Since the opening of the first Islamic bank in Egypt in 1963, Islamic finance has exponentially increased in influence and visibility worldwide. While it remains a small player in the world of finance (0.5%), Islamic finance is becoming increasingly important due to significant increases in oil prices, growing at an average annual rate of 15% to reach $1,300 billion in 2010, according to the IMF. France, which boasts the largest Islamic community in the Western world (estimates range from 3 to 5 million Muslims), surprisingly still lacks an offer of financial products targeted at the Muslim community.
Islamic finance in France would have to ensure that the financial products offered at a Sharia-compliant bank would meet the ethical and religious standards of the Muslim community. These principles essentially revolve around the prohibition of 'riba', the interest rate, the prohibition of 'gharar', uncertainty or speculation, and the prohibition of investments in 'haram' industries i.e. morally reprehensible ones, such as the pork product industry or pornography. Islamic finance also comes with the condition of asset-backed investments and the obligation for the lender to share the profits and the losses of an investment. Despite a thriving market, no real offer of Sharia-compliant products (sukuks, murabaha) currently exist in France.
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