FOX NEWS: Shariah-compliant banking, sometimes called Islamic banking, is growing in popularity in the Western and Islamic worlds. But critics say American interest in the system at a time of economic crisis is opening the door to increased Islamic influence in the American banking system. Worse yet, some fear the banks may be helping to finance international terrorism.
In Shariah-compliant banking, lenders may not charge interest and investors cannot make money from forbidden industries like gambling, alcohol, pork and pornography. Selling debt, devising derivatives and short selling are also prohibited, and investments must be closely tied to actual assets.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones Islamic Index tracks Shariah-compliant companies and funds, and funds have sprung up like the Amana Mutual Funds Trust and the Azzad Asset Management.
American investment funds, like those offered by TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab, can invest in Shariah-compliant companies, and those companies can offer investments in American companies. Top holdings in the Azzad Ethical Midcap Fund, for example, include Western Digital Corp., Southwest Electric Co. and Apple Computer, Inc.
But allowing Shariah-compliant finance in the U.S. is green-lighting a seditious system that supports jihad, said Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C.
"If you understand what Shariah is, you understand that it is a pretty awful system. Not something that you'd want insinuated in your society and becoming a major feature of your economic system," Gaffney said.
Shariah (Islamic law as dictated by the Koran) governs all aspects of life, from the personal practice of the faith to how you relate to your family to how you relate to your business partners, to your community ... all the way up to how the world is run, and it is all one seamless program. You can't say 'I'll take the personal pietistic practice ... and skip the beheading and the flogging and the stoning and the global theocracy,'" he said.
Punishments for some crimes under Shariah law include amputation and stoning to death. On Tuesday it was revealed that a 53-year-old Egyptian doctor had been sentenced under Shariah law in Saudi Arabia to 15 years in prison and 1,500 lashes for allegedly getting a Saudi princess in his care addicted to drugs.
But despite Islamic banking's association with Shariah's harsh practices, the U.S. government is taking an interest in it. >>> | November 13, 2008
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