Deceit of modern banking system as a manifestation of Dajjal

Ahmed Danyal Arif, London
Etienne Martin. Unsplash
Etienne Martin | Unsplash

Amongst the majority of Muslims, the concept of Dajjal (the Antichrist) remains an obscure phenomenon – one of mythical proportions, if the interpretations of the prophecy relating to it are deemed to be literal. Indeed, in some prophecies, it is described as a huge man, blind in the right eye with a deeply penetrating left eye, who would ride on a donkey.

However, like all prophecies, the one on Dajjal is subject to interpretation, and Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, has beautifully elucidated on the concept in light of the Holy Qur’an and the tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. He explained that the word ‘Dajjal’ is derived from the Arabic root word ‘dajl’ which means ‘deceit’ and clarified that the concept of Dajjal is intangible and depicts “a group which supports falsehood and works with cunning and deceit.” (Haqiqatul-Wahi [The Philosophy of Divine Revelation], p. 393)

If we dig a bit deeper, another interesting root of the concept of Dajjal comes from ‘dajlun’ which refers to “gold” and more specifically “gold-wash for gilding.” (Edward William Lane, An Arabic-English Lexicon – دجل). Simply put, ‘to gild’ is to cover a surface of something with a substance that looks like gold.

Confirming this, the Promised Messiahas also said, “In Arabic, ‘dajlun’ refers to a thing that is artificial from the inside but seemingly pure on the exterior. Copper that is gilded with gold from the outside is an example. This form of deception has existed in the world since the beginning of time. No era has been free from such fraud and deceit. What do we observe of goldsmiths?” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 2, p. 161)

The last sentence of the passage above is key. Indeed, what do we observe of goldsmiths except that they are actually the true instigators and the embodiment of the modern banking system as it stands today!

The secret of the philosopher’s stone: to make gold out of paper

To understand it, we need to go back some three and a half centuries in London. At that time, the currency was minted in precious metals (mainly gold and silver). However, gold quickly showed its limitations due to its heaviness and the fact that it was risky and impractical to carry. The goldsmiths therefore offered to keep the gold safe in their vaults. In return, the depositors received a paper receipt on which the goldsmith promised to return the amount inscribed in gold upon request. Everyone realised that these pieces of paper were convenient, and they ended up being used instead of gold for everyday purchases.

But the goldsmiths soon made a discovery that would affect mankind for centuries to come. They learned by experience that almost all the gold entrusted to them remained intact in their vaults. As the owners of this gold started to use the paper receipts in their commercial exchanges, it is hardly likely that one out of ten came to fetch the gold.

This is a critical moment in history because, at that moment, the goldsmiths changed their business model. They realise that the most obvious thing to do with this idle reserve of gold is to lend it to people of good standing who wish to borrow it. By charging interest on these loans (the rules on usury had been considerably liberalised in England to a maximum “capped” interest rate of five per cent), goldsmiths were able to make a good and exponentially growing return on this service with no effort. At the same time, they kept sufficient quantities in reserve in order to meet large requests from depositors to get their gold back.

But as the process of lending was contemplated, it became apparent to the goldsmiths that there was, in fact, no need to lend the physical gold in their vaults since their own receipts were equally regarded as money by the general public. As a consequence, they began to produce more receipts (not backed by real gold), and these were lent out as a proxy for gold. (cf., ‘dajlun’ — to gild)

Lending sums in excess of their gold reserves while charging interest on the paper receipts, the goldsmiths’ turned into bankers in the modern sense of the term: they manufactured money out of nothing with the stroke of their pen, but more importantly, they literally turned gold into paper.

The first man to introduce a comprehensive system of paper money as a national currency in eighteenth-century France, John Law, declared: “I have discovered the secret of the philosopher’s stone: it is to make gold out of paper.” He understood that money creation from paper was the continuation of alchemy by other means; that the latter was the successful culmination of usury. (David Hawkes, The Culture of Usury in Renaissance England, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, p. 155)

Modern-day money creation: the same old smoke and mirrors

As the years have passed, the banking industry has become more and more technologically sophisticated, and trust in bankers has become absolute. Yet, technological progress is just another facet of the original banking system of the goldsmiths and the money creation process, which, in essence, remains the same today.

The only difference is that gold has been replaced by what is called ‘base money’ or ‘central bank money’. This money is created only by central banks. Paper receipts have been replaced by ‘bank money’ or ‘scriptural money’. This is created solely by commercial banks (e.g., Barclays, HSBC, etc.). Central bank money is hierarchically superior to bank money.

The figure of commercial bank accounts materialises as a simple acknowledgement of debt (IOU) from the bank to the account holder. The phrase Bank of England – I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of x pounds on each sterling note precisely represents an acknowledgement of debt in central bank money of the central bank towards the one who possesses it.

In fact, in our modern economies, most money takes the form of bank deposits. However, how those bank’s deposits are created is often misunderstood: the principal way is through commercial banks extending loans. Whenever a bank makes a loan, it simultaneously creates a matching deposit in the borrower’s bank account, thereby creating new money. To put it another way: with a simple accounting entry, the bank credits the account of the client who finds himself in possession of an additional quantity of money.

The common misconception is that banks act simply as intermediaries, lending out the deposits that savers place with them. On the contrary, it is said that lending creates deposits. Regulation theoretically limits how much money commercial banks can create, however, the money lent to customers is created out of thin air and it is just a question of a few keystrokes on a computer keyboard.

Today, central bank money (in the form of banknotes and coins) represents only a very small fraction of the money in circulation. The money supply of scriptural money is equivalent to 97% (Bank of England, “Money creation in the modern economy”, Quarterly Bulletin, 2014) – a simple entry into a bank account, which circulates through various means of payment (bank cards, transfers, automatic debits, or cheques). And again, the first creators of scriptural money are the commercial banks. This means that all money, in and out of circulation, comes into existence as an interest-bearing loan in favour of the banking system of the world, and it is impossible to avoid usury (or interest) altogether, as prophesied by our Beloved and Holy Prophet Muhammadsa (Sunan Abi DawudKitab al-buyu‘, 3331).

The power of modern-day finance and the banking system is thus not only dominant; it is hegemonic, and no one can escape it. The Promised Messiahas also says that “the definite article ‘al’ in ad-Dajjal conveys a meaning of absolute totality.” (Malfuzat [English], Volume 2, p. 161). In other words, money, as things stand at present, is the power of one towards all of us and the debt of all towards one.

Knowing that the logic of modern banking was born out of a betrayal of the trust of gold depositors by goldsmiths, is this deceit not one manifestation of the Dajjal? Is Islam not the best response to this calamity by stamping out usury (the raison d’être of banks) in all its forms and driving out, once and for all, the ruthless Shylocks out of the temple?

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