Providing financial services to members of the Islamic faith requires sensitivity to both religious and social mores.
In response, the World Council of Credit Unions has issued what it believes to be the first guide to financial services that are Shariah-compliant and adhere to requirements set forth in the Quran.
The 305-page guide, produced in conjunction with the Customer Owned Banking Association, WOCCU’s member organization in Australia, is based on experiences WOCCU gleaned from establishing credit unions in Afghanistan, called Islamic investment and finance cooperatives, during the international trade group’s development project there from 2004-2012.
The document is available for download online.
Content includes chapters on membership, shares and savings mobilization, Shariah-compliant financing and collection, provisions and allowances for bad debts, asset and liability management, capitalization and capital adequacy, accounting, cash operations, internal controls, human resources, procurement and information technology and security.
The comprehensive guide also details operating policies and procedures based on international standards for financial cooperatives and adapted to comply with Islamic law.
"The Islamic Finance Manual is a product of years of dedication and cooperation among World Council staff and local Afghan leaders to adapt World Council's traditional credit union building model to an Islamic banking environment," said Brian Branch, WOCCU president/CEO. "The manual now provides a cornerstone for local credit union development in countries as diverse as Libya and Pakistan to Australia and the United States."
Islamic finance is a form of ethical financing, defined by the fair distribution of wealth, concern for the welfare of communities and economic stability. Islamic finance principles promote the protection of consumer rights and prevent investment in businesses that are considered harmful, including gambling, armaments, alcohol and pornography. Islamic financial markets operate in 37 Muslim countries, and many non-Muslim countries in Europe offer Islamic finance options.
Several credit unions in the United States serve specifically Muslim membership as well.