The Role of Islamic Finance in Tackling Financial Exclusion in the UK.

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Abstract The role of Islamic finance in tackling financial exclusion in the UK As the fundamental principles of Islamic finance are socio-economic justice and benevolence (Al-Adle Wal-ihsan), some commentators have raised serious questions about the social benefits that Islamic banks have brought to those on low incomes. This research involves an empirical study looking at the financial exclusion of less affluent UK Muslims before and since Shari?a compliant finance was introduced. The impact of the introduction of Islamic banking in enhancing the financial inclusion level of low income Muslims is assessed. The main findings of the research are that the majority of UK Muslims are financially excluded due to the absence of banking products that would meet their needs and would also comply with Shari?a. The research also found that although UK Muslims have a preference for Shari?a compliant finance, the Shari?a compliant financial products currently on offer did not significantly enhance their financial inclusiveness. According to the research findings, the main reasons for the low take-up of the existing Shari?a compliant financial products relate to the strong skepticism about the authenticity of such products. Similarly, affordability, acceptability and accessibility of these products remained a real cause for concern for most of the less affluent UK Muslims. The research concluded that the providers of Shari?a compliant finance need to redesign their current provision to make it more relevant to the financial services needs of the less affluent UK Muslim communities. The research further suggested that Islamic micro-financing schemes should be set up by mainstream financial institutions to cater for the financial services needs of the less affluent UK Muslims. Strong coordination between governmental institutions tackling financial exclusion, providers of Shari?a compliant financial products and local community developmental organizations was also recommended.

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