Islamic Finance or Financing Islamism?

Beginning in the 1970s, a little noticed phenomenon called Islamic or shariah finance made an appearance first in the Muslim world and eventually in the West. In the past few years, as oil prices climbed to unprecedented levels, generating huge pools of liquidity in the Middle East, shariah finance has skyrocketed commensurately and is now the fastest growing segment of international finance with some 400 banks participating in it and close to a trillion dollars under management, growing at 15% or more annually. Western financial institutions and even governments have eagerly jumped in the fray and most large Western banks today offer some Islamic financial products.


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