Trade Not Riba dot Com ( tradenotriba.com ) is a global educational and consultancy/training organization formed to educate the ummah (community) in regards to the seriousness in engaging in ribā(interest/usury) and provides an alternative form of funding in the form of waqf (endowment) and economic model call Islamic Social Entrepreneurship (ISE). It's headquarter is in Auckland, New Zealand. It is a registered under the New Zealand companies act.
The aim of Trade Not Riba dot Com ( tradenotriba.com ) is to provide alternative solutions to ribā(interest/usury) in order to safe guard the ummah (community) and the wider communities (including non-Muslims) from catastrophic effects of riba (interest/usury) which is causing unprecedented inequality gaps between the rich and the poor, globally. With another global crisis looming and the widening of the inequality gap in wealth between the rich and poor, it is now paramount that we see the big picture and take action accordingly. Performing an autopsy on the current global issues, it really is not rocket-science to comprehend that the underlying problem is actually the way trade and finance is carried out. How is it possible that the richest 1% of the global population own nearly half of global wealth? Is that fair? How and why did we let this happen?
Despite a plethora of theoretical concepts, round table discussions, research, media debates and practical initiatives on sustainable socio-economic issues, which are mostly based on the conventional point of view, policy makers and economists still remain in the dark and have not been able to unveil solutions to major social challenges to humanity concerning poverty, community empowerment, sustainability and social injustice, globally.
Past experiences have not lived up to promised expectations of solving socio-economic issues due to many reasons. Firstly, due to the unbalanced focus on economic advancement instead of community development and empowerment. Secondly, considerations are not given to factors affecting sustainability and moral integrity of economic systems and methods of including marginalized people in the economic pie. Thirdly, the economic systems have been modeled on individualistic rationale combined with private self-interest agendas whereby financial returns are given priority at the expense of other social goals. It has been widely accepted that over emphasis on financial returns undermines the integrity of activities as a whole as well as the financial sustainability of communities.
Focusing the lens back to the issue of wealth inequality, Islam indeed provides the inner resources from the spiritual and epistemological viewpoints required to cater for institutions which can provide justice for human beings. Islam has its own economic system which provides instruments and unconventional approaches which can lead to reduced poverty and wealth inequality. Islamic teachings provide tools and mechanisms for fair and just circulation of wealth. Looking back at Islamic history, we can learn that the era between 717 CE and 720 CE is known as the Golden Age under Caliph ‘Umar bin Abdul ‘Azīz. This was the period when the circulation of wealth was so efficient that one had to go to the sūk (market) looking for needy people to distribute the zakāh (mandatory) and would not find any poor people willing to accept zakāh (mandatory) money.
The fact is, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was a trader. He earned the title of al-Amin (most trust-worthy), even before his journey as a Prophet started. He built the building foundations of how trade should be carried out and his manners of trading is the adab (etiquette) of trade, full of akhlāq (morality and ethics). Islamic teachings based on the Qur’ān, ḥadīth (Prophetic traditions) and sunnah (the way of life prescribed as normative for Muslims on the basis of the teachings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)) laid the pathway and foundation for a fair and just economic infrastructure.
The financial problems can all be traced back to how we are engaging with our finances and the greater economy. One of the ways we can solve the ummah (community) issues and problems related to economy and finance, is to go back to basics and do our utmost best to refrain from engaging in ribā(interest/usury) and bring back the adab of mu’āmalah (responsibility and ethico-moral values in commercial and social transactions), which is part of the sunnah (the way of life prescribed as normative for Muslims on the basis of the teachings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)).
Turning the focus on waqf, it can be seen that awqāf (plural of waqf) institutions have played a pivotal socioeconomic role in the Islamic history and financed many of the welfare services for the betterment of communities. However, currently a vast majority of awqāf assets are hoarded in banks and unproductive land which is hampering the circulation wealth from the rich to the poor. This is in contrast to the role of waqf as a platform for the circulation of wealth.
As the inequality in the gap between the rich and poor has widened in the recent years, there has been a considerable increase in poverty, both in the developed and developing worlds. Therefore, there is a need to revive waqf in order to empower marginalized communities and narrow the gap in wealth inequality between the rich and poor.
The waqf-ISE (ISE is an abbreviation of Islamic Social Entrepreneurship) was developed though Dr. Thamina Anwar’s PhD research by going back to the drawing book in order to provide insights into the fundamentals of waqf and uncover solutions from Islamic perspectives on how trade was carried out during Prophet Muhammad (SAW)’ era and beyond. It provides a different dimension of investing waqf assets in social entrepreneurship practices which not only grows the waqf fund but also empowers marginalized people, without engaging in riba (interest/ usury). Instead, profit and loss frameworks are practiced as the model is primarily focused on communities and their well-being.
The ultimate goal of forming Trade Not Riba dot Com is to revive waqf (Islamic endowment), Islamic Social Entrepreneurship (ISE), Islamic economics and finance models as they were practiced for centuries, more than 1400 years ago from the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)'s era and beyond. The aim is to provide solutions, with the hope of narrowing the inequality gap between the rich and poor in terms of wealth distribution. It is anticipated that this model will formulate solutions pertaining to the societal challenges and socio-economic issues, particularly from the Islamic sources, for the benefit of both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
Finally, Trade Not Riba dot Com was established for the benefit of non-Muslims too. Contrary to common beliefs, Islam has been adapted extensively by the Western society and contributed extensively towards the non-Muslim civilization. Waqf law has been borrowed and adapted by the English Trust law as shown below:
An extract from Dr. Thamina Anwar’s book:
The origin of the English Trust can indeed be traced back to Islamic waqf as cited by Makdisi (1999, p.3) in his comments “in 1955, Henry Cattan noted that the English trust closely resembled and probably derived from the earlier Islamic institution of waqf”. Similarly, Verbit (2002) states that the “Islamic waqf is not only ‘quite like’ the trust but predated it by at least five hundred years”.
Another paragraph from Dr. Thamina Anwar’s book states the following:
There are several Western educational institutions considered as leading universities globally and were established based on the waqf model. Gaudiosi (1998, p.1231) claims that the “Oxford University would seem to represent the quintessential English academic institution. Yet, in its early phases of development, Oxford may have owed much to the Islamic legal institution of waqf”.
Additionally, Islamic scholar, Ibn Khaldūn’s concept of al-‘umrān (social organization) has a profound influence in creating social unity and was served as a tool for uniting people during the rise and development of civilizations. His notion of al-‘umrān (social organization) is widely practiced in the Western world, even by United States army.
Trade Not Riba dot Com is happy to work with both the Muslim and non-Muslims communities.
"With your food basket and my food basket The people will thrive"
― New Zealand Māori Proverb