The West, in a state of complete oblivion, has walked into the new global jihad: Islamic finance and the penetration of our banking and legal systems by Sharia law. If the political elites of our nations do not recognize this new Economic Jihad for what it is and put in place the correct defensive measures to protect our national economies and global markets, the deaths of September the 11th will represent a small event compared to the political defeat and subjugation that will be the fate of future generations.

Osama bin Laden created al Qaeda in the belief that the West must be defeated by force. It was only after he saw the trillion dollar-plus dollar damage the 9/11 attacks wrought that he apparently realized that America might best be defeated by economic means.  Many Salafi strategists and Wahhabi thinkers had come to this conclusion long before:  the father of the concept, Abul Ala Mawdudi, wrote about Economic Jihad decades earlier, during the Cold War. 

Today America has no competitor militarily; it spends more on defense than all the other nations of the world combined. But at the same time, thanks in part to globalization - which means nothing more than increased interdependence - America, ironically, is more vulnerable than ever, as indicated by the current global financial state-of-affairs. The US has become increasingly beholden to those nations and financial choke-points where the greatest concentration of American dollars and government bonds can be found. At the same time, imbalances in import-export ratios and declining domestic savings rates magnify the fact that the US economy is more and more dependent upon the behavior of political elites and institutions outside its borders. As a result, the health of the US economy and the Western economic system is more difficult to vouchsafe than ever. 

Even before the events of September 11th 2001, there existed a push across Western financial markets to create Sharia-compliant instruments and vehicles for Arab banks and Muslim consumers. Just open any issue of the Financial Times or the Economist for evidence of how successful this effort has been. Although not long established, Sharia Finance last year already totaled $1 trillion and has demonstrated on average a 12-15% annual growth rate. It is projected that by 2020, up to 60% of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims will not use the services of normal secular banks but be putting their money in Sharia-compliant institutions. As a result, the UK has already taken the strategic decision to make London the Sharia Finance capital of the world. 

Banks always need money, but especially now. The oil-rich nations and their sovereign wealth funds have money to invest, and to acquire Western financial entities. If these groups stipulate special terms for their interactions, all well and good, so long as the terms are business related and reasonable.  However, if the justification for specific financial restrictions and special behavior is not commercial, but religious, we would do well to be acquainted with the logic behind such stipulations as religion can be - and has been - effectively used to camouflage questionable intentions. Of course, religion, in and of itself, need not necessarily be seen in this context as a threat. Rather, the question is:  What are the ultimate motives of those who are using religion to shape Western financial structures from the inside? 

In the case of Sharia Finance, the religious justification was not religious, but born of ideology only a few decades ago since Mawdudi invented it.  Sharia Finance is not therefore intrinsic to historic Islam. At the moment our banks are more vulnerable than they have ever been. China has our dollars and Western banks need cash in-flows. Ironically, Economic Jihad is one of the most perfect weapons ever devised: as Western banks acquiesce to religious requests and the number of Sharia compliant institutions and instruments grows, Western political strength will be increasingly undermined, and established ways of doing business weakened. At the same time the fundamentalists who want to destroy our system will make more and more money. This is therefore the first war that costs nothing for the adversary but in fact turns a profit. 

The vast majority of bankers and financial analysts have no idea that this strategically designed movement is based upon a lie - that Islam forbids the charging of interest.1 In truth, as anyone versed in the Muslim faith is aware, Islam has something to say about riba, or usury (excessive interest) - just as Christianity does - but it does not outright ban interest.2 

The Bank of England and the British government decided, apparently without doing the requisite due diligence, that the UK should have a pivotal role in Sharia-compliant global finance. They did so without understanding what the consequences for Britain’s legal and financial system could be:  

Under Islam, the duty of jihad is linked to the duty to tithe (zakat), and tithing can only be done in approved ways - ways that are Sharia-compliant. Western-approved Sharia Finance is therefore a perfect channel to feed military and political Jihad. Moreover, as originally conceived by extremist ideologues and fundamentalists, Sharia Finance has as its goal the total replacement of the current secular economic system. 3

The inventor of Economic Jihad, Abul Ala Mawdudi wrote: “It is impossible for a Muslim to succeed in his aim of observing the Islamic pattern of life under the authority of a non-Islamic system of government.”4 Therefore economics, which are regulated by government, cannot be just partially compliant with Sharia, or that would mean the follower of Islam could be a true Muslim. To the Salafist, Sharia Economics are God-ordained. The kufir (infidel) system is impure, forbidden, and must be displaced. As Mawdudi, the founder of Jama’at-I Islami, said: “The objective of the Islamic Jihad is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system.” 5 Thus, Sharia Finance must be understood as a zero-sum game, as one more tool with which to establish the universal sovereignty of Islam.

Sharia Finance and Economic Jihad should be understood in the context of other Salafist thinkers such as Hassan al Banna and Sayyid Q’utb. Both concepts are part of a broader strategy based on the classic Marxist stages of conflict and progression. Phase one is classic violent jihad (9/11). This provokes phase two, a reaction by the enemy, meaning the West (i.e. America and its allies invade Afghanistan and Iraq). This reaction is responded to politically with lawfare, such as the push to have the United Nations criminalize statements defaming Islam, - and now economics - to penetrate fundamentalist values into the enemy’s heartland and the more powerful Western secular systems.  The logic is that eventually the non-violent political approach, which includes Sharia-compliant economics, will lead to dhimmitude, the term for when non-Muslims create the conditions within their own system that make them into second-class citizens6. Originally dhimmitude referred to the status of non-Muslims on Islamic territory. Now, within the West, it can be applied to acts borne of self-delusion whereby we disenfranchise ourselves voluntarily.

Incredibly, even President Obama has fallen into the trap of helping those who wish to undermine our Western system. In his Cairo speech, the President, said “I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat”, one of the five mandatory pillars of Islam.  He made no mention of helping Mormons fulfill their obligatory tithing obligations, or how believers in other faiths would be enabled to fulfill the strictures of their creeds. In making a statement favoring an obligation of the Muslim faith, the chief executive of the United States singlehandedly proposed the negation of the separation of church and state, but not in favor of Christians - as so many of his Democratic colleagues feared the Republicans would do - but in favor of Islam.

The president may be unaware that jihad and zakat are closely connected to one another as part of the obligation of Islamic tithing is to support those fighting to defend and spread Islam.7 by making this statement, the president inadvertently endorsed the funding of jihad.

One of the most important living figures in Jihadi thought today, Yousef al-Qaradawi, the religious adviser to the Muslim-Brotherhood as well as Al-Jazeera Television, has made clear that “[t]he most important form of jihad today is serious, purposefully organized work to rebuild the Islamic society and state and to implement the Islamic way of life in the political, cultural and economic domains. This is certainly most deserving of zakat.

A few years ago the Chairman of the Bank of England could have stopped the internal usurpation of the British financial system. Now it is too late. For America it is not. We can act to preserve our system and its values. Our power today is measured not in tanks or aircraft carriers but in our incredible economic might.  Our adversary well understands this and also that political warfare, in the form of Economic Jihad, is at least as important as Military Jihad. We will not de defeated by another 9/11, or even by a string of such attacks, unless our economic and legal systems can be critically weakened.

It is time that we arrived at the same conclusion as the foes we face and begin to battle the political, legal and economic subversion of our system.


1 I am indebted to Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo for his making this point clear to me and for otherwise illuminating the world of Economic Jihad.

2 Timur Kuran: Islam and Mammon: Economic Predicament of Islamism, pgs. 14-16, A. Yusuf Ali: The Holy Kur-an: Text, Translation and Commentary and Islamic Institute Blesses Interest, BBC News, 18 Nov. 2002.

3 Mohamed Ariff: Islamic Banking, Asian-Pacific Economic Literature, Vol.2, No.2, Sept. 1988

4 Jihad fi sabilillah, especially Chapter 2

5  Ibid, Chapter 3.

6 The Khoran: 9: 29: Fight against those from among the People of the Scripture who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day; who do not forbid what Allah and His messenger have forbidden, and who do not adopt the religion of truth until they pay tribute out of hand, utterly subdued.

 7 The Khoran: 9: 60 and the associated commentary by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri in The Reliance of the Traveler.

Sebastian L. v. Gorka PhD is founding director of the Institute for Democracy and International Security and associate fellow of the Joint Special Operations University. An internationally recognized expert on matters of national security and democratic transition he advises and briefs at the highest levels to US Special Operations Command, SOUTHCOM and NATO. His new column: On Defending Democracy, with the Hudson Institute New York, focuses on stories and issues that the mainstream media do not cover. The author welcomes comments at




© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Recent Articles by
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free gatestone institute mailing list.


Comment on this item

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Gatestone Institute greatly appreciates your comments. The editors reserve the right, however, not to publish comments containing: incitement to violence, profanity, or any broad-brush slurring of any race, ethnic group or religion. Gatestone also reserves the right to edit comments for length, clarity and grammar. All thoughtful suggestions and analyses will be gratefully considered. Commenters' email addresses will not be displayed publicly. Gatestone regrets that, because of the increasingly great volume of traffic, we are not able to publish them all.