In the substantial literature about European Islam there is a puzzling lacuna: Islamic banking and finance (IBF). For instance, in a recent authoritative book about the public controversies about Islam there was no mention of the issue (Göle 2013), while a recent, thorough review article about research on Islam in the West also ignored the topic (Voas and Fleischmann 2012). There are good reasons to believe that IBF will turn out to be a defining feature of the Europeanization of Islam at the start of the 21st century. In 2013 British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that London would become the world’s capital of Islamic finance. Most adult Muslims in Europe are aware of the 1999 fatwa of the European Council on Research and Fatwa, which tells Muslims to build their own financial institutions and to avoid taking loans with interest, if possible. Our preliminary research in Norway indicates that over 50% of Muslims in this part of the world are very concerned about the issue. On the most general level, the proposed research will do two things: it will collect large amounts of unique data about an important but underresearched topic and the data will be analysed to provide a new understanding of Islam in the West in the 21st century.
- How great is demand for IBF in the Nordic countries and what are the social, economic and demographic correlates of such demand?
- What are the reasons why some Muslims want IBF?
- What can ideas and norms about IBF tell us about religious authority among Muslims in the Nordic countries?
- What is the effect IBF on inclusion and exclusion?
- How do financial regulatory authorities relate to IBF and how do Islamic organizations relate to financial regulatory authorities?