June 22nd, 2018

Knicq goes Riba-free.0

Tomorrow, at this time I will have tendered in my resignation to the Finance company I have been miserable in for the last 15 months. I will then be required to stay here for the mandatory notice period of 30 days, after which I shall, Insha Allah, begin my second tenure with the Logistics and Shipping giant, I had left over a year ago because the former had made me an offer almost 60% higher in cash terms than I was getting in the latter.

I do not know why, and I do not how, but I was able to talk myself into taking this position. The money was good, but that was just part of the reason. The job was not half as tough, did not require me to put in late hours, promised a glittering great career in banking, and given my majors in finance, seemed to be the right industry to opt for. On the contrary, the shipping company while being very exciting and challenging was beginning to have its toll on me. The long hours meant that seldom did I get home before 10:00 p.m. So much so, my own daughter would not recognize me as easily as she did her Mamoons – I used to leave before she woke up, and I used to get in quite often when she had already gone to bed. Targets were steep, and meeting them was no cause to celebrate. Despite the best of your efforts, you never knew where you were headed career-wise, because you were up against another eight who were equally good if not better than you at everything you were good at, and then there were a couple who were good at all the things you were bad at. Finally, for all the efforts you put in, the money was only about half as good as the finance company.

It had seemed to be a good decision – at the time.

In reality, I do not think I was more miserable ever in my professional or academic life, and that, folks, is almost all of my life. Actually, come to think of it, I was never miserable before 2004.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not being unthankful for Allah’s bounty and mercy. Looking back, it was a fine year, and many many good things happened to me during this year, Shukr Al Hamdu Lillah. But, there was always this sinking feeling, which just dampened the mood. The thought of eating riba, and feeding it to my kids was disconcerting to say the least.

In all of my 27 years preceding this banking move, I had faced challenges as does everyone. Comparatively speaking, 2004 was easier. There were no new challenges, apart from the one mentioned above. Yet, in all of those 27 years, I was happier and maintained a sunnier disposition at all times. In all of those 27 years, (okay, subtract the five for childhood) when I faced a challenge, I turned to Allah, and then waited patiently, yet confidently, for His divine intervention, and took it forgranted as it always came.

Things took care of themselves, and they did so so well as if apologizing for having perturbed me in the first place. 2004 was a year when I was petrified that if such an ocassion arose, things might not take care of themselves. Thankfully, the only hits I took were financial, and will you believe it, they always amounted to round about the incremental difference I had got at the finance company. That was just the additional, and more tangible, proof I needed to convince myself to opt out.

Actually, I had decided to opt out by the third day of my stay in this finance industry. A nightmare I had a few days before I had joined here played no small part in helping me arrive at that decision. The trouble was the local labour law laid down that an employee would invite a six month emplopyment ban if he or she chose to tender in a resignation prior having completed at least one year of service with an employer.

I remember having searched for a job in the other five GCC countries, but it was all in vain. I think I was destined to complete a year here so that I learnt my lesson well, which I did eventually. And then just about the time I was completing my year, this opportunity presented itself to me to get out of this industry, and I grabbed at it with both my hands.

Sure, the money is not as good as the finance company, but the package is not bad. It is actually better than most I know Alhamdu Lillah. I think I have been rewarded too for having held on to the conviction that I had to leave that riba-infested industry. I am back at the same company I was at, and this time at a better position than I had left it at, and with more opportunities for professional growth than ever before.

Most importantly, my heart is at peace. I am happy. I am happy and thankful, thankful to Allah for forgiving my transgression, and for continuously giving me those signs in the form of small financial set backs that the income from riba did not have barakah in it. I feel fortunate that way, in that many a muslim today spends a life time in banking today without getting these signs, but I was shown the perils of staying there. For that, I am grateful.

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that my father never took or paid interest. He never took an overdraft, nor a credit card. He earned about one third of what I do, had twice the number of children whom he put through the best of institutions, and still saved enough to start a li’l something of his own after retiring. That is what you call barakah, and I think Allah did not will the son of such a staunch muslim and a simple pious man to go astray eating riba.

I have been wanting to write this for a while, but always checked myself because it seems a bit too much like saying I am the pious one. Because, frankly, I am not. I have my many short comings, and if I died today, perhaps only the mercy of Allah, and the prayers of my loved ones would keep me from landing in the hot country in the hereafter. But, I have decided to share this with all my brothers and sisters, so they know exactly how miserable I was in a riba-infested job, even though it paid me more, and asked me to work very less.

I checked around with my colleagues, and I found that each one of them was just about as miserable. Some accorded all their misery to riba, others just complained of their miseries, but they were all miserable. It was horrible, and an eye-opener. There was at least one who actually had so much going wrong in his life, but he was impervious to all that. He had gone that far away from deen – he did not even realize that he was headed to certain doom.

So, I tell you brothers and sisters, if ever you are faced with the prospect of taking up a job in the riba-based industry, have faith and turn it down. It will bring you no good. I know that this coming from a finance graduate sounds rather ironic. How else do I think will the system work? Well, I have no idea. What I do know it does not work by going against the dictims of God Almighty. What I also know is that the riba based system is not the only system there is. The rest is for us to work on and figure out.

In the end, I ask you all for your blessings, and for your duas that I do not falter in my commitment to stay out of riba for the rest of my life. Ameen.

Work Woes!0

It takes a nut to do this, and by setting new standards in the procrastination phenomenon I have proven myself one of the highest calibre.

Its the 22nd today, almost 4 in the morning, and I am sitting here wondering if I should start work on this file worth 3 Million worth of contribution to my target of 12 Million, and it is 17 DAYS PAST THE FIRST DEADLINE!!!

Of course, there have been other deadlines; two per week since the first one elapsed, but the procrastinator in me refuses to make room for the possibility that it just might be the time to get started on this file. This beats all my past records – especially when considered in terms of its monetary repercussions – for someone. Feels great to be able to (not) call the shots on matters of such high monetary value.

The boss has actually tried everything from co-ercion to cajoling (of late) to get me started on this, and of course I have never failed to give him the standard procrastinator reply to all his queries – “I am working on it”. The truth of the matter is, I have not at all worked on the file. I sit here at this late hour of the night, or early hour of the morning, however you wish to put it, in the vain hope that I might just get started – I do know for a fact that once I do get started it will only be a matter of hours before the whole thing is done with… but starting on this is something I have managed to shun brilliantly so far… this blog entry being the latest testimony to that brilliance.

Why so, one might be excused to ask. Well, it is plain and simple. I do not feel like doing it!!!

Must I do it then?

… One might be tempted to resort to the tested formula that one must do what one must do, which may also be stated as “One need not do, what one need not do”. The question here is thus simpler… Need I do it?

Well, I do not … I should, but I need not. They should let me go when I want to, but they do not, because they need not. Fair enough?

Unprofessional, you might say. But hey, whoever staked a claim to being one? No-one in this outfit.

The Paradox0

So, here I sit. Month end just around the corner, and net conversions to soodkhors standing at a dismal nil. Should I not rejoice in the thought that I have actually been able to refrain from adding to my woes on the day of judgement? How does one do that though when plagued by concerns to meet one’s targets for the month? How does one rejoice when lamenting lost chances and near misses? Quite a dilemma wouldn’t you say?

The phone rings. It is some Mr. Vekantesh Prasad. Not the bowler, he is quick to clarify. I force a chuckle. Says, I met him some time ago. I do not recall, but I am not about to hold that against him. That, or anything for that matter. It must be one of those cold calls I had made. I fish for any clues as to what company he is calling from. No such luck. Anyway, decide to move on and talk some business. Turns out he needs about a million more than I can offer, at about 200 points less than would be feasible for me. Feel like
strangling him. Ditto for the bosses who thought of the stupid limits and rates. Everyone offers more than we do, at less than we do. Why even bother?

It is all good. This is the way it is meant to be. I am not meant to be converting people to Riba. Allah does not will it. He saves me from sin. I shall not, will not sell sood. But, the targets. What of the targets?

I take out my cards holder, open the latest edition of the Commercial Directory, and start calling people at random. It is crazy. I offer to give them money and no-one wants it. Everyone wants money. No-one wants it from me. It must be a sign. I should not be doing this job. What was that about a soodkhor being at war with Allah Himself!

It is 1600 hours now. 120 more snaily minutes to go. And 13 days!!! It is so strange, the minutes take eternity to pass, and the days fly by.

Must call. Must call.

The phone rings again. They are starting a project, and need a crane. And two Telehandlers. Rate no problem, want it now. My day is made. And the month. One deal to meet the month’s targets. Hallelujah!!! I take their details, fix urgent appointment. “Will be in the area anyway. Can always stop-over at your office.”

Run to the Boss. Got deal! Got business! Met targets – heck, exceeded targets!!! Pick up the keys. Slip on the jacket. Off I go.

Come to think of it, it is more trading than financing. We are advancing money for purchase of assets, and we do that at a profit. Actually, we are not even advancing money, we are paying the supplier directly. We just sell the asset to the buyer keeping a margin for ourselves. It is nothing but trading – plain and simple.

An hour and a half later – Hate this business. Hate all interest-based business.
Absolutely devoid of any barakah. Any divine intervention, if any, comes to squander matters. Imagine, such a gem of a deal. The requirement was there, the assets available locally. Would have happened in days – if only their cash flows were positive!

I was right the first time around. “Allah does not will it.”

It’s almost time.

Maybe tomorrow. There is that furniture manufacturer who needed half a million last month. Maybe I can get him in this month.

Got to meet the targets!

But then again, maybe not!!!

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