Bank of Kuwait and Middle East (BKME) is undergoing a change to become fully Shariah-compliant.
The bank’s chairman Hamad Al Marzouq says that the bank will formally go Shariah-compliant starting from the second quarter of 2010 and that to signify the transformation to Shariah compliance BKME will be renamed as Al Ahli Al Muttahad.
BKME has origins going all the way back to 1941 and is generally regarded as Kuwait’s first bank. It managed to do just fine without being Shariah-compliant for over 60 years, but now is making the switch. This illustrates the influence of Islamist elements in Kuwaiti society and especially in its financial sector. This is a theme that is being played out throughout the Islamic world and it is now spilling over to the West.
For decades, no one worried about whether a bank or investment was Shariah-compliant. Now this phenomenon is spreading. It isn’t just happening in Islamic nations such as Kuwait. Shariah Finance is being pushed in Europe, North America and throughout Asia and parts of the Pacific Rim.
Because the stated purpose of Shariah-Compliant Finance is to spread Shariah and Islam. This is simply missionary work–dawah–and it isn’t just about “interest-free” mortgages, savings accounts and bonds.