Islamic and Christian Finance
Christian Faith based finance represents a smaller share of global financial assets than Islamic finance which itself only represents around 1% of total global assets.
International advisory firm Grant Thornton through its UAE office released a note outlining the shared heritage of Islamic and Christian Finance.
Author Samer Hijazi, the Head of Islamic Finance for Grant Thornton in the United Arab Emirates highlighted a number of Christian faith based banks in Europe including Reliance Bank which was founded by the Salvation Army in 1890. The bank is dedicated to ethical banking and uses its profits to support the Salvation Army’s evangelical and charitable work, and caps staff bonuses at GBP 2,000.
Other institutions include Kingdom Bank in the United Kingdom, Pax Bank and Liga Bank in Germany, the Catholic Family Federal Credit Union and Holy Rosary Credit Union in the United States and the Institute for the Works of Religion in Italy (more commonly known as the Vatican Bank).
Samer Hijazi added, as far back as 325 AD, the First Council of Nicaea forbade all clergy from practising usury. In doing so, it quoted Psalm 15:5 from the Bible: “He does not put out his money at interest, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.” And that was just the start, the Third Council of the Lateran in 1179 excommunicated those engaged in usury while Pope clement V made the belief in the right to usury a heresy in 1311. Usury was thus deemed to be a sin of the most extreme nature in most of Europe for more than a thousand years.
It was thus for no small reason that Dante, in his 14th-century epic poem, Divine Comedy, chose to place in the Seventh Circle of Hell, murderers, blasphemers and wicked usurers. Dante puts the usurers in the lowest sub-circle of the seventh circle of hell, with others whose sins are regarded as doing violence against nature and nature’s God; many people have noted that usurers are placed deeper into hell than violent murderers, violent suicides, blasphemers, and sodomites
Moving to modern times interest based lending started to make a comeback in the 17th century driven by the Protestant Reformation and the Industrial Revolution.