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Scholar: Buying locally made US products not permissible

By Waheed Taja,
IslamOnLine(IOL) Damascus Correspondent
July 4, 2002


A prominent Muslim Scholar in Syria said Wednesday, July 3, that it is not permissible to purchase American products manufactured in the Arab and Islamic world as long as part of its profits goes to the mother American company.

Dr. Mohammad Saeed Al-Bouti, head of the Beliefs and Religions Department in Islamic Law (Shariaa) School, Damascus University, received a question about “the Islamic ruling on purchasing American products manufactured locally, even if most of the profit goes to the local owners.”

In his fatwa, Al-Bouti said: “The American products which must be boycotted are those whose revenues go to the U.S. such as American cigarettes and restaurants. There are too many of these companies in our countries.”

He added that these products, which are manufactured in Arab and Islamic countries by franchise agreements given by American companies, must not be purchased, because part of its profit goes automatically to these companies. From these he excluded the products of originally U.S.-owned companies that have been purchased by Muslims. These, he said are no longer considered American but could be considered local.

“Boycotting American and Isr**li products are compulsory and it is the Jihad [struggle] that every Muslim can carry out in face of the Isr**li aggression and those who support it,” said Al-Bouti.

Similar fatwas (Islamic rulings) have been issued in the past by other Muslim scholars. Dr. Yousef Al-Qaradawi of Egypt said that the means to support Palestine Muslim brethren is a complete boycott of the enemies’ goods.

“Each riyal, dirham …etc. used to buy their [U.S., Isr**li] goods eventually becomes a bullet fired at the hearts of a brother or a child in Palestine,” he said. “For this reason, it is an obligation not to help them. To buy their goods is to support tyranny, oppression and aggression. Buying goods from them will strengthen them; our duty is to make them as weak as we can.”

“American goods, exactly like ‘Isr**li’ goods, are forbidden. It is also forbidden to advertise these goods,” Al-Qaradawi added. “America today is a second Isr**l. It totally supports the Zionist entity. The usurper could not do this without the support of America. “Isr**l’s” unjustifiable destruction and vandalism of everything has been using American money, American weapons, and the American veto. America has done this for decades without suffering the consequences of any punishment or protests about their oppressive and prejudiced position from the Islamic world.”

Al-Qaradawi added that the time has come for the Islamic Ummah (people) to say “No” to America, “NO” to its companies, and “NO” to its goods, which swamp our markets.

If the consumer buying Jewish or American goods is committing a major sin, surely the merchant buying these goods and acting as an agent is the greatest sinner, he added. Even if the company works under a different name, they know they are deceiving people.

Regarding the impact of boycott on Arab economies, Dr. Hussein Shihata, Professor of Islamic Economy at the School of Commerce, Al-Azhar University, said that the negative effects may be minimized with good planning.

“When boycotting American and Zionist products, there arises the need to make a well arranged plan for the boycott to make it effective, and to minimize its negative effects on us. We should bear in mind that this is a form of waging economic war on the enemies, and war always necessitates sacrifice; as we know, there is no achievement without pains.

“So it is a fact that the boycott has some side effects, but the losses it will inflict on the enemy will be much greater. Besides, we must not neglect that, as part of the positive results of the boycott, people will shift to purchasing local products and services, and this will result in economic advancement and help in upgrading of quality.

“In addition, the boycott, in the long run, will help Muslims depend on their own potentials in manufacturing their needs, thus creating a form of self-sufficiency.”

Another scholar, Dr. Monzer Kahf, a prominent Muslim economist and counselor, said that despite the fact that McDonald, KFC, Pepsi, Coca Cola and other American brands operating in the Gulf and most Arab countries are locally owned and their profits go to local owners, Muslim and non Muslim alike, these companies are granted franchise by the American mother companies; hence, they use their products and systems and pay them either an annual lump sum amount or in accordance with their sale or a combination of both.”

The real problem with these products, he added, is that they are not only using American products and paying franchise fees, but they also represent the "American culture."

“I think the businessmen who started them in our Muslim countries have done a grave mistake by importing the 'American way of life' in place of our traditional hommos [chick peas], fool [beans], shawerma, falafel/ta'miyyah [mashed beans], kebab [fried meat], booza [traditional ice cream] and other traditional fast food that you see all over the Muslim land from Morocco to Malaysia and Indonesia,” said Dr. Kahf.

Other Muslim scholars who have also issued fatwas on the boycott include names like Dr. Fu’ad Mukhaymar, the late Azharite scholar and the head of the Sunni Egyptian Institutions in Egypt, and Dr. As-Sayed Nuh, the prominent Azharite scholar, and professor of Hadith in Kuwait University.