My fears that the credit crisis in conventional financial markets is spilling over to Islamic finance are becoming to be realized. The primary mechanism I identified in my blog (and in greater detail in a forthcoming opinion piece for Business Islamica magazine) for transmitting a crisis through the Islamic banks was falling property prices in the GCC countries that had mostly escaped the direct fallout from the subprime crisis that began in the United States. Although the prices have not fallen as dramatically as in Western countries, they are beginning to fall and this has an effect on Islamic banking because these assets are the underlying physical property used in many Islamic financing deals. From a Gulf Daily News article: "Falling prices in mainly Muslim countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia are likely to affect the Islamic finance market due to heavy reliance on such assets to support deals." A senior analyst at Zawya, Alexandra Tohme, adds her opinion on the link between Islamic financial institutions and the global credit crisis.
The Dinar Standard has an interesting article about the potential for Islamic banking in Europe.
The Financial Times has a Q&A on the basics of Islamic finance, as do a number of newspapers in the U.S. and there is also an article on finance based in Christianity.
Islamic finance could still grow by 20-25% a year despite the financial crisis according to Rushdi Siddiqui, the Global Director of the Dow Jones Islamic Market Indexes, but "Islamic banks should diversify their investments to generate revenues from different areas."
Hedge fund managers are targeting Muslim investors in the Middle East by developing Shari'ah-compliant hedge funds, but is it too late for them to attract investors given their often poor returns during the past couple of years.
The DIFC has lent its support to the new Master Agreements for Treasury Placements (MATP), the standardized contract from the International Islamic Finance Market (IIFM) that was recently announced.
Zurich Financial Services Group has launched a joint venture takaful company with the Abu Dhabi National Takaful Company to expand their operations in the GCC region.
The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), a multi-lateral effort to promote microfinance and based at the World Bank, released a study of 125 Islamic microfinancial institutions.