Financial Advisor by Day, Philanthropist by Night
By Aisha Salaam
Los Angeles, CA: "Hassan" doesn't just mean "beauty" in Arabic, but it means "beauty and goodness" and his natural charisma symbolizes just that. The US is home to several million middle-class Muslims, one of the largest markets in the West. Akmal says that certain early steps in providing Islamic alternatives to fixed income and bonds have exposed pent-up demand.
Akmal, a young man, has combined his global position as a athlete and his faith to create a not-for-profit organization that fosters peace and understanding. Akmal is now working in Islamic Sharia-compliant interest-free investments and socially conscious solutions, and using them to finance his heart's initiatives abroad.
Akmal aspires towards socially conscious solutions and encourages that if you "invest in them, their results will invest in you." He says: "Their business is your business - share in the profits, share in the losses. For example, sit down with key leaders in underserved communities across Third World countries and come up with business plans that are sustainable and profitable for both sides. For example, giving an underserved community resources to sustain and build themselves, then incorporate micro-macro enterprise. This is just one example of a socially conscious solution the Qur'an offers for an interest-free economy."
Akmal founded a non-profit organization in March 2006 and discusses the benefits of micro-macro enterprise regularly at conferences and fundraisers. While he was a student at Columbia University, he met Jeffry Sachs who governs the independent advisory body of the United Nations Millennium Project. Akmal says: "Poverty-stricken villages can transform themselves and meet new goals if they are empowered with proven, powerful, practical technologies. By investing in health, food production, education, access to clean water, and essential infrastructure, these community-led interventions will enable poverty-stricken villages to escape extreme poverty, something that currently confines over 1 billion people worldwide."
Earlier this year Akmal was hired as a financial advisor by one the largest and most internationally successful private financial institutions and banks. On joining, he created an Islamic Affinity Group with other employees nationwide to focus on what could be done in this particular niche. He relates this window of opportunity for new initiatives towards helping decrease the marginalization of the rich and poor worldwide. "Money is being used as power, and in order to really understand the strange economy, corruption, aggression, and oppression around us today, you don't need a PhD in economics, what you need is noor, light", Akmal says.
Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers, had similar thoughts. Jefferson said, "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
Akmal, a Muslim American, works hard with many different faiths to promote a message of peace and tolerance by attempting to omit misconceptions about different faiths. He also organizes charity events to raise funds for much needed health projects all over the world. "If people are going to be attracted to Islam, it will be because they are able to see its capacity to solve problems, and for social ills to become obsolete", Akmal says.
When asked about why "interest-free transactions" are forbidden in Islam, Akmal replied by first distinguishing between "business" and "usury" in the Qur'an. In short, business is permitted and usury is forbidden. He then referred to a well-known quote by Rep. Charles A. Lindberg in 1923: "The financial system has been turned over to the Federal Reserve Board. The board administers the finance system by authority of a purely profiteering group. The system is private, conducted for the sole purpose of obtaining the greatest possible profits from the use of other people's money."
Akmal, who claims he's not a scholar, but only "a student of a student of a student of a scholar", was well-versed in respect to the international monetary system, how money evolved in the 17th century with the Bank of England, and the system of paper money. He says, "The value of money is no longer in the money, but the value of paper money can be manipulated and this takes advantage of a person's hard work, sweat, and tears in earning that money", which is something all of us can appreciate. Akmal recommended I refer to the books "Religion and the Rise of Capitalism" by TH Tawny and "The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare. "These books and the brilliance of Shakespeare's work", he said, "will give you an idea of how it wasn't just Islam that opposed transactions of interest, but the historical fight of the Church and others to keep that door from opening."
The Federal Reserve Act was passed in 1913 and it is a private bank, run by private stockholders, and also is for-profit. Charles A Lindberg said, "This Act [Federal Reserve Act] establishes the most gigantic trust on earth. When the President signs this bill the invisible government by the Money Power, proven to exist by the Money Trust investigation, will be legalized…This is the Aldrich Bill in disguise…The people may not know it immediately, but the day of reckoning is only a few years removed."
The Federal Reserve can print money from nothing, increasing the national debt, and then lend the money on interest. Akmal mentions the significance of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and again refers to a quote by Charles A. Lindberg, "To cause high prices, all the Federal Reserve Board will do will be to lower the rediscount rate... producing an expansion of credit and a rising stock market; then when... business men are adjusted to these conditions, it can check... prosperity in mid-career by arbitrarily raising the rate of interest. It can cause the pendulum of a rising and falling market to swing gently back and forth by slight changes in the discount rate, or cause violent fluctuations by a greater rate variation, and in either case possess inside information as to financial conditions and advance knowledge of the coming change, either up or down. This is the strangest, most dangerous advantage ever placed in the hands of a special privilege class by any Government that ever existed."
"The problem with this is not merely that not enough people know this but that the money is no longer circulated evenly in society", Akmal says, adding "the rich get richer and the poor are permanently poor. This is financial slavery and forbidden in the Qur'an". "I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution - taking from the Federal Government their power of borrowing." These are the words of Thomas Jefferson.
What about possible solutions to the current system of money? Akmal specifies that you cannot pay off the national debt without reforming the money supply. Many speculate about a collapse of the international monetary system and the total control of the international banking over government. "It's not about who owns the international banks, it's about who controls those banks", Akmal says, "those that control money, control the world". "The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the Bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe…corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money powers of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed." -Abraham Lincoln
Akmal's position is unique, respectable, fascinating, and interesting, his knowledge reflecting that he was a double major at UCLA in history and biochemistry, with a minor in Islamic studies. However, his viewpoint is not unprecedented by no means. Here are the words spoken by Abraham Lincoln in 1965: "The government should create, issue and circulate all the currency and credit needed to satisfy the spending power of the government and the buying power of consumers. The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of a government, but it is the government's greatest creative opportunity. By the adoption of these principles, the long-felt want for a uniform medium will be satisfied. The taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest, discounts and exchanges. The financing of all public enterprises, the maintenance of stable government and ordered progress, and the conduct of the treasury will become matters of practical administration. The people can and will be furnished with a currency as safe as their own government. Money will cease to be the master and become the servant of humanity."
"Sunnah money", in the Qur'an is essentially when the value of the money is in the money, such as commodities and precious metals (gold, silver, etc). "Many people don't understand the US dollar's relation to gold and the history of how it has was permitted to be redeemed. The first paper money was a gold receipt and then came the birth of fractional reserve lending, in other words, giving out more receipts than they had of gold. It's important to understand how those in control are able to keep the international monetary system from collapsing, control the value of gold with monopolies, and how it can collapse at any point when it is in their interest. Most Americans don't understand the international money lender operations, money changers, and the manipulation of the credit of the United States", Akmal comments.
"I am trying to protect myself and others within an international monetary system that is fraudulent. It's simple, you have to examine who controls the purchasing power and who pays with inflation." Thomas Jefferson summarizes in these words: "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a monied aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."
Akmal clarifies that "the question is not if the system will eventually collapse, the question is when. And the solution for when this occurs. My money will be in gold,” he concludes."