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No interest

Islamic banking from a religious studies and financial perspective

By Janet Harron

An expert in Islamic banking and finance will present on the topic on the St. John’s campus this week.

Dr. Abdulazeem Abozaid is an associate professor in the Islamic finance program at the Qatar Foundation in Doha, Qatar. He is also currently in Canada as a result of a private sponsorship program for Syrian refugees and hopes to immigrate to the country permanently within the next couple of years.

The event will take place on Thursday, July 6, at 12:30 p.m. in IIC-3001, Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation. The talk is being sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Upon arriving in St. John’s, Dr. Abozaid reached out to Dr. Jennifer Selby in the department as her research interests intersect with his own. Dr. Selby says the topic of Islamic banking is a significant market to know more about on “a number of scores.”

‘Useful models’

“From a religious studies perspective, it is fascinating to consider how religious principles and laws are mobilized in financial contexts,” she said.

“Second, from a financial perspective, demand for Islamic banking has grown significantly in recent years and so anyone interested in global finance should have an understanding of how it works. Moreover, given crises in “traditional” Western banking in recent years, Islamic banking can offer useful models for diversification for non-Muslims both in international and domestic contexts.”

Unlawful interest

One example of this diversification is how Islamic banks deal, or, rather, don’t deal, with interest.

According to Dr. Abozaid, charging interest is unlawful for Muslims. In the case of a real estate purchase, Islamic banks take responsibility for the asset in question by purchasing a property and then selling it back to the client. There is a difference between the price the bank pays and the credit price the bank sells the asset for.

“I’m grateful to Dr. Abozaid, a renowned and respected expert in the field, for taking the time to introduce the Memorial community to this topic,” said Dr. Selby.


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