Via moneyhighstreet.com, March 16 2008:

There is nothing to stop anyone from opting for an Islamic mortgage if they feel it is the best product available to them, an industry expert has said.

Emile Abu-Shakra, media relations manager at Lloyds TSB, explained that the popularity of Islamic financial products had increased in recent years.

He said that available Islamic financial products meet Muslim rules but could be used by anyone who felt they were appropriate.

“These products are designed with Muslims in mind and are designed to meet the needs of Islamic principles but there is absolutely nothing to stop anybody else taking an Islamic mortgage or Islamic current account,” Mr Abu-Shakra added.

“I don’t think there will be an effort to encourage others to take them out – the fact is that they are designed for a particular market but anyone who thinks they [Islamic mortgages] fulfil their needs can have them.”

Late in 2007, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) said that it was looking at ways to encourage the availability of Islamic financial products, including Ijara mortgages.

It explained that consumers opting for these Islamic mortgages now had the same level of protection as people using traditional home loans.

It’s a good idea for Mr. Emile Abu-Shakra to point this out. There are certain elements of society in Europe and North America who complain about the introduction of any kind of Islamic service, particularly when it falls outside the scope of simple religious services. They see it as special treatment. So it’s good to remind people that new Islamic services such as Islamic mortgages are available to anyone and are actually a form of relief from the burden of interest. In other words, it’s a good deal for anyone, Muslim or not.

In fact I have read that in the UK many Sikhs take advantage of Islamic mortgage plans. They see traditional interest-based loans as oppressive, so they consider Islamic mortgages to be a good option.