BBC: Non-Muslims Open Accounts with Islamic Banks

Economy News Desk

BBC: Non-Muslims Open Accounts with Islamic Banks
By Economy News Desk
Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Interest-free banking is increasingly gaining international acceptance. Though an Islamic concept, as interest is prohibited under Islam, similar banks are becoming popular among non-Muslims.

In a report on Islamic banking, BBC TV looked into the rising popularity and the many non-Muslims who opened accounts in such banks.

In an interview with client Emma Dellaway, she said she preferred an Islamic bank because of her conviction that money deposited in the bank would not be used for harmful ends.

Stressing that there was growing interest from non-Muslims sensitive about banking ethics, the BBC spoke about the issue with Paul Sherrin, Chair of the Islamic Finance Section at Lloyds TSB Bank.

Sherrin said that in Malaysia, 25 percent of people with an Islamic bank account were non-Muslim. Sherrin noted that people want to know that their money will not be used in non-ethical business transactions. The UK bank started offering Islamic banking at over 30 of its branches earlier this year.

Interest-free banks, which operate in accordance with Islamic financial rules, work under the guidance and counseling of a committee that includes Islamic law experts. If the committee disapproves of any given transaction, the bank does not proceed, no matter how lucrative it might be.

For instance, an interest-free bank does not use or lend money deposited from businesses involved in the trade of pork products or alcohol. Such banks also do not accept funds acquired through illegitimate means, such as money earned from gambling.