May 26, 2007

Islamic Finance - the science of fraud

The state of most "islamic financial solutions" offered today by many "islamic" banks are almost joke-like. Many of those are exact replicas of regular interest-based solution but with "fancier" names. Instead of interest, they change "rent", and instead of calling them "bonds", they call them "sukuk"... is this really the spirit of islamic finance? Why would islam give us a different system... if it is actually the same underneath!?

One of the bravest and most articulate defenders of true islamic finance is professor Mahmoud El-Gamal or Rice university. He published the following article in Financial Times. I think it says much. Read the whole article at

One of the most popular [phony islamic finance] models is the sale/lease-back bond structure, known by the exotic name sukuk al-ijara. A bond issuer sells some real estate or other assets to a special purpose vehicle, which raises the funds by selling share certificates. The SPV leases the assets back to the issuer, thus collecting principal plus interest and passing them along to sukuk holders in the form of rent. At the end of the lease, the SPV sells or gives the property back to the issuer.

May 15, 2007

A nice read "Inside the Madrasa"

A very nice piece by an intriguing Islamic intellectual:
Inside the Madrasa by Ebrahim Moosa. I met Dr. Moosa at Stanford in 2000. He was a visiting professor and I was a visitor to the Ramadan daily Iftars.

The article talks about Dr. Moosa's years studying at Indian Madrasas. I've heard about the Madrasa system from different people, and about the rivalry between the Deobandi schools vs others. This article brings to light many of these schools and their interesting development - information one wouldn't get but from an insider.

This is the first article I read by Dr. Moosa, and I have to say that I'm impressed. I'm interested in reading his Ghazali book now.

May 9, 2007

My type of exercise

Check this article

'Exercise pill' switches on gene that tells cells to burn fat

Makes normal mice resistant to weight gain on high-fat diet

By giving ordinary adult mice a drug - a synthetic designed to mimic fat - Salk Institute scientist Dr. Ronald M. Evans is now able to chemically switch on PPAR-d, the master regulator that controls the ability of cells to burn fat. Even when the mice are not active, turning on the chemical switch activates the same fat-burning process that occurs during exercise. The resulting shift in energy balance (calories in, calories burned) makes the mice resistant to weight gain on a high fat diet.