Britain has long been an important Western centre for Islamic finance, and specialist providers have been offering Sharia-compliant financial products here for around 30 years. But now this niche section of banking has seen an upsurge in popularity – and not just among Muslims. So how does it work and could it be the right choice for even more UK customers?
Islamic financial products conform to the ethics laid out by Muslim teachings. It's possible to find Islamic savings accounts, investments, mortgages and insurance policies, and last year the Government even committed to developing a Sharia-compliant student loan. It sounds as if such products would be fairly niche, yet more savers than ever are turning to Islamic accounts.
Tim Sinclair is head of marketing and retail sales at Al Rayan Bank, formerly known as the Islamic Bank of Britain. He says that business has taken off in the past 18 months; last year the bank posted a profit for the first time and its operating income rocketed by 168 per cent. A large part of this growth was driven by non-Muslims.