Sharia-complaint finance for ethical investors

by Shazia Hussain

Sharia-compliant finance operates within the Islamic finance financial model. What this means is that any financial product or service must adhere to Islamic rules relating to financial transactions.

The increasing popularity of Sharia-compliant finance is being driven by the growth in the global Islamic finance industry. However, many businesses and individuals are looking to Sharia-compliant finance to provide them with ethically based options and solutions. Ethical investors and the growing trend for socially responsible investing means Sharia compliant services are aligning with the values of many people across the world.


Sharia-compliant finance must have the following qualities:
  • Aligns with Islamic values
  • Prohibition on interest/riba
  • Ethics and morality screening
  • Social responsibility
  • Risk management
  • Profit and loss sharing
  • Ongoing monitoring and compliance
  • Asset backed finance
  • Avoiding speculation and ambiguity

Sharia-compliant finance is a great draw for ethical investors in the market looking to invest their money in ethical enterprises that promote individual inclusion and diversity. By providing equitable access to financial services, Sharia-compliant finance serves underprivileged communities who may not previously had access to products and services.

The focus on building inclusion and equity through transparency, information, and sharing of profits enables Sharia-compliant finance to promote inclusion.

There are several ways in which Sharia-compliant finance promotes inclusion.
  • Prohibition of interest: the charging or receiving of interest is seen in Islam as an exploitative practice that is unjust and unfair.
  • Avoiding speculation: keeping transactions transparent and equal makes them more inclusive.
  • Ethical investment screening: screening for industries such as gambling and alcohol means that more focus is placed on environmental, social, and corporate governance.
  • Asset backed finance: having transactions backed by assets leads to more clarity and equity between all parties.
  • Risk sharing: this leads to greater inclusion as it removes the respective power of each party when coming into the financial deal. It also means that payments owing to the parties are fair and proportionate.
  • Socially responsible investing: the onus on being socially responsible when investing or managing a portfolio places a responsibility on the investor to be conscious of working with marginalised groups.
  • Sustainability: having a future focus on long term goals is a key element of Islamic finance.
  • Fairness in contracts: Islamic finance emphasises the importance of having fair contracts and contract terms. Parties to a contract should act with integrity, honesty, and mutual consent.

Islamic finance recognises the importance of supporting small and medium businesses. Investment in these sectors and industries is encouraged.

Sharia-compliant finance understands that microfinance for small businesses is imperative for growth and sustainability. Often, small businesses can struggle to secure funding and capital. Islamic microfinance offers SMEs a lifeline with Sharia compliant finance solutions that are tailored to the business needs.

For investors, it means they can invest ethically, enabling entrepreneurs to access capital for business growth.


Risk and profit sharing is a key element of Islamic finance. What it means in principle is that partnership models such as Mudarabah and Musharakah are encouraged.

These partnerships enable entrepreneurs and financiers to agree on the terms of any profit sharing in a fair and transparent way.


Islamic finance encourages community development initiatives through mechanisms that align with Islam. The central principles of social responsibility and ethical investing mean that investors are required to act in a philanthropic way for the greater good of society. The outcome is that society benefits from the actions of the individual.

Sharia-compliant investments are directed towards the type of fund and project that positively impacts society. Investors looking for Sharia compliant investors prioritise investments in sectors that require funding such as healthcare, education, renewable energy, housing, and poverty alleviation.

These sectors have seen huge growth in recent years, so investing in them is often a win for the socially conscious investor and the initiative.


Sharia compliant finance has demonstrated resilience and stability in volatile markets. This is due to its core principles of risk sharing, asset backed finance, and avoiding interest. Ethical investors are not looking for a quick and easy return, instead they want to invest in a stable and ethical sector.

As changes in interest rates affected the global markets in recent years, the Islamic finance investment market remained relatively stable as it is not dependent on interest backed lending or borrowing.

The value of the assets the finance is backed against provides some stability when the market becomes unpredictable.


Islam encourages a long term approach when it comes to investments. The focus is not on immediate profits, but long term sustainability and societal benefit. The principles of sabr (patience) and fairness in Islam mean that ethical investors investing using a Sharia-compliant framework are not always looking for an immediate return on investment. The aim is long term benefits and stable returns. 

As the Islamic finance industry continues to grow, so too do the Sharia compliant finance options. Ethical investors from all backgrounds are pushing the drive for ethical and socially responsible investments.

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