The development of the Islamic financial tradition in contemporary Britain

Housby, Elaine S. (2005). The development of the Islamic financial tradition in contemporary Britain. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000e8d2

Abstract

This thesis considers developments in the provision of Islamic financial products in Britain in the first few years of the twenty-first century, in the light of some important debates about the situation of British Muslims, and of some more general debates within the sociology of religion. The opening chapter considers some of the main issues raised by the literature on British Muslims, and then moves on to outline the Islamic financial tradition. The two central chapters report some examples of Islamic financial activity, dividing these broadly into those related to the problem of Riba (fixed interest payment) and those which raise questions concerning Gharar (uncertainty and speculation). These chapters are largely based on material produced by the leading Islamic product providers and on media coverage of them. The final Analysis chapter relates this material to the wider theoretical issues outlined in the Introduction. It concludes that developments in Islamic finance present a challenge to conventional assumptions that there is an opposition between Islam and modernity, and to the established debate on secularisation. The activity here documented also undermines the traditional debate on multi-culturalism by demonstrating the creative interchange between Islamic tradition and twenty-first century Britain. The analysis further argues that developments in Islamic finance in Britain during the period studied were the product of factors very specific to the time and place. In particular the government played an important role in promoting these developments, for reasons related to its own political objectives.

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