Now, Shariah-compliant MasterCard for Muslims

Last Updated: Sat, Oct 13, 2012 17:52 hrs

London, Oct 13 (IANS) A compass pointing the way to Mecca is embedded in a new MasterCard aimed at Muslims, the Daily Mail reported Saturday.

Al Hillal bank in the United Arab Emirates has rolled out the new bank card which complies with Islamic laws banning charging interest on loans in a bid to appeal to the world's 1.6 billion Muslims.

Islamic law or Shariah forbids "riba", the charging of interest on loans, because it enables the rich to exploit the poor, creates social and economic tension and encourages risk, according to scholars.

Cardholders have access to travel vouchers to pay for the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca, which Muslims are required to do at least once in their lifetime if they have the means.

The Islamic banking industry is huge with more than 500 Shariah-compliant funds internationally holding $1.5 trillion in assets, up two-thirds since the industry launched seven years ago according to the Gulf Daily News.

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