1 April 2013
The Glasgow Community Education Association (GCEA) is a step closer to establishing Scotland’s first Islamic secondary school after it completed the £400,000 purchase of Abbotsford House, a B-listed Victorian building in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. If the project is successful, the building will be renamed The Islamic Institute and will offer secondary education to boys and girls in addition to housing a nursery. The GCEA currently has no plans to pursue public funding for the project.
This is not the GCEA’s first attempt to found an Islamic secondary school in Glasgow. Last year, the group failed to complete the purchase of the abandoned Holmlea Primary School in Cathcart for the same purpose. The successful purchase of Abbotsford House has prompted some to question the need for an Islamic school and to warn of the possible community divisions such a project might engender.
Opportunities will increase for German Muslims to invest their money in a “halal” way. So far, Islamic banking is not available in Germany, although well established in the UK, where there is a smaller Muslim population. Now the banking supervision Bakin recently organized a conference on Islamic banking, and the first licence has been given out to an Islamic bank in Mannheim that will open in January.
Christian-Democrat local politician Reinhard Löffler praises the initiative. A believing Christian, he considers Islamic banking a potential third way between capitalism and socialism. The “ethical dilapidation” of the current banking system calls for innovative solutions.
The London-based ABC International Bank’s Islamic Asset Management (IAM) entity, both of which are subsidiaries of the Bahrain-based consortium bank Arab Banking Cooperation, has launched the first retail Shariah-compliant capital-protected equity product in the UK under its ‘Alburaq’ brand. The savings product, which has a minimum subscription of just _500 and is a Shariah-compliant alternative to a conventional guaranteed equity bond, adds to an increasing number of retail Islamic financial offerings in the UK market, which now includes mortgages, Takaful (insurance), pensions, current and deposit accounts and even escrow accounts for money transfers. Other Shariah-compliant retail products in the process of being launched include ISAs (investment savings accounts) and child trust accounts. The product was structured by ABC International Bank and is offered in partnership with the Bank of Ireland, which has a long history of providing guaranteed equity bonds to UK consumers. ABC Group is one of the largest banks in the Arab world with assets totaling around $32.7 billion at the end of December 2007. The group announced net profits of $125 million for the year 2007. The government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been very supportive of developing the Islamic finance sector under the Labor Party’s social and financial inclusion policies. At the same time, it is the stated policy of the UK to develop London into an international hub for Islamic finance, investment and trade. Only yesterday at the Jeddah oil summit, Brown reiterated that oil producers in the GCC states should divert some of their record liquidity surpluses to investment in the developed countries in renewable energy initiatives and other sectors. These funds could be channeled through sovereign wealth funds; through conventional or Islamic capital flows. Bahrain-based Arcapita Bank, for instance, was one of the first Islamic financial institutions to invest in alternative energy in the UK in a wind farm project developed by Innogy.
A recent meeting between bankers from Italy and the Gulf was organized in an effort to build stronger ties, and included efforts to build Italy’s first Islamic bank later this year. The new venture could be part of the European Islamic Investment bank, headquartered in London. While it is expected that the initial customers would be entirely Muslim, the client base has hopes to expand to non-Muslims. Adnan Yousif, chairman of Arab banks, set an initial price of the institution at $147 million.
Brussels -In Molenbeek, students can enroll at the Avicenna Islamic school. The private school is not recognized and receives no subsidies. In order to obtain a certificate, the students have to take an examination before the examining board. Respect and discipline. Those are two values which the Avicenna school imparts. The posters of the French-speaking school hang at windows of the building beside the Al-Khalil mosque in Molenbeek. If all goes well, it will begin as early as September with the first and second years of secondary education. The news that there would be an Islamic school had been circulating for a while. Yesterday, the school’s organizers could not be reached. Avicenna is to be -in theory at least -a school for girls and boys, for Muslims and non-Muslims. […]
Lloyds TSB is to offer the UK’s first business account by a High Street bank that complies with Islamic law The accounts, offered throughout the firm’s 2,000 strong branch network, will not pay interest in order to meet the requirements of Islamic Sharia law. In addition, money held in the accounts cannot be invested in certain industries such as gambling or alcohol.”