Alamad: Strong and growing interest in Shariah-compliant finance products in the UK.
By Denise Marray
Gulf Times Correspondent
Al Rayan Bank, whose parent company is Masraf Al Rayan, has conducted a series of UK Islamic finance information events in the cities of Leicester, Manchester, London and Birmingham over the past six weeks.
Designed to improve understanding of Islamic finance, the events were attended by customers and members of the general public, both Muslim and non-Muslim. To conclude the activity, the Bank yesterday hosted an Islamic finance Twitter event to give those unable to attend in person the chance to have their questions on Shariah-compliant finance answered.
Samir Alamad, head of Shariah Compliance and Product Development, Al Rayan Bank, said, “It’s been a pleasure to see so many people attend our Islamic finance information events. Islamic banking is designed to enable society to conduct its finances in a way that is fair and ethical. And for this reason there is a strong and growing interest in Shariah-compliant finance products in the UK, not only amongst Muslims who want to conduct everyday banking in accordance with their faith, but also non-Muslims who are looking for an ethical alternative to conventional banking.”
At each event, Alamad gave an introductory presentation, and then answered questions directly from the audience. A common topic, during the two-hour discussions, was how Islamic banks differ from conventional banks; this was especially relevant to the relatively large numbers of non-Muslims attending each event. Alamad explained that in addition to the fact that Islamic banks do not use interest in their products, they also differ from conventional banks in terms of their structure, governance, approach, products and services, and ethical principles.
An internal ethics (Shariah compliance) department monitors the products Al Rayan Bank sells as well as how it conducts its business on a day-to-day basis, ensuring that everything the bank does is ethical and Shariah-compliant. In addition, an external and independent ethics committee (known as the Shariah Supervisory Committee) oversees all of the Bank’s activities.
Al Rayan Bank is the UK’s only wholly Shariah-compliant retail bank. With a national retail branch and agency network, as well as Internet and telephone banking services, the bank serves more than 60,000 customers. In May 2015, Al Rayan Bank was named by Global Finance magazine as one of the best Islamic banks in the world in its annual list.
The Bank has also been recognised as an ethical alternative to conventional banks by the Move Your Money campaign and Ethical Consumer magazine, which places Al Rayan Bank in the top ten of ethical current account providers. In addition, Al Rayan Bank is an accredited ‘Living Wage Employer’, voluntarily opting to pay its employees a ‘Living Wage’ which is significantly higher than the current UK minimum wage and the new compulsory National Living Wage, to be introduced in 2016.
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