Jesus saves, Moses lends, Muhammad invests – Islamic finance accounts for 1 trillion in banking

“The interesting thing about Islam,” says Professor Constant Mews, “is that it was a much more commercial culture from the outset than Christianity.”

And from around the middle of the eighth century to the middle of the 13th, while European Christians were struggling through the Dark Ages, the Islamic world enjoyed a golden age.

Arab merchants had a lot to do with it.

“They developed alternative ways of regulating funds,” says Mews.

“In particular the core Islamic principle is simply one of sharing profit and loss. The desire is to promote investment by taking commercial risk.

“Risk, incidentally, is an Arabic word, referring to where you lend money to others without requiring a return unless there is profitable growth.”

And for some 500 years, this financial model underpinned advances in science, the arts, architecture, and innovation generally. Then came the Crusades and the Mongol hordes, and the Islamic model of finance declined, the space becoming filled by that other model.

Islamic finance, however, is undergoing something of a renaissance.

It is now a USD1 trillion industry…Mohamed Ariff continues the litany of statistical growth: there are 57 majority-Muslim nations, 76 countries which already practice Islamic banking, 350 banks, 15 insurance companies and about 1,200 mutual funds.

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Olympic Update – Muslim women can play beach volleyball with new uniform rules

The International Volleyball Federation has made a change to the bikini rules in beach volleyball. In a nod to Muslim countries, the uniform requirements have expanded to include short-shorts and long-sleeve shirts.

Lausanne, Switzerland – The FIVB Board of Administration approved a key change to women’s beach volleyball uniforms with immediate effect.

The Board approved to apply the modified women’s uniform rule for all beach volleyball tournaments, including the Olympic Games. This is to respect the custom and/or religious beliefs.

Previously there were two uniform choices for female players, a one-piece bathing suit or a bikini with a maximum side width of 7cm while full body suits could also be used under the bikini in cold weather. Now, there are three extra choices. Players can wear shorts of a maximum length of 3cm above the knee with sleeved or sleeveless tops or a full body suit.

via FIVB

Not to worry, though, as few players plan to make the change:

“It’s something I really feel comfortable with,” said Kerri Walsh, who with Misty May-Treanor won the gold medal in Athens and Beijing while wearing the standard beach volleyball uniform: a two-piece bathing suit. “It’s something I feel empowered by, not distracted with. I’m not a sex symbol; I’m an athlete. I want to be streamlined out there.”

Still, she applauded the change.

“I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “I don’t want anything as trivial as a uniform to keep anyone from chasing their dreams.”

via Sports Illustrated

Byblos, Lebanon – oldest inhabited city in the world (7,000+ years)

Carbon-dating tests have set the earliest age of settlement at Byblos around 7000 BC, however it was not officially established as a city until sometime around 5000 BC.

Byblos is in Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast about 26 miles north of Beirut. “Byblos” is the Greek name. The first city built by the Phoenicians, Byblos is Greek for “papyrus.” The Bible was named for Byblos as it was known as “the papyrus book.”

Between the fourth and thirteenth centuries, Byblos bounced between Christianity and Muslim rule during the various crusades. From early 1500’s until 1918, Byblos was part of the Ottoman Empire. From 1920 until 1943 Byblos was under French Mandate, and finally in 1943, Lebanon – and Byblos – achieved independence.

Today, Byblos is a progressive city that embraces its cultural history. Tourism is now one of the major industries for this ancient port, and Byblos is re-emerging as a premiere Mediterranean destination.

via Sometimes Interesting