As credit markets have imploded, triggering a global economic crisis, Islamically correct investors have seen a change of fortune: The conservative principles this small group of devout Muslims clung to during the economic heyday has insulated them from the worst of the past year's suffering.
Their renunciation of the interest-based economy kept them away from investments in financial services companies, whose stocks have collapsed, and out of traditional mortgages.
"There was a time two or three years ago that Islamic finance was considered simply too conservative," said Professor Ibrahim Warde, author of "Islamic Finance in the Global Economy" and an adjunct professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. "Right now, many people are recognizing that maybe it wasn't such a bad thing."
Dow Jones Islamic Market Indexes, which represent benchmarks for Islamically correct investment categories, have been outperforming their non-Islamically compliant counterparts by 3 to 4 percent in key indexes. The two Amana Income and Growth funds, the largest Islamic mutual funds in the country with $1.2 billion in combined assets, have been outperforming the S&P 500 in the past year by 13 and 7 percent, respectively. (Both Amana funds also outperform the S&P index on 5- and 10-year comparisons.)
Bay Area residents who bought homes through an Islamically compliant lender in San Jose, the Ameen Housing Cooperative, don't have to worry whether their lender will work with them if they lose their jobs. Islamic lenders are required to work in good faith with distressed borrowers to figure out ways to make payments manageable - and co-op leaders say they will. (Full Story)