advice, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, a friend and former colleague, has paid tribute to him in several recent speeches on Iraq. Although he has produced little scholarly work of value, Ajami is a regular guest on CBS News, Charlie Rose and the NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, and a frequent contributor to the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. His ideas are also widely recycled by acolytes like Thomas Friedman and Judith Miller of the Times.

Ajami’s unique role in American political life has been to unpack the unfathomable mysteries of the Arab and Muslim world and to help sell America’s wars in the region. A diminutive, balding man with a dramatic beard, stylish clothes and a charming, almost flirtatious manner, he has played his part brilliantly. On television, he radiates above-the-frayness, speaking with the wry, jaded authority that men in power admire, especially in men who have risen from humble roots. Unlike the other Arabs, he appears to have no ax to grind. He is one of us; he is the good Arab.

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Chomsky: A Free Global South?

Latin America and Asia are at last breaking free of Washington’s grip

The US-dominated world order is being challenged by a new spirit of independence in the global south

Noam Chomsky
Wednesday March 15, 2006
The Guardian

The prospect that Europe and Asia might move towards greater independence has troubled US planners since the second world war. The concerns have only risen as the “tripolar order” – Europe, North America and Asia – has continued to evolve.

Every day Latin America, too, is becoming more independent. Now Asia and the Americas are strengthening their ties while the reigning superpower, the odd man out, consumes itself in misadventures in the Middle East.

Regional integration in Asia and Latin America is a crucial and increasingly important issue that, from Washington’s perspective, betokens a defiant world gone out of control. Energy, of course, remains a defining factor – the object of contention – everywhere.

China, unlike Europe, refuses to be intimidated by Washington, a primary reason for the fear of China by US planners, which presents a dilemma: steps toward confrontation are inhibited by US corporate reliance on China as an export platform and growing market, as well as by China’s financial reserves – reported to be approaching Japan’s in scale.

In January, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah visited Beijing, which is expected to lead to a Sino-Saudi memorandum of understanding calling for “increased cooperation and investment between the two countries in oil, natural gas and investment”, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Already much of Iran’s oil goes to China, and China is providing Iran with weapons that both states presumably regard as deterrent to US designs. India also has options. India may choose to be a US client, or it may prefer to join the more independent Asian bloc that is taking shape, with ever more ties to Middle East oil producers. Siddharth Varadarjan, the deputy editor of the Hindu, observes that “if the 21st century is to be an ‘Asian century,’ Asia’s passivity in the energy sector has to end”.

The key is India-China cooperation. In January, an agreement signed in Beijing “cleared the way for India and China to collaborate not only in technology but also in hydrocarbon exploration and production, a partnership that could eventually alter fundamental equations in the world’s oil and natural gas sector”, Varadarjan points out.

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Dutch Convert to Islam: Veiled and Viewef as a ‘Traitor’

Dutch Convert to Islam: Veiled and Viewed as a ‘Traitor’
A Woman’s Experience Illustrates Europe’s Struggle With Its Identity

By Molly Moore
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, March 19, 2006; A21

BREDA, Netherlands — Rabi’a Frank sees her Dutch home town through the narrow slit of the black veil that covers her face.

The looks she receives from the townspeople are seldom kindly.

On a recent winter afternoon, the wind tugged at her ankle-length taupe skirt, olive head scarf and black, rectangular face veil as she walked to her car from an Islamic prayer meeting in downtown Breda. Two blond teenagers on bicycles stared, their faces screwed into hostile snarls. Other passersby gawked. Some stepped off the sidewalk to avoid coming too near.

She tried to act like it didn’t offend her. But it did. She knows what they think of Muslim women like her.

“If you cover yourself, you are oppressed — that’s it,” said Frank, a lanky, 29-year-old Dutch woman who converted to Islam 11 years ago, about the time she married her Moroccan husband. “You are being brainwashed by your husband or your friends.”

Or, you’re a potential terrorist.

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21 “Best” Books in Middle East Studies, a survey

The survey was compiled at the MES Center at the American University in Cairo using selections sent in by fifty-two professors in the field of Middle East studies. Concerning background information, the goal of the survey was to find the Middle East studies books most highly recommended by professors in the field. All told, fifty-two professors sent their lists to us and from these recommendations the MES Center compiled the following list of the 21 “Best” Books in Middle East studies:

1. Orientalism
Edward Said, 1978

2. The Old Social Classes and the Revoltionary Movements of Iraq
Hanna Batatu, 1978

3. Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age
Albert Hourani, 1962

4. A History of the Arab Peoples
Albert Hourani, 1991

5. The Venture of Islam
Marshall Hodgson, 1975

6. Colonising Egypt
Timothy Mitchell, 1988

7. The Mantle of the Prophet
Roy Mottahedeh, 1986 

8. Contending Visions of the Middle East
Zachary Lockman, 2004

9. Women and Gender in Islam
Leila Ahmed, 1992

10. The Emergence of Modern Turkey
Bernard Lewis, 1961

11. Over-stating the Arab State: Politics and Society in the Middle East
Nazih Ayubi, 1995

12. A Political Economy of the Middle East
Alan Richards & John Waterbury, 1990

13. A History of Islamic Societies
Ira Lapidus, 1988

14. Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity
Timothy Mitchell, 2002

15. Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria
Lisa Wedeen, 1999 

16. The Muqaddimah
Ibn Khaldun, 1377 (Rosenthal transl.)

17. A Peace to End All Peace
David Fromkin, 1989

18. Armed Struggle & the Search for State
Yezid Sayigh, 1997

19. State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East
Roger Owen, 1992

20. Society of the Muslim Brothers
Richard Mitchell, 1969

21. Arab Politics: The Search for Legitimacy
Michael Hudson, 1977

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Cyber Jihad

LRB | Vol. 28 No. 5 dated 9 March 2006 | Charles Glass


Charles Glass

The Secret History of al-Qaida by Abdel Bari Atwan [ Buy from the London Review Bookshop ] · Saqi, 256 pp, £16.99

Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror by Michael Scheuer [ Buy from the London Review Bookshop ] · Potomac, 307 pp, £11.95

Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden ed. Bruce Lawrence trans. James Howarth [ Buy from the London Review Bookshop ] · Verso, 292 pp, £10.99

Osama: The Making of a Terrorist by Jonathan Randal [ Buy from the London Review Bookshop ] · Tauris, 346 pp, £9.99

When I was five years old, the first secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, Nikita Khrushchev, threatened to bury me. That was in 1956, when he buried the Hungarian Revolution. In California we welcomed Hungarian victims of Soviet brutality while finding no room for the Guatemalans whose democracy the CIA had crushed two years earlier. We were trained to ignore our victims and to fear our enemy. After all, Khrushchev could have buried us, even if he did not mean to do so literally, so much as to attend the funeral of capitalism. His formidable arsenal, we were told by Senator Kennedy, when he ran for president in 1960, contained more intercontinental ballistic missiles than ours. Soviet scientists propelled the first satellite and the first man into space. The Soviets had more manpower, more tanks and more dedication than we would ever have, somnolent as we were in our material comfort. ‘Monolithic Communism’ ruled most of the Eurasian landmass. J. Edgar Hoover, America’s chief law enforcer, warned us about ‘godless Communists’ and their designs on our liberties in his bestselling Masters of Deceit. Other titles in the red-baiting crusade – yes, they called it a crusade – were You Can Trust the Communists (to Be Communists) and None Dare Call It Treason. Under banners proclaiming that ‘The only ism for me is Americanism’, and ‘Better Dead than Red’, Dr Fred Schwarz’s Christian Anti-Communist Crusade held rallies that were guaranteed to fill the Hollywood Bowl.

Every morning at my parochial school, we pledged allegiance to the flag, sang the national anthem and prayed for the conversion of Russia. The otherwise thoughtful Sisters of the Immaculate Heart sometimes asked us – a kind of moral quiz – what we would do if the Communists burst into the classroom ‘right now’, levelled guns at our heads and demanded that we renounce Christ. When we got home from school, our flickering black and white televisions escalated the Communophobic barrage. The FBI Story, a weekly drama, competed in unmasking disloyalty with the real House Un-American Activities Committee and its Senate equivalent under Joe McCarthy. Commies, loners and eggheads were undermining the American way of life with foreign ideas like socialised medicine, racial mixing and unemployment insurance. The most compelling TV series was I Led Three Lives, based on the autobiography of Herbert Philbrick. Normal, God-fearing Americans shunned Communist cadre Philbrick; but we viewers knew he was secretly – and patriotically – working for good old J. Edgar at the FBI to send his comrades to the slammer. I understand now why Dalton Trumbo and Larry Adler hightailed it to England. Bad as those days were, brother, we never had it so good.

Now, the kids are terrified of some guy in a cave. The successors of McCarthy, Hoover and the 1950s television network bosses teach them that the madman Osama bin Laden can kill them at any minute, that he hates their freedom (perhaps not so much as their parents do) and is out to get them just because they are free. Unlike Khrushchev, Osama bin Laden has neither ICBMs nor nuclear warheads capable of destroying mankind ten times over. He does not even have a country. Yet he scares more than Khrushchev did. As every American schoolchild saw, bin Laden attacked the homeland on 11 September 2001 – burying a few thousand of us. He may yet bury more. We, of course, are sending his kind to their graves in Afghanistan, Iraq and other corners of the Islamic patrimony.

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