Friday, October 06, 2006

Islamic derivatives?

"The Forbidden Fruit", Zawya (from Banker Middle East), September 2006

Deutsche Bank claims to have developed a Shari'ah-compliant derivative that would allow Islamic investors to enter the derivatives market, but many scholars are sceptical about whether derivatives can ever be Shari'ah-compliant. Sheikh Mohammed Taqi Usmani, a Shari'ah scholar on the Shari'ah boards of several large banks & the Dow Jones Islamic Market index believes derivatives are incompatible with Shari'ah law, "They are completely against the principles of Shari'ah and I am of the view that we should not even enter the field". However, another prominent Shari'ah scholar Dr. Hussain Hamid Hassan who is a member of the Deutsche Bank Shari'ah board for derivatives disagrees and say the derivative products are created within a conservative Shari'ah framework. Dr. Hussain says, "We don't want to make money at the risk of our reputation, or against the letter and the spirit of Shari'ah, so it is important that the scholars are fully informed and involved on even the most complex and innovative structures." The article comes out on the side of neither scholar, asserting that the real question is not whether derivatives can be made halal, but whether derivatives should be used at all or whether they are just too potentially risky for the international financial system.

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