Islamic Banking System: Is it cruel?
By Julian Knight
Personal finance reporter, BBC News
“I hate to think of arms going to some African country funded, however indirectly, from my account.”
Ms Dellaway took an unusual step to follow through her ethical beliefs.
She opened an Islamic current account.
Ms Dellaway is not alone in equating Islamic finance with ethical living.
“Branches are reporting interest from all communities,” says Paul Sherrin, head of Islamic Finance at Lloyds TSB, which allong with HSBC and Islamic Bank of Britain offers Sharia compliant accounts.
“There is an international precedent for this. In Malaysia up to 25% of Islamic accounts are opened by non-Muslims.
“This is happening on a smaller scale over here, a number of non-Muslims are keen that the account doesn’t get involved in interest or anything they perceive as unethical.”
Islamic accounts comply with Sharia law.
Under Sharia Islamic law, making money from money, such as charging interest, is usury and therefore not permitted.
Wealth should be generated only through legitimate trade and investment in assets.
But what really appeals to Ms Dellaway are the other aspects of Islamic banking.
“I have a guarantee that my money will not be used to invest in arms or tobacco,” she says.
Sharia law also forbids investment in alcohol, gambling and pornography.
Ms Dellaway has always been interested in the Middle East. She has spent time in Libya, studied politics at university and has friends from all faiths.
The reaction amongst Ms Dellaway’s friends and family to her decision seems to bear this out.
“They have been really interested in what I have done. They ask lots of questions and can see how closely ethical finance and the Islamic financial models fit together,” Ms Dellaway says.
“When I went into my branch and told them I was keen on opening an Islamic current account, the staff member was unsurprised.
“I thought that perhaps I would be looked at as a bit of a lunatic but not a bit of it.”
The fact that Islamic bank accounts do not pay interest is not a problem to Ms Dellaway.
“I see giving up interest the same as recycling, visiting a farmers market or using the Red American Express card.
“Perhaps, though, if I had lots of money I would look at it differently and want interest.”