The Role of Islamic Finance in Economic Stability and Social Justice

One of the most distinguishing times for the US Islamic home financing industry began in February 2007. The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) sent out a press release announcing that it would no longer buy the most risky subprime mortgages and mortgage backed securities. Two months after the announcement, a leading subprime mortgage lender filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Three months after that bankruptcy filing, nationwide financing entities warned of "difficult conditions" ahead. Manifestations of such difficult conditions appeared on the horizon of the financial market when once well-established mortgage companies suddenly began to file for Chapter 11. Similar circumstances reached the UK as the Bank of England cleared an authorization to provide liquidity support to Northern Rock, the The country's fifth largest mortgage lender. Five months later, Treasury of the United Kingdom became the owner of Northern Rock.

Up until that point, the gravity of these "difficult conditions" was not fully understood by most of the populace. Late in 2008, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was authorized to lend $ 85 billion to the AIG. This was the beginning of the most serious recession in the United States since the Great Depression. What followed was a chain reaction that led to an unprecedented global financial crisis, as the world suffered from rising unemployment, rampant foreclosures, and severe skepticism of financial instruments.

This led to a renewed spotlight on an unfamiliar market segment that appeared comparatively more stable and, more importantly, far more ethical: the Islamic financing sector. From the financial centers in Malaysia to the Middle East, spanning across over seventy countries, Islamic finance in the US increased from $ 5 billion in the 1980s to $ 1 trillion in 2010. This phenomenal growth caught the attention of global investors who were seeking to safeguard their investments through more ethical and reliable financial instruments. When financial sector workers realized that these Shariah-compliant instruments avoided many of the worst effects of the global financial crisis, it became an attractive investment vehicle to support a more diverse portfolio. The Shariah-compliant financial sector has avoided investment in predatory lending businesses and overly leveraged financial instruments due to the strict ethical nature of the Shariah governance system. News and media outlets started to cover this ancient yet unfamiliar industry in hopes of learning from the mistakes of the conventional banking sector.

The concept of the modern Islamic financial services industry is rooted in the principles of Islamic legal jurisprudence that deals with financial transactions, a branch of Islamic jurisprudence called Fiqh Al Muamalat. Fiqh Al Muamalat is a framework under Islamic Law that charts the conduct of Muslims in commercial or economic endeavors. Islamic finance products and rulings are based on specific injunctions from the Quran that prohibit certain features of financial transaction models and related economic activities.

The Quran forbids interest, also called usury or riba. The underlying reasoning is that Islam considers lending to be a charitable act to help another member of the society in …

Importance of Financial Stability Ratios

Common ratios to judge the financial stability of a business concern are gearing ratio, current ratio and liquid ratio. Gearing ratio shows the extent of a firm's reliance on debt to fund its activities. As the proportion of debt climbs (especially if it exceeds 65 percent of total funds for most businesses), the greater the risk of financial distress. This is the downside of financial leverage – It increases the financial risk.

Current ratio measures the number of times the current assets of a firm cover its current liabilities. This is a measure of solvency: the capacity of a firm to pay its debts through the normal cash cycle, selling inventory on credit, collecting debts and paying creditors. This ratio must normally exceed 1: 1 and should be closer to 2: 1. It should also be noted that an excess of current assets will result in poor asset utilization.

Liquid or quick ratio is a more tighter measure of short term financial stability. It measures the firms ability to pay its current liabilities from its liquid assets. Liquid assets are cash or near cash resources. In practice liquid assets include cash, bank, short term securities and accounts receivable, the assets that be readily converted into cash to meet immediate calls for payment from lenders and suppliers.

Accounts receivables are normally included in liquid assets, as they may be sold to a finance company at a discount for later collection from debtors. This is called debt factoring. Debt factoring is not common in all the countries. Debt factoring is used as a means of managing the cash flow from operations, rather than trying entity's funds up in accounts receivable. In arriving at liquid assets, the principle exclusion from current assets is inventory. As this may take some months to sell – and then often to credit customers – it can be many months before cash is collected from inventory. Among the current liabilities may be some debts that may not be due for many months. These may be excluded in calculating the liquid ratio. Examples include tax payable and a current portion of long term debt, both of which may not be due for some months. However, such adjustments should only be made if the repayment dates are known and are over six months later than balance sheet date.

One common (but risky) adjustment in calculating the liquid ratio is to exclude bank overdraft from current liabilities. This is not recommended. When a liquid ratio declines towards (or below) the 1: 1 level (including overdraft), this is most likely time that the bank will require repayment – on demand. Hence, an overdraft should only be left out of this calculation when the firm is perfectly liquid – When it does not matter anyway!

As these ratios are based on the statement of financial position, they represent only a 'snapshot' of the financial stability of the business, taken at one point in time. These ratios can be manipulated by referring payments or …