Dr Mohammad Nejatullah Siddiqi, 91 credited with founding the discipline of modern Islamic finance and banking and winner of the prestigious King Faisal Prize passed away on Friday 11 November 2022 in San Jose, California.

Professor of economics at Aligarh Muslim University, India, King Abdul Aziz University, Saudi Arabia and University of California, USA,  Dr Siddiqi left a legacy that will continue to help countless access interest-free loans to achieve their dreams in compliance with Islamic Sharia.

Dr Siddiqi was a prolific writer in Urdu and English and has 63 works in 177 publications in 5 languages and 1,301 library holdings where several of his works have been translated into Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai.

His most widely read book is Banking without interest which was published in 27 editions between 1973 and 2000 in 3 languages and is held by 220 libraries worldwide.

Nejat means salvation and Dr Siddiqi’s work proved salvation to people who could not advance their financial growth in the highly competitive world due to a lack of capital.

Who would have thought that born in a small town in UP, growing up in colonial India, Dr Siddiqi would surpass the peak of academic excellence with dedication, commitment, and desire to translate traditional Islamic concepts into concrete programs to benefit people in the modern world of finance.

Dr Siddiqi with Mrs Siddiqi.

His other works in English include”

  • Recent Theories of Profit: A Critical Examination (1971);
  • Economic Enterprise in Islam (1972);
  • Muslim Economic Thinking (1981);
  • Banking Without Interest (1983);
  • Issues in Islamic banking: selected papers (1983);
  • Partnership and profit-sharing in Islamic law (1985);
  • Insurance in an Islamic Economy (1985);
  • Teaching Economics in Islamic Perspective (1996); Role of State in Islamic Economy (1996);
  • Dialogue in Islamic Economics (2002) and Islam’s View on Property (1969).

He received two major awards for his work: King Faisal International Prize for service to Islamic Studies and Shah Waliullah Award for his contribution to Islamic Economics.

Describing the future of Islamic Economics, he wrote in 2013 that the changing world would call for five strategic changes in approach:

  1. Family rather than the market as the starting point in economic analysis;
  2. Cooperation playing a more significant role in the economy, complementing competition;
  3. Debts playing a subsidiary rather than the dominant role in financial markets;
  4. Interest and interest-bearing instruments playing no part in money creation and monetary management;
  5. Maqasid based thinking supplanting analogical reasoning in Islamic economic jurisprudence.

In what follows, I elaborate on these points to facilitate your engagement with these challenging propositions.

Elaborating on his life in Islamic Economics, he wrote the following:

I have been involved in Islamic economics most of my life. At school, however, I studied science subjects but switched to economics, Arabic, and English literature for my BA degree at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), which I joined in 1949.

My reading habit influenced my decision. I was devoted to al-Hilal and al-Balagh magazines, published under Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (1888–1958), poet, critic, thinker, and one of the great leaders of the Independence Movement.

I also read al-Tableegh and was influenced by the Deobandi scholar Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (1863–1943), the author of the famous book on belief and correct conduct (for women), Heavenly Ornaments.

And as most young people of my age and time, I studied the works of Maulana Abul Ala Maududi (1903–1979). Two of Maududi’s pieces deeply impacted me: lectures at Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow, and a scheme he proposed to Aligarh Muslim University, both in the mid-1940s, later published in a collection titled Taleemat.

Under the influence of these ulamas – religious scholars – I abandoned science and the engineering career I had planned. Instead, I wanted to learn Arabic, gain direct access to Islamic sources, and discover how modern life and Islamic teachings interacted.

I stuck to this mission, even though I had to take several detours stretching over six years – to Sanwi Darsgah of Jamaat-e-Islami, Rampur, and Madrasatul Islah in Saraimir before I arrived eventually at Aligarh to earn a PhD in economics.

The years spent in Rampur and Saraimir were full of lively interaction with Ulama. We spent most of our time discussing the Qur’an, the traditions of the Prophet, commentaries on the Qur’an, fiqh (jurisprudence), and usul-e-fiqh, or principles of jurisprudence.

That this happened in the company of young men of my age, fired by the same zeal, was an added advantage. We had each chosen a subject – political science, philosophy, economics – that we thought would enhance our understanding of modern life.

We combined modern secular and old-religious learning to produce something that would right what was wrong with the world.

We received a warm welcome from Zakir Hussain (1897–1969), the former President of India, then Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University; Mohammad Aaqil Saheb, Professor of Economics at Jamia Milliyah Islamia, Delhi; and by eminent teachers at Osmania University in Hyderabad.

Our mission was to introduce Islamic ideas to economics. These were at three levels:

  • A background provided by Islam’s worldview places economic matters in a holistic framework.
  • A set of goals for individual behavior and monetary policy,
  • Norms and values, resulting in appropriate institutions. 

Maududi argued that this exercise performed in key social sciences would pave the way for progress toward an ‘Islamic society. I was fully sold on the idea. We were also influenced by the extraordinary times through which Islam and Muslims were passing worldwide.

Islam was ‘re-emerging’ after three centuries of colonization which was preceded by another three centuries of stagnation and intellectual atrophy. The great depression had just exposed capitalism’s darker side, and Russian-sponsored socialism was enlisting sympathizers.

We thought Islam had a chance if only a convincing case could be made.

Dr Siddiqi devoted an entire book to the Objectives of Shariah (Maqasid Shariah). He did not agree with those writers who insisted on the five categories of objectives mentioned by al-Ghazali, claiming that many other purposes come under them in one way or another.

He suggested more goals to be added beside and beyond the five mentioned above, such as honor and dignity of humankind, basic freedom, justice and equity, poverty alleviation, sustenance for all, social equality, bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, peace and security, preservation of system, and cooperation at the world level.

He supported his stand by various verses of the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet, especially in dealing with the non-Muslims.”

Dr Siddiqi surveyed the history of the idea of Shariah objectives. To him, the concept of Shariah objectives has existed from the very beginning of Islamic history. But it was al-Juwayni (d. 478/1085) who first used the term, from whom his disciple al-Ghazali (d. 505/1111) took it and divided it into five categories: Protection of religion, life, reason, progeny, and property.

Ibn Taymiyah (d. 728H/1328) introduced the protection of dignity in place of progeny. He also argued that objectives should not be limited to the protection from haram (forbidden), but it should also include securing benefits. Thus, the number would be unrestricted to five objectives.

Ibn al-Qayyim followed the suit of his teacher, Ibn Taymiyah, and included justice among the objectives. He examined the opinions of al-Shatibi (d. 790/1389), Shah Wali Allah al- Dihlawi (d. 1172/1763), and a quick survey of the contemporary literature.

At 91, when he breathed his last in this mortal world surrounded by his three sons and two daughters, Dr Siddiqi had already achieved what only a few chosen ones achieved.

He ensured perpetual reward from his creator for his contributions to bringing millions into the fold of economic growth. As a result, marginalized people who lagged because of the lack of capital are in the process of building a stable financial life.

Dr Siddiqi turned concepts of divine justice and equity into practical reality.

When he started his work on Islamic banking, there was hardly an institution applying religious principles; now, there are over 500 Islamic banks and thousands of other non-interest-bearing financial institutions.

His legacy is there to stay and benefit people worldwide. His work has turned him into a legend, and the future generation would rightly call him the future of modern Islamic banking. 

ACADEMIC HONORS:

American Finance House Award, 1993

Awarded King Faisal International Prize for Islamic Studies, 1982.

PhD in Economics from Aligarh Muslim University, India, 1966.

Arabic and Islamic studies from Rampur, India, 1954.

WORK EXPERIENCE:

Professor of Economics, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia from October, 1978 to 2000.

Professor of Islamic Studies, Aligarh Muslim University, India from 1977 to 1978. (On leave from AMU from 1978 to 1983)

Reader (Associate Professor) in Economics, Aligarh Muslim University, India from 1975 to 1976.

Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Economics, Aligarh Muslim University, India from 1961 to 1974.

Supervised several PhD dissertations at Aligarh University, Ummul Qura University, Makkah, Imam Saud University, Riyadh and Sokoto University, Nigeria.

EDITORIAL AND ADVISORY POSITIONS:

Member, Editorial Board, Journal of King Abdulaziz University: Islamic Economics, Jeddah from 1983 to present.

Member International Board, Review of Islamic Economics, International Association of Islamic Economics, Leicester, UK from 1991 to present.

Member, Advisory Board, Islamic Economic Studies, Islamic Research and Training Institute, Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah.

Member, Board of Trusties, AAOIFI (Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions, Bahrain) 1999 to present.

Member, Editorial Board, IQTISAD Journal of Islamic Economics, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 1999 to present

Member, Advisory Editorial Board, The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, AMSS & IIIT, USA from 1985 to 1991.

Member, Advisory Board of the Journal, Humonomics, Toronto, Canada from 1985 to Present.

Member, Advisory Board, MASS, Journal of Islamic Sciences, Aligarh, India, from 1985 to 1997.

Editor, Islamic Thought, Aligarh, 1954-1959.

LIST OF PUBLISHED BOOKS

BOOKS IN ENGLISH:

1. Economics, an Islamic Approach, The Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK 1999.

2. Teaching Economics in Islamic Perspective, Centre for Research in Islamic Economics, KAAU, Jeddah, 1996.

3. Role of the State in the Economy, The Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK 1996.

4. Insurance in an Islamic Economy, The Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK 1985.

5. Partnership and Profit-Sharing in Islamic Law. The Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK 1985.

6. Banking Without Interest, The Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK. 1983.

7. Issues in Islamic Banking. The Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK. 1983.

8. Muslim Economic Thinking. The Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK 1981.

9. Contemporary Literature on Islamic Economics,The Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK 1978

10. Economic Enterprise in Islam, Markazi Maktaba Islami, Delhi, India. 1972.

11. Some Aspects of the Islamic Economy, Markazi Maktaba Islami, Delhi, India. 1972.

12. Muslim Personal Law (Edited), Markazi Maktaba Islami, Delhi, India. 1972.

13. Recent Theories of Profit: A Critical Examination. Asia Publishing House, Bombay, India. 1971.

N.B: Some of these books have also been published in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Indonesian, Malay, Hindi and Bengali languages.

BOOKS IN URDU:

1. Tahreek Islami Asr Hazir Men (Contemporary Islamic Movement). 1995 Markazi Maktaba Islami, Delhi, India.

2. Quran awr Science (Excerpts from Syed Qutb’s Tafsir with a detailed Introduction). 1978 Markazi Maktaba Islami, Delhi, India.

3. Nash’at Saniyah Ki Rah (Towards Islamic Renaisance) 1974 Markazi Maktaba Islami, Delhi, India.

4. Insurance Islami Ma’ishat Men (Insurance in Islamic Economy). 1974 Markazi Maktaba Islami, Delhi, India.

5. Ghair Sudi Bank Kari (Interest Free Banking) 1969 Markazi Maktaba Islami, Delhi, India.

6. Shirkat awr Mudarabat Ke Shar’i Usul (Sharia Principles of Partnership and Profit-Sharing). 1969 Markazi Maktaba Islami, Delhi, India.

7. Islam Ka Nazarriyah Milkiyat (2 Vols.) (Islam’s Theory of Property). 1969 Islamic Publications, Lahore, Pakistan.

8. Islam Ka Nizam-e-Mahasil (Translation of Abu Yusuf’s Kitab al Kharaj).1966 Islamic Publications, Lahore, Pakistan.

9. Islam Men `Adl-e-Ijtimat’i (Translation of Syed Qutb’s al `Adalah al Ijtimaiyah fi’l Islam). 1963 Islamic Publications, Lahore, Pakistan.

10. Islami Adab (edited) (Islami Literature) 1960 Markazi Maktaba Islami, Delhi, India.