Opinion building, not emotion, key for Islamic Banking in India: Dr Manzoor

New Delhi: Please do not present or campaign for Islamic Banking in India as an emotional or communal issue. This is a serious economic issue for which there is a need for opinion building among Muslim masses on one hand, and non-Muslim intellectuals on the other. In fact, non-Muslim intellectuals favoring interest-free banking system should be given leadership of such campaigns. This is the only wise way to make environment conducive for Islamic Banking in a communally polarized society like India. Dr Mohd Manzoor Alam, Chairman, Institute of Objective Studies, expressed these views at a lunch with Muslim journalists here today.

Addressing 20-odd journalists representing almost entire Muslim press in Delhi, Dr Alam who is also General Secretary of All India Milli Council, said that presenting the Islamic Banking issue emotionally will do more harm than benefit. He was just short of condemning Muslim groups and individuals, without naming them, for presenting it as a community issue and meeting person A or person B in power corridors without preparing ground within Muslim community and without involving non-Muslim intellectuals who are in support of interest-free system.

Dr Manzoor Alam (right, in foreground) interacting with Muslim journalists in Delhi
Asked about the role of Muslim press in this regard, Dr Alam who heads several think tanks on Muslim community issues, called on the Muslim media to build informed opinion among Muslim masses as well as intellectuals. “You should publish different aspects of Islamic economy and Islamic Banking. You should also publish opinions of non-Muslim intellectuals who are in favor of interest-free Islamic Banking, besides giving space to reviews of books dealing different aspects of Islamic economic system – this will help build consensus opinion among masses as well as intellectuals.”

Advising Muslim organizations, Dr Alam said they should not make it a religious or emotional issue. Rather they should push up non-Muslim intellectuals who are in favor of Islamic banking to come up for opinion building and advocacy.

“Rather than meeting person A or person B in government corridors and citing experience of Islamic Banking in other countries, what is more important is to convince the Muslim masses here for Islamic Banking, and build opinion at intellectual level among Muslim and non-Muslim communities.”

He also supported the view that rather than using the term Islamic Banking which may not sound ear candy for many in a communally polarized society like India, other terms denoting the actual nature of Islamic banking system can be used.

He cited an example. Some time back he led a delegation to P Chidambaram who was then Finance Minister. Dr Alam told him his team wanted to discuss “participatory banking” with him. Chidambaram readily agreed and said this term may help the government out of a sort of dilemma regarding Islamic Banking.

Expressing his happiness at Riyadh Declaration that called for large scale economic ties between India and Saudi Arabia, Dr. Manzoor Alam, who is also President, Indo-Arab Economic Co-operation Forum, said his forum had been striving for strong economic relations between India and Arab World and large scale investments in each.

In the first week of this past February, Institute of Objective Studies and Indo-Arab Economic Co-operation Forum organized a two-day international seminar calling for massive investments for Arab World into India particularly in the backdrop of global meltdown. “Beyond the Meltdown: Search for Options” was the theme of the seminar.


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