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Opinion

Islamic finance: Profits without guilt

There is a natural controversy in Islamic finance about how strictly banks should adhere to Shariah rules. Some think certain structures that have proliferated and helped grow the industry should be banned – others say these are fine.

Whoever is right, the debate is certainly providing some amusing quandaries and contradictions among bankers eager to please their bosses as well as their customers.

During research for the Islamic finance awards, for example, Euromoney spoke to one banker with experience of Islamic finance, who had just started at a bank with a relatively new Islamic practice. He told Euromoney a leading competitor was damaging the reputation of the Islamic finance industry by using techniques whose compliance with Shariah rules was questionable.

"We will be more careful," the banker says.

So, Euromoney asks, a little later, which is the bank to look up to in the Islamic market? Which is the bank to which you would aspire to be most closely compared?

The banker reflects – and citing this firm’s market position – names the very same institution he had previously criticized so much for prioritizing growth over ethics.

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