Last month, German bank WestLB rolled out a new “Islam-compliant” investment product named the Islamic Strategy Index Certificate. The value of the certificate is based on the value of the WestLB Islamic Deutschland Index, consisting of shares of ten German firms “whose business activities are consistent with the ethical rules of Islam.” The WestLB product prospectus explains that the Islamic Strategy Index Certificates “are certified by the Central Council of Muslims in Germany as Islam-compliant [Islam konformes] investment.” The Central Council of Muslims in Germany is an umbrella group of twenty-two Muslim organizations.
The prospectus goes on to explain that “for the selection [of stocks] it is in principle not permitted that the business activity of the chosen firms involve interest-bearing financial services or derivatives, insurance, alcohol, tobacco, pork, armaments, gambling, gold and silver hedging transactions, or the entertainment industry.” The firms making up the Islamic Deutschland Index are some of the biggest names in German industry, including the sporting goods manufacturer Adidas, the engineering group Siemens, the software maker SAP, the chemical giant BASF, the pharmaceutical company Bayer, and the energy companies E.ON and RWE. Deutsche Post, of which the German state remains the principal shareholder, also forms part of the index. In addition to providing postal services in Germany, Deutsche Post is the parent company of the international package sender DHL.