“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.
Keep reading – Jesus saves, Moses lends, Muhammad invests