Foreign Policy Blogs

Islamic Finance, Muslim Philanthropy

Two articles have been sitting on my desk for weeks now and I’ve spent a number of afternoons mulling over what to write about them.  The first Doing God’s Work from the Wall Street Journal takes another look at the success of Islamic finance funds and ask how well they are fairing & whether they are able to 1) make a  profit and 2) stick to the rules of Islam.  The second, from the Case Foundation, explores the creation of a Palestine Venture Fund which promotes stability, in a private-sector/economic way, to a region where diplomacy and security have not been successful.

My goal was to work up something clever to say, cast some insightful notion about these pieces or draw a larger conclusion.  Yet, while my gut is telling me there is something very interesting here, my head has refused to find its meaning.

Since I usually beat on the drum that “there is more than the Western way”, I will apply that rhythm here as well.  Looking through the program of the recent World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists and thinking about the launch of a World Zakat Fund, I see another option unfolding before our eyes.  It may not look so different from what we already know – contribute money, invest money, and apply towards creating social good – but the underlying cultural elements of how these things work may expand our norms.

I’m interested to see from where the funding comes, how it is disbursed, and what cultural implications occur.  For me, this area is less about foreign policy and more about another vehicle/theory for giving.   For others, I can already anticipate the debate.

If you have good resources to share on the topic, please do drop me a line.  The clever insight and larger conclusion for this post is TBD.