Purpose – This paper aims at retracing changing attitudes toward Islamic financial products in international markets over the past three decades, thereby providing an account of their “unexpected” expansion outside of the Muslim world. Design/methodology/approach – This conceptual paper builds on an archival research – 969 news articles published in the UK from 1985 to 2014. Although emphasis is put on the decade of fast changing attitudes toward Islamic finance (IF) in global markets (2001-2011), the years prior to (1985-2000) and following (2012-2014) the target period are also investigated. Findings – Starting as an obscure set of practices often associated with religious fundamentalism before the mid-1990s, IF had become a “mainstream” alternative by the turn of the century. A second interpretive break then emerged with the advent of the subprime crisis in 2007-2008, which increasingly conferred to IF an ethical component. Interestingly, both narratives still exist concurrently in the media, even in post-crisis discussions. Social implications – The discussion in this paper allows us to explain the findings of the most recent surveys on this topic, which put forward the complex, and sometimes even contradictory, understandings of what IF stands for in global markets. Originality/value – This is the first archival research on the topic of IF in international markets. Besides bringing to the discussion an interesting historical perspective, it also draws attention to the growing importance of Islam-based financial products in traditionally secular markets.
Journal of Islamic Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 7, 2016