FaithWorld

Islamic finance seeks to go green with environment-based products

(A partial solar eclipse is seen through a crescent of Faisal Mosque in Islamabad March 29, 2006. The track of the eclipse stretches from eastern Brazil, across the Atlantic to north Africa, then on to the Middle East, Central Asia, west China and Mongolia. REUTERS/Mian Khursheed)

(A partial solar eclipse is seen through a crescent of Faisal Mosque in Islamabad March 29, 2006. REUTERS/Mian Khursheed)

Financial products based on renewable energy and sustainable agriculture are emerging in Islamic finance as asset managers seek a crossover opportunity between ethical and sharia-compliant investing.

Islamic finance follows religious principles which forbid involvement in activities such as gambling, tobacco and alcohol, but the industry has only recently begun to stress themes of wider social responsibility, such as protecting the environment.

Last week, Malaysia announced guidelines for issuance of socially responsible sukuk (Islamic bonds), aimed at helping firms raise money for projects ranging from renewable energy to affordable housing.

In April the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, a government planning body, and the World Bank signed an agreement to develop funding for the emirate’s green investment programme, including “green” Islamic bonds. Dubai aims to derive 5 percent of its energy from sustainable sources and retrofit buildings to reduce energy consumption.

Kaleidoscope of flags marks Belfast’s sectarian fault lines

(The national flag of Scotland (C) flies amongst other flags in a street in East Belfast July 5, 2014. Horrified that Scotland might break up the United Kingdom by voting for independence this autumn, thousands of Northern Ireland loyalists are preparing to fight back using their favoured 17th century battle regalia: drums, flutes, banners and orange sashes. Photograph taken on July 5. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

(The national flag of Scotland (C) flies amongst other flags in a street in East Belfast July 5, 2014. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

In Northern Ireland, the flags of Israel and the Palestinians are potent symbols of conflict – but here they divide Catholics and Protestants rather than Jews and Muslims.

In the complex web of alliances that underpins the British province’s flag-obsessed politics, the Star of David has been adopted by pro-British Loyalists, mainly Protestants, many of whom sympathise with Israel.

Diego Maradona steals show from fellow Argentine Pope Francis

(Former soccer star Diego Maradona (L) hugs Pope Francis during a special audience held before a special interreligious "Match for Peace", at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican September 1, 2014. Current and former soccer stars representing various religious faiths will participate in the "Match for Peace", which will be held in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Monday night. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi )

(Former soccer star Diego Maradona (L) hugs Pope Francis during a special audience held before a special interreligious “Match for Peace”, at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican September 1, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi )

Pope Francis normally has no competition for attention when he is in a room but it was different on Monday when another larger-than-life Argentine – soccer great Diego Maradona – attended a papal event.

Maradona was among some 400 people who attended a special papal audience for players and organizers of a charity match that was being played on Monday night in Rome to promote peace and inter-religious cooperation.

from India Insight:

Reema Abbasi and a glimpse of Pakistan’s Hindu past

“Historic Temples in Pakistan: A Call to Conscience” is a book-length attempt to record in pictures the history of an Islamic country’s Hindu past, especially as extremist activity mounts against Pakistan's religious and ethnic minorities, including Ahmadis, Christians, Sikhs and Shia Muslims.

Reema Abbasi, the book's author, travelled the country to write this narrative of about 40 old religious sites, including Hindu temples in the jagged terrain of the western state of Balochistan. She also visited the Thar desert and the Indus River valley in the state of Sindh, as well as Karachi, Lahore, Punjab and dangerous stretches of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, along the border with Afghanistan.

Born a Pakistani in the Netherlands, she went to school in England, college in Karachi, and then worked as a journalist. A self-described "spiritual Muslim," she has aspects of most religions in her home, such as an idol of Sai Baba, the cross and quranic verses.

Islamic State’s appeal presents Jordan with new test

(A militant Islamist fighter uses a mobile to film his fellow fighters taking part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. The fighters held the parade to celebrate their declaration of an Islamic "caliphate" after the group captured territory in neighbouring Iraq, a monitoring service said. The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot previously known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), posted pictures online on Sunday of people waving black flags from cars and holding guns in the air, the SITE monitoring service said. Picture taken June 30, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer)

(A militant Islamist fighter uses a mobile to film his fellow fighters taking part in a military parade along the streets of Syria’s northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer)

He had a good job and a loving family, but it wasn’t enough for a 25-year old Jordanian who abandoned his life of privilege in Amman to join the Islamic State group that has seized swathes of neighbouring Iraq and Syria.

Handsome, courteous and highly regarded in his profession as a radiologist, the man, whose name has been withheld for security reasons, disappeared in early August after the Muslim Eid holiday. He did not tell his family where he was going.

Ultra-orthodox Jews forced from Guatemala village after local opposition

(A young member of a Jewish community looks back while walking towards a bus as he and fellow members prepare to leave the village of San Juan La Laguna August 29, 2014. A few months after moving from Canada to a remote part of Guatemala to find religious freedom, a group of ultra orthodox Jews have been forced out of their homes in a bitter conflict with hostile villagers. The Lev Tahor community packed its bags on Friday in San Juan la Laguna around 150 km (93 miles) west of Guatemala City, to board buses bound for the capital after weeks of friction with sections of the local population. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez)

(A young member of a Jewish community looks back while walking towards a bus as he and fellow members prepare to leave the village of San Juan La Laguna August 29, 2014. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez)

A few months after moving from Canada to a remote part of Guatemala to find religious freedom, a group of ultra orthodox Jews have been forced out of their homes in a bitter conflict with hostile villagers.

The Lev Tahor community packed its bags on Friday in San Juan la Laguna around 150 km (93 miles) west of Guatemala City, to board buses bound for the capital after weeks of friction with sections of the local population.

Capital gains mean church losses in new German tax twist

(The Cologne cathedral is pictured October 16, 2005. WORLD CUP 2006 PREVIEW CITYSCAPE REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/)

(The Cologne cathedral,  October 16, 2005. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/)

A change in Germany’s capital gains tax has prompted an exodus from its Catholic and Protestant churches this year as thousands of registered members quit their parishes rather than pay the money.

Dioceses in both churches have reported in recent weeks that the number of members deserting them has jumped compared to last year, often by 50 percent or more, as banks prepare to withdraw church tax at source for capital gains from January 1.

German tax authorities collect an 8 or 9 percent premium on churchgoers’ annual tax bills and channel it to the faiths to pay clergy salaries, charity services and other expenses. Members must officially leave the church to avoid paying this.

One Iraq villager’s refusal to convert triggered Islamic State mass killings

(A refugee woman from the minority Yazidi sect, who fled the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, sits with a child inside a tent at Nowruz refugee camp in Qamishli, northeastern Syria August 17, 2014. Proclaiming a caliphate straddling parts of Iraq and Syria, Islamic State militants have swept across northern Iraq, pushing back Kurdish regional forces and driving tens of thousands of Christians and members of the Yazidi religious minority from their homes. Picture taken August 17, 2014. REUTERS/Rodi Said )

(A refugee woman from the minority Yazidi sect, who fled the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, sits with a child inside a tent at Nowruz refugee camp in Qamishli, northeastern Syria August 17, 2014. REUTERS/Rodi Said)

When Islamic State militants stormed into a northern Iraqi village and ordered everyone to convert to Islam or die only one person refused. But that did not satisfy the Sunni insurgents who are even more hardline than al Qaeda.

The militants, who have seized much of northern Iraq since arriving from Syria in June, wasted no time after the village’s leader, or sheikh, stood up for his ancient Yazidi faith.

Violence, threats, prompt more Muslim women in Britain to wear a veil

(Yasmin (L), 16, pushes Hana (C), 16, on a swing after finishing a GCSE exam near their school in Hackney, east London June 6, 2013. Hana started wearing her headscarf full time aged 12. She was already wearing it at school and her family supported her so it was easy for her to make the decision. She says if felt like nothing had changed except her relationship with God. Reuters photographer Olivia Harris took portraits of a range of Muslim women in Britain and asked them why they chose to wear a hijab or veil. Picture taken June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Olivia Harris)

(Yasmin (L), 16, pushes Hana (C), 16, on a swing after finishing a GCSE exam near their school in Hackney, east London June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Olivia Harris)

When youth worker Sumreen Farooq was abused in a London street, the 18-year-old decided it was time to take a stand – and she started to wear a headscarf.

Farooq is one of many young Muslim women living in Britain who have, for various reasons, chosen to adopt the headscarf to declare their faith to all around them, despite figures showing rising violence against visibly identifiable Muslims.

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti denounces Islamic State group as un-Islamic

(Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, the Kingdom's grand mufti, prays during the funeral of the Saudi woman and her daughter who were killed in Chad, at the Grand Mosque in Riyadh February 6, 2008. A bomb attack on the residence of the Saudi ambassador to Chad killed the wife and daughter of an embassy employee taking shelter from the fighting between the government and rebel forces. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)

(Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, the Kingdom’s grand mufti at the Grand Mosque in Riyadh February 6, 2008. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, the highest religious authority in the country, has said the militant groups Islamic State and al Qaeda were “enemy number one of Islam” and not in any way part of the faith.

Although the mufti and other senior Saudi clerics have condemned Islamic State, al Qaeda and other groups before, the timing of Al al-Sheikh’s statement is significant given the gains by militants in Iraq.