First Sharia-Compliant Exchange-Traded Fund Available Soon in Canada

Islamic financial services company UM Financial Inc. and Jovian Capital Corp. hope to list Canada´s first sharia-compliant exchange-traded fund (EFT) in the next week. In compliance with Islamic law, the index avoids firms involved in financial services alcohol, gambling and pork products. It would target Canada´s growing Muslim population (approximately one million) as well as foreign investors. In recent years, sharia-compliant EFTs have emerged in Britain, India, Singapore, Dubai, Malaysia and South Africa.

International Financial Centres Battle for Islamic Markets

International investment services compliant with Islamic financial law are competing for a slice of the oil revenue in the Middle East. With the price of crude oil almost doubling in the last year, countries with large Muslim populations and connections – including Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Birmingham and Paris – are vying to act as key centres of expertise in the new boom. A spokesperson for the British Standard & Poor’s claims that, “By preparing the ground for Islamic finance, France can help financial innovation and benefit from the deep pockets of Middle Eastern investors as liquidity has dried up elsewhere in the global financial markets.”

Generally, more and more businesses have come forward to meet demand for Shariah-compliant services. Approximately two-thirds of the world-wide market for Islamic bonds (sukuks), an estimated $100 billion, is currently based in Malaysia, where the industry first took off. Outside of Asia and the Middle East, Britain in particular, is seen as the clear leader, worth about $6.5 billion.

International Financial Centres Battle for Islamic Markets

International investment services compliant with Islamic financial law are competing for a slice of the oil revenue in the Middle East. With the price of crude oil almost doubling in the last year, countries with large Muslim populations and connections – including Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Birmingham and Paris – are vying to act as key centres of expertise in the new boom. A spokesperson for the British Standard & Poor’s claims that, By preparing the ground for Islamic finance, France can help financial innovation and benefit from the deep pockets of Middle Eastern investors as liquidity has dried up elsewhere in the global financial markets. Generally, more and more businesses have come forward to meet demand for Shariah-compliant services. Approximately two-thirds of the world-wide market for Islamic bonds (sukuks), an estimated $100 billion, is currently based in Malaysia, where the industry first took off. Outside of Asia and the Middle East, Britain in particular, is seen as the clear leader, worth about $6.5 billion.

Headscarves In The Headlines

France is not the only country where headscarves have proved contentious. A number of countries already ban the garment from schools and other public buildings, while elsewhere it is the failure of women to don a veil which prompts outrage.

Singapore
Singapore, keen to avoid racial and religious tensions between its ethnic Chinese majority and the Malay Muslim minority, has banned the scarf from schools. The Singapore government believes the ban is necessary to promote racial harmony, but Muslims say it infringes upon their religious freedoms.

Germany
The issue has come to a head in recent months after Germany’s supreme court ruled that a school was wrong to exclude a Muslim teacher because she wore a headscarf. The judges declared that current legislation did not allow for such a decision, but added that individual states would be within their rights to make legal provisions to this effect.

France The French parliament is widely expected to approve legislation banning overt religious symbols – including headscarves – from schools. President Jacques Chirac believes such a ban is necessary to preserve the secularity of the French state.

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority recently warned of “”grave consequences”” if women continued to appear unveiled.

Turkey
For the past 80 years Turks have lived in a secular state founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who rejected headscarves as backward looking in his campaign to secularise Turkish society. Scarves are consequently banned in civic spaces in the country.

Belgium
Two politicians, inspired by developments in neighbouring France, are hoping to push legislation through parliament that would ban the headscarf from state schools.

Russia
Muslim women last year won the right to wear the headscarf for identification photos, which was banned in Russia in 1997.

Denmark
A Muslim woman last year lost a high-profile court case against a large supermarket chain in Denmark after she had been fired for wearing a headscarf at work in 2001. The court ruled that her contract contained a dress code banning headgear.”