iHilal.com targets Muslim investors

iHilal offers online trading of Islamically-approved equities; says liquidity management accounts, insurance, mortgages and pensions products to come soon.

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By  David Ingham Published  May 17, 2001

iHilal.com has joined the ranks of e-finance offerings aimed at Muslims that want to invest according to the Shari’ah. The site allows investors to purchase Islamic mutual funds and approved equities online.

The e-finance portal received its seed capital from Accenture Technology Ventures and Rasmala Private Equity Group. The company is headed by Ramzi Abu Khadra, CEO.

“Investors throughout the Muslim world want credible financial products and services that comply with the teachings of Islam,” says Ramzi Abu Khadra. “Now, for the first time, Muslim retail investors have the ability to invest online in over 1,000 Islamically screened stocks (US, Canada and foreign companies), traded on US markets, as well as Shari’ah compliant mutual funds.”

Investors based in the UK can buy mutual funds, with equities coming soon.

Islamic investing requires that money should only be put into companies that meet certain debt/asset ratios and that only operate in permitted sectors. All wealth creation should result from what is viewed as a partnership between the investor and the user of capital.

Around US $175 billion is currently invested globally in Islamic financial products. The sector is growing at around 15% annually, according to the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance.

Two international Shari’ah advisors – Sheikh Nizam Yaqoobi and Sheikh Yusuf Talal DeLorenzo – act as iHilal.com’s advisors. Both scholars are members of the Dow Jones Islamic Market Index Shari’ah Advisory Board. iHilal.com has also entered into a licensing agreement with Dow Jones Indexes to create a filter based on the Dow Jones Islamic Market Index screening process.

Ihilal offers offshore and UK Islamic mutual funds from providers such as SAMBA, ORBITEX and National Commercial Bank (NCB.) iHilal says other Islamic products are under development, including liquidity management accounts, insurance, mortgages and pensions.

iHilal is regulated as a broker dealer in the United States by the National Association of Securities Dealers. In the United Kingdom iHilal is regulated by the Personal Investment Authority and offshore by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission.

Rasmala Islamic Finance Ltd., one of iHilal.com’s backers, is a subsidiary of the Rasmala Private Equity Group. Its ownership consortium includes Deutsche Bank, SAMBA, the Arabian General Investment Company (AGICO), and several institutional and individual investors from KSA.

“We believe that iHilal has a solid business model, valuable marketing alliances, a unique infrastructure with both Shari’ah and regulatory compliance, as well as the technology and customer care that will make this business succeed,” said Ali Samir Al Shihabi, Rasmala managing partner and iHilal chairman.

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