Monday, 24 November 2008


The Implications of The Global Recession for The Gambia bY SUNTOU TOURAY
Whether our government acknowledge it or not, the remittances to the Gambia help sustain countless of families. The fact is that, our economy as machinery is not mature enough to be affected by the global financial down turns destabilising developed nations at present. This is so because the tools employed by multinationals banks and financial intermediaries have no place in our economy. Financial products like Hedging, Swaps, Derivatives, Securitisation of bonds etc, cannot be practice at large scale in the Gambia. We lack the capital market facilities to intermediate between fund providers and borrowers. These inabilities make us immune from facing the full brunt of the recession affecting all developed nations.
The Domino Effect of the Financial Crisis:
Even though The Gambian economy from the government perspective will not be affected by the financial crisis, what we cannot avoid though are the indirect effects of global recession. The prices of imported goods will rise and this will directly affected all consumers.
The most vulnerable area of the global financial crisis for the Gambia and Gambians will be the reductions of aggregate remittances to the country. Gambians like other third world countries rely heavily on remittances from the developed countries. The remittances help families cater for their daily bread and other expenditures and leisure.
Citizens and residence in the developed nations are cutting spending and trying hard to save. The daily unprepared job loses affecting every sector of the developed economies will also include Gambians in the unfortunate debacles. The fear of job lose and the actual job lose makes people unable to undertake the extra responsibilities once carried out with ease. The reduction in remittances will translate into; families back home unable to afford basic necessities such as food, electricity, medicine, school fees, petrol and many other items.
For now, many will carry on doing what they do best, that is look after their kit and kin. The slowing of remittances also will impact on the overall spending in our economy. Credible sources had it that the bulk of Gambias civil servants who are the backbone of our country are heavily indebted through loans and overdraft mainly.
The Plight of Gambian Civil Servants:
Many Gambians aspire to work in the civil service as a show of patriotism and decent way to earn a livelihood. But in reality, the civil service was always a place to make ends meet in a very difficult way. The majority of civil servants fall within the grade 7 plus salary bracket. This translate in real terms to mean, they earn just over D2500 to D3000 (dalasis). This men and women have huge ratio of dependency and other commitments. The average house rent for a man and family will be D700 per month, excluding bills. A bag of rice now cost D800 plus. The basic ingredients for a house for a month can reach up to D1000. The amounts stated above exclude transport fares, school fees for kids, medical bill, electricity and water etc.
The salary is so low; civil servants have device new ways to make their life bearable. They open an account with local shop keepers, the shop keeper give them items required on daily basis and records the amounts. At the end of the month, nearly half of the salaries go to the shop keepers. Before the middle of the month, the civil servants will come back to the shops to buy on credit. This cycle continuous unending.
Those are the lucky civil servants because they at least expect something decent at the end of the month. What about the ones below the D2000 bracket? How do they go about taking care of their obligations? Yet we talk about eradicating corruptions! The root cause is poor pay levels and dis-incentives.
The top level civil servants are those in grade 11 salary bracket. These include directors, permanent secretaries, and other high level government employees. They earn over D7000 per month. Yet even this people needs the extra cash to make their position match their spending power.
The biggest income agent in the Gambia is evidently agriculture. It is the industry that majority of citizens are engaged in. This year’s forecast for groundnuts is not good, the prices are said to be low.
The next biggest economic agent is our ports authority. The strategic location of the Gambia makes the ports a major transit point for many goods across the globe. The third economic agent is none other than remittances. The commitment that Gambians abroad show to their country is immense. If that is not patriotism I don’t know what? The magnificent houses, the many Hajj trips, the helping of relatives, the donations to hospitals and schools, the funding of political parties etc. This is the legacy of Gambians abroad to their people back home.
The threat to jobs in the developed world will impact negative on the people back home. The availability of foreign currency in Gambians banks will be affected. Less people will be travelling on holiday from among Gambians and even among the regular tourist sector.
In these hard times, what is it that Gambians back home demands? From an observer’s point of view, it is paramount that the government take politics out of the civil service. Civil servants should feel secure in their jobs without fear of political victimisation. The salary is too low for the hassling and haranguing by APRC stalwarts.
Gambians abroad also demand the government respect their efforts and love for the Gambia. Political differences shouldn’t translate into branding us enemies of the state and label unpatriotic. We all help in building that country, if nothing; the government should stop harassing decent innocent citizens who express alternative views about the conducts of the government. What is democracy without the forum to express divergent views? No wonder Kaddafi call some democratic countries, “disguised dictatorships”.
Let unity, prosperity and faith in one God guide our actions. The Gambia where we all have in common. Fear rule should be a thing of the past. I pray that the global down turn leave us unscathed and that we come out it strong and vibrant.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


positive economics with an Islamic dimension and conventional explanation: special emphasis to J.N.Keynes
When Keynes made the following famous statements, “while the ultimate goal may be to guide human conduct, the immediate object to be kept in view is knowledge of positive facts”.
The key terms in the above statements are ultimate goal, human conduct and positive facts. Since the question is ask from an Islamic economics point of view, a contrast have to be made in understanding the intentions of conventional great economist like Keynes, Schumpeter, Ricardo, smith etc. What was their key ideology and motivation about their understanding of positive and normative economics?
Keynes made it clear that economist are not moral jurist and cannot prescribe what people should do or abstain from. His words “economics as positive, abstract and deductive, while the other describes it as ethical, realistic and inductive”. The statement is incomplete but in essence what Keynes was making clear is that, no economist of the past divides economics as positive or normative. The rise of positive and normative is recent. That is why he stated above that the “ultimate goal is guide human conduct...” which means economics is not to be use as tools to preach moralistic dogmas but explain to consumers the choices available to them and how they can make best use of scarce resources.
Islamic economics on the other hand is base on the fundamental principles of the Qu-ranic teachings and the prophetic traditions. This implies that the well-being of man is safe-guarded from both materialistic and spiritual dimension.
Positive Economics with an Islamic economics aspects.
Islamic economics is geared towards the restoration of moral values to economics which will operate on clear shariah based principles. Economics justice is another hallmark of Islamic economics. Conventional economist don’t bother themselves with justice since the principles that guide moral conduct are religious and they the conventional economist try to distance from religious ethics, they cannot explicitly promote economic justice.
Keynes went further to state that, the function of economics is to investigate facts and discover truths about them, not to prescribe rules of life. Economics law are theorems of facts, not practical precept. Economics in another word is a science, not an art or a department of ethical enquiry. It is describe as standing neutral between competing social schemes. It furnishes information as to the probable consequences of given lines of action, but does not itself pass moral judgement or pronounce what ought or what ought not to. (Keynes,J,N 1896)
The line of demarcations is made very clear by Keynes from his above key note statements. Keynes postulated that economics is not to prescribe to people “what ought or what not to”. In short economics as a science shouldn’t interfere with people choices in life. Whatever is available in the free market is open to people’s private economic decisions. The moral dimension is not an issue for economist and economics as a subject matter. Islamic economics encompasses both as guide to mankind in his mundane materialistic choices and also by making available clear scriptural text of the Quran on what ought to be consume and ought not to be consume. “The what ought to be” are command to engage into an activity and the what ought not to is also a command not to take part in certain activities.
Islamic economics mix both positive and normative economics. The two has no distinction as such. Critics of Islamic economics may say, modern people are not interested in ancient scriptures dictating their role in economic activity, but the simple answer to that query is that, every sincere Muslim wish to live his life according to the laws of God.
Dr Umer Chapra cited Mark Blaugh with the quote that “there are growing numbers who suspect that all is not well in the house economics has built” and also he cited Nigel Lawson with the following quote “man is a moral animal and no political or economic order can long survive except on moral base”. (Chapra, U. 2000)
The two quotes highlighted the problems with conventional economics that is causing clear drawbacks in the world global economic environment. The absence of moral principles in conventional economics results in unethical practices which causes long term problems. Islamic economic offered a different solution to the problems of conventional economics.
According to Chapra positive economics means “efficiency and equity can be determine without value judgement, whilst normative reflect to a great extent, society’s vision of ‘what ought to be’”. The economics goals cannot be achieve without both positive and normative sets of principles. The discussions as to whether a society can be deem value free will continue for the foreseeable future. ( Chapra, U. 2000)
Zubair Hasan defined economics as a science, for it is a body of knowledge that systematically deals with causes and effect relationships in the ordinary business of life and searches for uniformities in human behaviour for establishing hypotheses, theories, and laws wherever scarcity of resources makes choice making the basis for action. (Hasan,Z. 2006)
That definition is very comprehensive. It encompasses all that individuals, businesses and society at large requires for their every day functioning. The aspect on uniform choices entails the concept of economies of scale, when many people want similar things, it production is economise through standardisation. Zubair went further to introduce the two key concepts that Keynes talked about earlier. The positive and normative aspects of economics. Zubair moreover added that “positive science deals with ‘what is’ of the economy and with the forces that govern factual situations”. Positivism in short deals also with evident matters in economics enquiry not ethical or moralistic questions. That is the significant failing of positivist since, as stated earlier no economy can operate effective on only value free basis. “Positive economics observes and state but does not suggest”. What is testable and apparent is what concern is with, not what ought to be. (Hasan, Z. 2006)
On the subject of normative economics, Zubair stated that it means, “economics discusses questions like ‘what should be’ produced, and how should it be distributed”. These complete the missing link in economic dogmas. Positive economics on its own will proof unproductive in a modern society. The observation of zubiar is significant in that, the current trend in environmental matters, global warming worries and concern for the general level of pollution by multinational makes normative economics necessary and unavoidable.
“if ‘what is’ is not what should be, the normative aspect of economics instantly raises the question of policy: what policy should correct the situation?”. (Hasna, Z. 2006). That questioning part of normative economics makes it similar in principle with Islamic economics. Islamic economics put forward arguments that are beneficial to human beings even if the cost is high but the social benefits are of significance. Conventional economics also adopts research and technology, and what is of acceptable methods in research are also of key interest to government and other organisations.
In conclusion:
What John Neville Keynes advocates as the central importance of economics goals in misplaced. Even though common people may not be interested with asking ‘the what ought to be’, the overall progress of economics as a science will be hindered if only positivism is promoted.
Both Chapra and Zubair postulated the connectivity between positive and normative economics. Moral guidance is required in all aspect of human endeavours. The concept of value free is losing momentum, as men as by nature are concerned mainly with self-interest. Moral and ethical guidance is much needed as well as scientific enquiry. A clear balance is necessary to make the world a better place and economics a subject whose interest will continue to fascinate people across every age.
Even Adam smith call for some form of moral principles in pursuing self-interest. Zubair cited Smith in the following words “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our necessities but of their advantage”. (Hasan, Z.2006) This statement enforces the believe that self-interest alone cannot regularise human well-being. It must be guided by moral ethics; this is why we have all kinds of professional ethical bodies. The global financial crisis is a testament to that. The loosening of the control mechanism causes bankers and financial intermediaries to take part in malpractices and fraudulent conducts.
Islamic economics is guided by both religious and mechanical principles. The problem of positive versus normative economics will have no place in it, the moral, ethical, financial and social are all equally implemented in economic activities.
Chapra, U (2000). The future of economics: conventional economics. Leicester U.K, Islamic foundation. Pp 17-29
Hasan, Z (2006). Introduction to microeconomics: An Islamic perspective. Selangor, Malaysia: Prentice Hall, PP 3-9
Keynes, J,N (1890). Scope and method of political economy. Cambridge U.K, Botoche Books 1999. Available online at: accessed on the 3rd of November 2008.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The Narrow Road

The narrow road, the narrow road
Walk it with consent
Walk it with love and joy
Walk it with permission
Walk it in Godly sanctioning
The narrow road
A blessed road
A simple road
Manifested from the beginning of man
Respect it
Violate it not, don’t criminalise it either
The narrow road
Sweetness prevails
The after taste a rubber stamp
Affirmative memory din don don
Dalandin punsandima (sweet diving pond)
Swim, swim
In the manners recommended by the lord most high
Salam it is part of
The narrow road, the narrow road
The elderly noddings
Sinma kudey, not Nghaba kudeh
Rules of engagement a matter of most


Silent caring lot
Oousing and goousing
Heavy breathing and muttering fits
Sometimes pap pap
Facing by without a flicker
Stillness, calmness and painful-patient
Not because that is what was desired
The command became top down
The downers get all the slacking
The uppers continue the silent destruction
Few crumbs scattered here and there
Brains searching for solitude and freedom
Tranquillity disturbs the space! No credible speaker speaks of the harms
Noise is noise they say
Slowly all is socked in
Shocking unannounced deeds
Yes, when it touches you, the uncalled-for deeds
That time you speak and stand
So long, so long
We are all impotent witnesses
Battling the forceful news
Aah news of things we can’t believe
Yet, the news is partly true
Where is the comradeship and nationhood?
The blood of all is at stake
Witnesses! Comfortable are you?

Monday, 3 November 2008

Some excepts from Ibn Khaldun's book Muqadima

Courage is a cardinal virtue among country people, he observes. They have neither militia nor walls nor gates. They see to their own defence, bearing arms and keeping themselves on the alert at all times. In them, therefore, ‘daring has become a character trait, and courage second nature’. Among townsmen, however, this virtue is nearly absent since they are brought up in a state of dependence, sheltered behind their walls and protected by their militia and their governors; they are used to peace and comfort. In addition, their spirits are weakened and their courage annihilated by the weight of the constraints imposed on them by ‘governmental and educational laws’.15
Corrupt morals are virtually inescapable for urban dwellers. An affluent life leads to the search for pleasure, the appearance of new habits and of new needs. These become increasingly difficult to satisfy, particularly when dynasties decline and taxes become heavier. Townspeople use any means, good or bad, to cope, ineluctably entering ‘the ways of immorality’.16 In rural areas, on the other hand, a life of making do with necessities constantly calls for control over appetites. The vices and defects that can be acquired are few compared to those of townspeople, and country people remain close to their original natural state and are more inclined to good.17
Imitation is held by Ibn Khaldun to be a general phenomenon: the dominated always imitate those who dominate them. This is true of children vis-à-vis their parents, pupils vis-à-vis their Teachers, subjects vis-à-vis their princes and dominated nations vis-à-vis dominant nations; it holds true as much for custom and behaviour as for all aspects of civilization. Ibn Khaldun finds the 4 explanation for this phenomenon in the fact that the dominated believe in the perfection of those who dominate them.18
In all three examples the question of values and their transmission is no longer presented as an exclusively individual matter. The courage of rural folk, like the corrupted morals of Towns people and the phenomenon of imitation, do not depend only on subjective will, nor are they the result of incitement: they are the outcome of actual conditions.
As can be seen, without stating the matter explicitly or systematically, Ibn Khaldun deals with all aspects of the reproduction of values in Muslim society. He begins by assuming, in a sort of philosophical anthropological postulate, that human beings, who are endowed with the faculty of thought, organize their relations with the world and each other according to laws and rules that each individual learns through his or her own personal experience, and especially by impregnation from the family and cultural milieu. At the same time, he reveals deeper values, connected with the very functioning of society, whose reproduction occurs independently of individual wills.

Aspects of Islamic Economics

Suntou Touray, October 2008.
What is Islamic Economics?
The question on a face value seems very easy to understand but on close scrutiny, the question is very unusual. This is so because economics as a field or discipline is well defined and tones of text and resources are available on the wider subject.
The purpose of the question is to trigger a thought provoking analogy of comparative economics. When one asks what is Islamic this or that, the questions straight away implies faith-base concepts and key elements. To understand anything Islamic, one requires a certain amount of religious understanding of the Muslim world view and perspective.
To clearly demonstrate an understanding of the question, the term or definition of economics in general must be stated and then a specific explanation of the Muslim or Islamic understanding on economics.
Economics as a social science is define in many different ways. One such is the Penguin dictionary of economics. “The study of the production, distribution and consumptions of wealth in human society”. (Bannock, G; baxter, R,E and Davis, E; 2003, pp 114-115)
This simple definition is what economics is commonly defined with but other writers has their own explanation of what economics is. For this short topical essay, time and other limitations will not allow me to divulge further into the disagreements about the different definitions and explanations of economics. Conventional economists understand it in the secular concepts. This means the production, distribution and eventual consumption of goods and services are perform without any spiritual attachments or conditions. The means to produce say a bag of flower does not have to take account of how the original capital is secured to start the production facilities. Whether this is by bank loan at an interest or otherwise is of little or no importance.
There are two key economic concepts according to ken Ferguson, command economy, the market economy or a mixture of both. Islamic economic system can also be a mixture of both but not purely command. Command economy is where “resources is decided by a central administrative process” the central government allocate resources to sectors of the economy. Whilst the market economy is where the “the allocation of resources is accomplished by the forces of demand and supply”. The free market doctrines, no central government interference, the market regulate itself. (Kerguson, K; 2002, pp 2-5)
In all this brief explanations of economics, there is no religious or spiritual dimension postulated by the writers. This is because that has no bearing on the forces of economic functions.
Now then what is Islamic economics?
Islam is a faith based religion that teaches the belief in One God and that God through is prophets teaches man how to live a social responsible life with a spiritual and ethical dimension. The quran states that “everything on earth is created for man utilisation” (Al-quran 2:29). This declaration comes with a conditions of values, “righteous living” by which the wellbeing of man is safeguarded.
Men are advice to work and make a honest and ethical living, the quran states that “and the monasticism which they have innovated, we did not prescribe it for them”.(Al-quran 57:27)
Umer chapra further elucidated that every sector of the human society is regulated by spiritual means. He went further to state that
Actions in every field of human activity, including the economy, is spiritually provided, it is harmony with goals and values of islam. It is really these goals and values that determine the nature of the economic system of Islam. (Capra, Umer; 1996, pp 5-7).
What Dr Capra in the above commentary did is to make a clear distinction between the muslim world view and the western conventional economic world view. The Islamic economics in short takes its guidelines from the scriptures as explained by scholars and muslims economist.
These are the economic goal that Umer Chapra is referring to:
A. an economic well-being within the framework of moral norms of islam.
B. Universal brotherhood and justice
C. Equitable distribution of income
D. Freedom of the individual within the context of social welfare.
The above goal are a starting point according to Chapra, but they are a basis by which muslim economist can advance the course of the debate.
Dr Khushid Ahmad has sum-up the need for Islamic economics so accurately, it needs stating here. All other economic concepts adopted by muslim countries fail to yield any economic development. The package western economic policies also fail to have any impact in directing economic growth.
He went on to state the pattern by which Islamic economics can be adopted.
The first premise which muslims want to establish is that economic development in an Islamic framework and Islamic development economics are rooted in the value-pattern embodied in the quran and sunnah. And the second premise is that the approach clearly rules out imitativeness. (Ahmad, K; 1994, pp 6-10)
This above statement indicates the wiliness and attitude some Muslim scholars has towards directing the affairs of the muslim economic debate. Imitation has been a destructive element in the affairs of Islamic states, the government apparent inferiority concepts in their own potentials and ideals drove them to copy everything western whether good or bad for their value systems.
The capitalist and socialist economic orders fail the muslim world.
Tagi usmani have this to say on why muslims needs an alternative economic order free from the greed of capitalism and the lack of direction of communism.
The economic principles taught by the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam) are quite capable of solving the major economic problems faced by the world today. While they allow private ownership and market economy, they also provide a well considered system of distributive justice, which may eliminate the inequities and bring about a system in which profit motive works with the collective interest of the society. (Usmani, Tagi; 2008)
The main reasons of muslims wanting Islamic economy as their way of dealings is rooted in what Taqi Usmani referred to has, “the economic principles taught by the quran and sunnah”. Muslims are not satisfied with any economic principles just to get on with their every day transactions; they need an order than conforms with their faith.
Nejatullah Siddiqi on his part in the Islamic economic debate, highlighted the concept of Tawheed. He defines Tawheed as “ a coin with two faces: one implies that Allah is the creator and the other that men are equal partners or that each man is brother to another man”. (Siddigi, Najatullah; 1988,pp 4-8)
The above concept is talking about the relationship between man and God and man and man. This relationship should be based on honesty and ethical values. Man shouldn’t oppress another man. The overall over-seer is God the most high. Muslims with inbuilt God-consciousness will avoid deception, injustice and corruption in their everyday dealings. Whilst some aspect of capitalist ideals may look fair, but in reality they are tools for the powerful to oppress the weak. This is what the whole Riba system is about.
The Quran clearly teaches Muslims of certain economic behaviours.
Eat and drink of that which God has provided and act not corruptly, making mischief in the world (Al-Quran 2:60)
Another verse states the following: O mankind! Eat of what is lawful and good on earth and follow not the footsteps of the devil (Al-Quran 2:168). The Quran as the supreme source of information for Muslims further commanded: O you who believe! Forbid not the good things which God has made lawful and exceed not the limits. Surely, God loves not those who exceed the limits. And eat of the lawful and good that God has given you, and keep your duty to God in whom you believe. (Al-Quran 5: 87-88) cited by Chapra (Chapra,U; 1996, 6-7)
This above verses are just a few among the many Quranic injuction on believers every day dealings.
The prohibition of interest is key to muslims determine to find an alternative economics system. Interest according to Siddiqi is the root cause of instability, the key concept of “liquidity preference” is sternly criticised. Siddiqi further cited many renown muslim scholars who hold similar views among them, is Uziar, Mawdudi, Mannan. All those scholars linked the “the institution of interest occurrence to crises in the economic system”. (Siddiqi, N. 1988, 62-63)
Interest most be avoided by muslim at all cost, this ruling makes Islamic economic a necessity and a system that muslims must institute.
Islamic economic from the above facts can be define as a system of everyday dealings that conforms with the Quranic teaching and the ways of the prophet of Islam. The economic mechanism that tries to avoid Riba, exploitations and unjust taxations. A system that don’t only allow the rich and powerful to dictate economic policies can be considered an Islamic economics.
All the writers cited above linked the Islamic economic principles with Quran and Sunnah whilst the conventional system doesn’t link the economic order with any faith or religion. Where has it may comment about moral values, this is not in the religious sense. Islamic economics links mans’ actions with his hereafter. The responsibility of catering for the needs of this life whilst bearing in mind the condition of meeting God. This makes clear distinctions between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Our actions are not just judge here, also in the afterlife. The Islamic economics thoughts gave rise to the Islamic financial industry which is now worth more than 1 trillion dollars in Assets and product value. The industry is growing at a rapid paste and the future is looking good. The global financial crisis has had little impact on the islamic financial sector, beacuse that industry forbid dealing in bonds and colaterised securities.

Ahmad, K. (1994) Economic development in an Islamic framework. Leicester U.K, Islamic foundation. PP 5-16
Bannocks, G (2003), The penguin dictionary of Economics. Suffock, U.K: penguin books, pp 114-115.
Ferguson, K (2002), essential economics: a guide for business students. Hampshire, U.K: Palgrave macmillan, pp 2-5
Chapra, Umer. (1996), Objectives of Islamic economic order, Leicester U.K: Islamic foundation, pp 5-8
Siddiqi, M, N (1988). Muslim economic thinking: A survey of contemporary literature, Leicester, U.K. The Islamic foundation, pp 4-25
Usmani, Tagi (2008). The Economic Challenge for the Ummah: Restructing our Economic Systems, available at: <> accessed on the 28 october, 2008.