101 ways with halal

February 17, 2010

SheepThe technicalities of Islamic finance may seem arcane to outsiders but participants of the Reuters Summit on Islamic Banking and Finance have been keen to take it to a broader audience.

On Tuesday Mahesh Jayanarayan, CEO of Halal Industries, unveiled his ambitious plans for a halal park in Wales, whilst stressing the industrial site could also house Welsh cottage industries. Halal is simply an Arabic term that means “permissible” but in the West it is largely associated with the preparation of meat and poultry.

Jayanarayan acknowledged that battling preconceived notions is part of the struggle, but pointed out that sharia investing had an ethical dimension that could appeal to a broader audience.

Gilles Saint Marc, a member of the Islamic Committee at Paris Europlace, added that many of the principles of Islamic finance were similar to those of the Franciscan order.

Few would wish to venture into that theological thicket but in the 13th century St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment, did go on a pilgrimage to Egypt to attempt a rapprochement with the Muslim world and it was the Franciscans who were allowed to stay on in the Holy Land after the Crusaders were finally run out of town.

Paris is still bidding to be an Islamic finance hub, but Saint Marc admitted that adapting the legal, tax and accounting frameworks had proved more difficult than originally anticipated. The Dubai World crisis hasn’t helped either.

“In terms of promoting Islamic finance in France this raised a number of questions… it has had a significant impact on its development,” he said. “People have seen that there is speculation everywhere and Islamic institutions are not necessarily more resilient.”

Plus ça change…

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