"Islamic Banking" Takes Hold in Britain

(Telegraph -- UK) Charles Moore - This month saw the launch of Britain's first fully regulated and approved Sharia-compliant bank, the Islamic Bank of Britain. And the big banks have also developed Islamic banking arms. HSBC now boasts of "Our Sharia Board" stuffed with learned sheikhs and Justices from Arabia and Pakistan. What is being proposed with Islamic banking is actually a hardening of the religion, not an accommodation of its existing custom. HSBC's Sharia Board include members of the Deoband, the long-standing ultra-conservative group whose schools in Pakistan educated many of the Taliban. Two others are Wahhabis, trained by the intolerant and puritanical school of thought that dominates the religious life of Saudi Arabia. We cannot just regard Islam in Britain as a charmingly exotic addition to the English country garden. Once there are Islamic financial institutions, how long will it be before Muslims insist that the state and business direct all their monetary dealings with Muslims through these institutions (boycotting businesses with Jewish connections en route)?

2004-08-23 00:00:00

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