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Commodities A Religious Experience For Muslims

While Muslims grapple with making hedge funds and the like Shariah-compliant, there is one form of investment that is as old as civilization and easily fits the bill for the observant religionists:

While Muslims grapple with making hedge funds and the like Shariah-compliant, there is one form of investment that is as old as civilization and easily fits the bill for the observant religionists: commodities. Islam forbids many forms of securities investments, but trading in metals, crude and even palm oil conform to a basic tenet of their religion: making a profit from trading goods. "Daily turnover? I reckon it would run into hundreds of millions of dollars or maybe billions," Mohamaed Iqbal, senior treasurer of Kuwait Financial House told Reuters. Reuters reports that observant Muslims for decades have been using commodities trades in place of money to seal deals, lest the cash conflict with Shariah law. The hot commodities market has inspired Islamic bankers at Citigroup to create a currency swap, especially for Muslim customers, for the Dubai Investment Group to use when it needs to hedge currency risk on an investment to Bank Islam of Malaysia. Almost any metals are ok for Islamic finance, except for gold. According to Islam, gold is a form of money, which under Shariah law is not a tradable asset – just as it has been for the past 1,500 years. While commodities seem to be the answer to the Muslim investors’ prayers, some Shariah scholars are not so sure. Commodities transactions are basically paper transfers of ownership, and purists would prefer an actual transfer of goods. "That’s a very, very sensitive subject to just trade assets that don’t move," Stella Cox of Dawnay Day Global Investments said in a Reuters interview.

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