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First Bank To Operate On Basis Of Islamic Law Opens In Syria – Middle East News August 28, 2007

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First Bank To Operate On Basis Of Islamic Law Opens In Syria – Middle East News

Syria on Monday opened its first Islamic bank – one that operates exclusively on the basis of Shariah, or Islamic law – with a starting capital of 5 billion Syrian pounds ($100 million).

The opening of the Kuwaiti-owned Cham Islamic Bank in Damascus was attended by Syrian Finance Minister Mohammed al-Hussein and Adib Mayaleh, governor of the Central Bank.

Adnan Mosallem, head of the Cham Islamic Bank’s administrative council, said the bank would start business by offering various financial services in accord with Islamic law.

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SunniPath Blog – » Meet SunniPath at ISNA August 25, 2007

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SunniPath Blog – » Meet SunniPath at ISNA!

Before ISNA:

How to Benefit the Most from ISNA
A Pre-ISNA Online Lecture with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Wednesday, August 29th at 6:30pm PST / 9:30pm EST
Attend through the SunniPath Homepage

At ISNA:

Fall Semester registration launches at ISNA.
Visit us at Booth #522.

At ISNA’s MSA Conference:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani:

Parallel Session 3a – Creating & Sustaining North American Muslim
Scholarship
4:30pm – 5:30pm
Saturday, September 1st
Rosemont A

Main Session 4 – Eliminating Ethnocentrism: Creating Connections
9:00am – 10:30am
Sunday, September 2nd
Hyatt Grand Ballroom

Parallel Session 4a – Islamic Leadership: Avoiding Arrogance
11:00am – 12:00pm
Sunday, September 2nd
Rosemont A

Ustadha Noura Shamma:

Parallel Session 3c – The Soul & The Student Struggle
4:30pm – 5:30pm
Saturday, September 1st
Rosemont C

Parallel Session 5a – Serenity in Every Struggle
4:15pm – 5:15pm
Sunday, September 2nd
Rosemont A

Meet SunniPath at ISNA

World Politics Review | As Oil Revenues Boom, Islamic Banking Goes Global August 24, 2007

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World Politics Review | As Oil Revenues Boom, Islamic Banking Goes Global

Caribou Coffee,
the second-largest U.S. java seller, seems at first blush like a fairly
ordinary American company. The chain was founded in 1992 in the small
town of Edina, Minn., the brainchild of idealistic newlyweds, and has
since expanded to over 400 coffeehouses in 18 states. Caribou’s menu is
muffins and lattes — not an Arabic coffee in sight. It may come as a
surprise, then, to know that Caribou Coffee is “Shariah compliant,” one
of the largest American businesses to run its operations in accordance
with Islamic law.

Caribou isn’t alone. After decades on the economic backburner, flush
oil revenues are giving Middle Eastern companies and investors new
prominence on the global financial stage. As a result, rising demand
for Islamic-friendly investments is forcing multinational corporations
— and not just in Muslim-majority countries — to consider what the
Quran has to say about their business practices. The boom carries over
to the financial sector, where firms offering Shariah-compliant
products or consulting services to companies that seek compliance have
themselves seen explosive growth rates.


Caribou went Shariah-compliant in 2000 after the Bahrain-based
investment bank Arcapita purchased a controlling stake in the company.
In terms of day-to-day operations, the Shariah-compliance designation
primarily affects how the firm manages its finances. Under Islamic law,
or Shariah, it is forbidden either to pay or receive interest. Interest
— the fee charged for the chance to borrow money — is one of the
central principles of modern economics, but Shariah-compliant companies
structure their financial operations in a manner that bypasses interest
altogether.

Jawad Ali, a partner at the law firm King & Spalding who
specializes in helping companies adjust their financial operations to
attain Shariah-compliance, recently explained to me in an interview
how this process works. In many cases, Ali says, firms and would-be
lenders structure Shariah-compliant deals around the principle of
leasing. Suppose a company wants to buy a property. Rather than
granting a loan for the price of the property, a bank can instead buy
the property and rent it to the firm. The arrangement is acceptable
under Islamic law, Ali explains, because the bank has taken the risk of
owning the property, and no interest is charged in the process of the
transaction. Lease arrangements of this sort represent one of the most
common types of Shariah-compliant contracts, but there are many others.
The Web site Islamic-finance.com has a useful primer that takes a more thorough look at the technical workings of different types of Islam-compliant contracts.

The financial nitty-gritty aside, though, the simple fact of Islamic
banking’s rapid growth within the financial services sector stands out
as striking. The multinational accounting firm KPMG estimates in a prospectus
(pdf file) that the global Islamic finance sector encompasses around
270 banks, $265 billion in assets, and over $400 billion in
investments. Moreover, KPMG says the sector is growing at a clip of
roughly 15 percent per year, and could serve 40 to 50 percent of the
world’s Muslim population within a decade. Ali, for his part, says King
& Spalding’s Shariah-compliance services have seen even faster
growth, expanding at 35 to 40 percent per year. [read on]

When Hedge Funds Meet Islamic Finance – WSJ.com August 9, 2007

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When Hedge Funds Meet Islamic Finance – WSJ.com

One recent afternoon, New York money manager James Rickards presented Sheik Yusuf Talal DeLorenzo with a dilemma: Could his hedge fund be Islamic-friendly?

Islam prohibits all kinds of speculative behavior that is embedded in Wall Street’s DNA. But Mr. DeLorenzo, a Massachusetts-born convert to Islam, is on a mission to meld centuries-old Islamic law with modern finance in the U.S.

Renting Vs. Buying: Realities of Home Ownership August 3, 2007

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Sunni Sister: Blahg Blahg Blahg » Blog Archive » Renting Vs. Buying: Realities of Home Ownership

Award-winning blogger, Sunni Sister, on the ball:

Muslims who abide by the Command of Allah regarding riba are often told that we are “throwing our money away” by not engaging in the interest-based home mortgaging system to buy a house and “establish the Muslim community” in the United States. Personally, I think it’s kind of shady to try and entice people to violate the Command of Allah by appealing to their care for the Ummah and their desire to be good Muslim citizens, but… whatever. But let me not rant on this latest haram that has suddenly been made halal by (thank God) a handful of “experts.”

There is a really good blog out there called Get Rich Slowly, and recently, he wrote an article about this idea that people who rent “throw their money away,” while people who buy make sound financial decisions and see a return on their dolo.

Renting vs. Buying: The Realities of Home Ownership

I’m not saying that some of the things he outlines should be counted as “reasons not to engage in riba’” by us Muslims. I only posted it b/c it kind of points out how, in a dunya sense, we actually aren’t throwing our money away. And of course, in the larger scheme of things — in the things that matter — we aren’t throwing money away. You’re getting something in return for that money anyway: a roof over your head, a bathroom, appliances (in most places), and so on. You’re paying for something, and you’re getting something out of it. Who ever said it was all supposed to be easy? We’re investing in our akhira. Come join us in the Society for Riba’ Free Livin’.

Related links from the Renting vs. Buying article:

Wall Street Journal: Your Home Isn’t the Nest Egg That You May Think It Is
New York Times: A Word of Advice During a Housing Slump: Rent
New York Times: Is it better to buy or rent? (graphical calculator)
The Motley Fool: The Worst Investment Ever
SmartMoney.com: Renting Makes More Financial Sense Than Homeownership
CNN Money: Stocks vs. Real Estate
Priced Out Forever: Renting vs. Purchasing

Marketing to Muslims | Food, fashion and faith | Economist.com August 2, 2007

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Marketing to Muslims | Food, fashion and faith | Economist.com

MARKETERS and self-proclaimed trendspotters in the Western world love slicing and segmenting consumers into an ever larger number of categories. They created the teenager, the yuppie, the baby boomer, the singleton and the metrosexual. For all of them they invented “needs” that could, inevitably, be met by whatever product they happened to be promoting. Yet to this day they tend to tiptoe around Muslims as a distinct market segment.

Although they have settled into a fairly comfortable relationship with Jews and Christians whose cultures they feel they know and understand, the cultural divide with the Muslim world seems to be too daunting.

But a new study by JWT, an advertising agency, points out that the 6m or so Muslims in America are, on average, richer and better educated than the general population. Two-thirds of Muslim households make more than $50,000 a year and a quarter earn over $100,000; the national average is $42,000. Two-thirds of American Muslims have a college degree, compared with less than half of the general population. Muslim families also tend to have more children. So the perception that marketing specifically to Muslims is not worthwhile would appear to be wrong.

According to JWT food, finance and packaged goods are the three consumer markets most affected by Islamic law. The global halal market
is worth some $580 billion annually. In America an estimated 16% of
sales in the $100 billion kosher industry comes from Muslims who lack
adequate halal options. Manischewitz, the leading maker of
kosher foods, has already spotted an opportunity. Last year it launched
its first campaign under the theme “Simply Manischewitz”
designed to reach out beyond Jewish customers.

Muslim-owned consumer-goods companies are also beginning to tap the
Muslim market in the West. Since January the Burqini—a
full-coverage swimsuit made by Ahiida, whose founder is a Lebanese
immigrant in Australia—has been sold internationally, mainly
online. As the name implies, the polyester suits are a cross between a
burqa and a bikini, and are designed in accordance with Islamic law
requiring women to dress modestly.

Similarly NewBoy Toys, a Syrian firm, has created Fulla as an
alternative to the blonde, big-breasted Barbie doll made by Mattel, an
American toymaker. Fulla has dark hair, brown eyes and a small chest,
and wears a white headscarf and a coat. Unlike Barbie, Fulla does not
have a boyfriend or a job, say her makers. She spends her time cooking,
reading and praying.

Big Western companies have also started to reach out to Muslim
consumers, albeit slowly. In April McDonald’s, the biggest American
chain of fast-food restaurants, began serving halal Chicken
McNuggets and other food items permissible under Islamic law for a
trial period at a restaurant in Southall, in west London. The firm is
treading carefully: the new offerings are not advertised beyond the
walls of the restaurant. Yet demand is strong, sales are increasing,
and McDonald’s is thinking about extending the experiment.

Such companies are also trying to be more sensitive and inclusive in
their approach to Muslims. Each year Coca-Cola, the biggest maker of
soft drinks, runs a series of marketing initiatives focused on charity
and tolerance during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. An ad based on
the concept of sharing food during iftar, the fast-breaking
meal after sunset, is especially popular. Yet Coke is not adapting its
global brands to Muslim consumers. “We don’t segment our
consumers based on religion,” says a spokesman for the firm.