Islamic Financial Services in the United Kingdom

By Elaine Housby | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

Before and after the recession

The rapid development in Islamic financial services in the United Kingdom took place during the first seven or eight years of the twenty-first century. While the subsequent global crisis in conventional banking brought the reputation of the industry to an all-time low, it has only increased interest in the Islamic financial sector, which has been perceived to be more stable. The tone of many articles written by Islamic bankers during the period of crisis is distinctly self-congratulatory. However, in harsh practical terms the Islamic sector has suffered too. This book has shown that many promising products have been withdrawn from the market in the face of economic recession and intense risk aversion. Periodic setbacks of this kind are inevitable. The real cause for concern is that the recurrent rhetoric about Islamic finance being more secure because it ‘does not create money out of nothing’ is often unexamined.

There are increasing worries about the scale of the Islamic sector’s exposure to a falling property market. Its promoters emphasise constantly that its strength lies in the fact that in Islamic contracts all finance is secured on a real underlying asset, but what if that real asset is losing value? The surge of activity in Islamic finance in the United Kingdom, particularly in the area of home purchase finance, was at least partly due to the assumption that property prices would carry on rising and that any form of finance secured on a house was virtually risk free. In that sense the Islamic sector’s analysis

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