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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 December 2006, 17:33 GMT
Non-Muslims snap up Islamic accounts
By Julian Knight
Personal finance reporter, BBC News

Emma Dellaway
Emma is interested in the middle east and all things ethical
Emma Dellaway, 25, from south London, likes to know that the money sitting in her current account is not doing harm.

"I don't have much money, as I am just starting out on my career, but what I do have should not be used unethically," she says.

"I hate to think of arms going to some African country funded, however indirectly, from my account."

Ms Dellaway took an unusual step to follow through her ethical beliefs.

She opened an Islamic current account.

Global phenomenon

Ms Dellaway is not alone in equating Islamic finance with ethical living.

"Branches are reporting interest from all communities," says Paul Sherrin, head of Islamic Finance at Lloyds TSB, which allong with HSBC and Islamic Bank of Britain offers Sharia compliant accounts.

Perhaps, though, if I had lots of money I would look at it differently and want interest
Emma Dellaway

"There is an international precedent for this. In Malaysia up to 25% of Islamic accounts are opened by non-Muslims.

"This is happening on a smaller scale over here, a number of non-Muslims are keen that the account doesn't get involved in interest or anything they perceive as unethical."

Ethical elements

Islamic accounts comply with Sharia law.

Under Sharia Islamic law, making money from money, such as charging interest, is usury and therefore not permitted.

All money must be invested in industries Muslims consider ethical
The giving or receiving of interest is forbidden
Money cannot be simply traded for money
Money can be used to buy goods or services, which can then be sold for a profit

Wealth should be generated only through legitimate trade and investment in assets.

But what really appeals to Ms Dellaway are the other aspects of Islamic banking.

"I have a guarantee that my money will not be used to invest in arms or tobacco," she says.

Sharia law also forbids investment in alcohol, gambling and pornography.

Islamic interest

Ms Dellaway has always been interested in the Middle East. She has spent time in Libya, studied politics at university and has friends from all faiths.

The reaction amongst Ms Dellaway's friends and family to her decision seems to bear this out.

"They have been really interested in what I have done. They ask lots of questions and can see how closely ethical finance and the Islamic financial models fit together," Ms Dellaway says.

"When I went into my branch and told them I was keen on opening an Islamic current account, the staff member was unsurprised.

"I thought that perhaps I would be looked at as a bit of a lunatic but not a bit of it."

The fact that Islamic bank accounts do not pay interest is not a problem to Ms Dellaway.

"I see giving up interest the same as recycling, visiting a farmers market or using the Red American Express card.

"Perhaps, though, if I had lots of money I would look at it differently and want interest."

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29 Jun 05 |  Business

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