The UK has got the Islamic banking business cornered and the banks there are huge, unique and exact. The small bank or corner "Quick Loan Shop," has been swallowed up by the giants. Now when considering which bank is the best, you must take several things into consideration.
I could tell you which bank is the award winner for the last three to four years, but many Muslims and others seeking a no interest loan are not looking to be a number on a piece of paper. They are looking for customer service and polite, friendly service.
Bank of London and Middle East (BLME)
The BLME is the largest bank in Europe and the UK and has received numerous awards for being the best Islamic bank there. The awards they have received are:
- 2008 - Best Islamic Bank in Europe.
- 2009 - Best Islamic Leasing Provider and Best Bank in the UK.
- 2009 - Best Deals of the Year - UK.
- 2010 - Best Islamic Bank in the UK.
BLME has received these awards and now has launched a brand new Sharia compliant premier deposit program. The new program requires a minimum investment of 50,000 pounds or $79,155. For the investor interested in this new Sharia complaint deposit program, the website is the only place to obtain the information. At the time of deposit the profit rate will be discussed as it may change daily.
The CEO of BLME, Humphrey Percy adds, " The PDA expands our product offering and continues to demonstrate that BLME is an innovator of Islamic banking solutions. Excellent client services and relationship management remain a crucial value for BLME and its business approach."
Customer service is indeed important. Contacting the bank takes time and the info on the site indicates that a 5 day wait period is necessary to answer questions. However, I was contacted in two days and given a personal representative to handle any and all questions. The emails were prompt and courteous.
According to Michelle Arnold, BLME, "We do not offer a retail Sharia’a home (mortgage) product. We provide loans to high Net worth individuals and businesses for property, trade finance and lease financing requirements. All our transactions are asset backed."
HBSC Islamic Loans
In 2003, Simon Watkins, "Keeping the Faith," wrote about HSBC being new on the market. At the time Islamic loans were put on the back burner. HSBC had insight and vision of this soon to be opened market for Muslims and others. HSBC is now one of the top banks for helping Muslims with a Sharia compliant loan.
It is noted on the site in several places that HSBC is warning purchasers that they are in danger of losing their homes if they do not keep the payments current. Islamic banks normally do not foreclose on properties, but instead give zakat (charity) to the borrower in time of grief. Larger banks, however, are in the business of making money.
Islamic Bank of Britain
Another large Islamic Bank in the UK is The Islamic Bank of Britain. The bank states, "The basis for all Islamic finance lies in the principles of the Sharia, or Islamic Law, which is taken from the Quran and from the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Islamic form of finance is as old as the religion of Islam itself."
Refreshing to see a bank that realizes that all Islamic banking comes from the Quran and from the example of Prophet Mohammad. The bank goes on to quote that in Sharia finance there is a risk involved and all parties are involved in the profit and the loss.
Ahli United Bank
Ahli United Bank is another bank that has numerous awards. This bank is not strictly Islamic, but does offer a Sharia compliant loan. The bank also has the first buy-to-let program. A buy-to let is a program for investors who intend to buy property and then rent them out.
Islamic Banks Worldwide
Here is a list of Islamic banks worldwide. Not all Islamic banks are listed, but it does include many countries and many large banks to be checked for easy reference.
It is literally impossible to even begin to list the many banks available in the UK for Islamic financing and Islamic loans. The market is wide open and it is truly why America is now mimicking the UK with many banks opening their own Sharia complaint branches. To understand Islamic loans, the borrower must first talk to a loan agent and get all the details on the programs they are offering.
Photo courtesy of Photobucket: aliceandayub