Actual photo of shariah-compliant MasterCard -- complete with compass pointing to Mecca (source: NBC News)
The concept of shariah-finance is pretty simple. Muslims are forbidden to charge on interest -- the lifeblood of any credit card. So instead of interest, shariah-finance charges an upfront fee while simultaneously donating some of the proceeds to charity. Win-win-win for all involved.
This system of finance today holds about $1.5 trillion in assets, ultimately using a system that before 9/11 was difficult to track and bled into Islamist terror networks such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood -- all under the guise of charitable giving.
So with a bit of marketing magic (and you have to admit, the compass is a nice touch) and some kowtowing to the strictures of shariah finance, MasterCard has gone green.
A nice, bright, Islamic Jihad sort of green.
There's no question that shariah finance has some fairly direct problems when it comes to the inevitable connection to financing Islamist terrorism.
The Holy Land Foundation is a classic example of this dalliance with Islamist terror. In 2007, federal authorities brought charges against this organization as a major funding source for Islamic terrorism. In an 11-page document, 305 unindicted co-conspirators were identified as having funneled money to either Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood.
By 2008, the federal government landed convictions against five of these individuals, ultimately funneling over $12 million to Hamas since 1995. Among the groups that were complicit in this scheme were the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the North American Islamic Trust.
The method of financing Hamas? Through shariah finance, who funneled the money through zakat committees ostensibly designed to be charity front groups, but in reality were laundering the money to Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas terrorists in the Israeli West Bank and Gaza Strip.
...money that was used to kill Israelis and promote Islamic terrorism.
What's more interesting is that on the personal level in terrorist-sponsoring regimes such as Iran, the new MasterCards are a concerning new conduit for higher ups in the Iranian regime to skirt sanctions.
MasterCard clearly sees the dollars for their end of the "win-win" scenario, but utterly fails to see the moral dimension of participation in the system of shariah finance.
It is a simple equation of greed countermanding common sense.
This isn't to argue MasterCard should be charging interest rates to terrorists -- the means of MasterCard's dalliance with the conduits of Islamic terrorism is not what at are issue. What is at stake are the ends of shariah finance; results that are ultimately measured in Israeli or American lives.
Is that really worth an entry into the marketplace of shariah financing?