By Amalia Rehman
Muslim Link Staff Writer
Devon Bank is located out of Chicago, Illinois and has been serving their communities since 1945. Devon Bank prides itself on being a community based bank that tries to tailor each account to the needs of their clients.
Seven years ago, according to an article in USA Today, published in March of 2008, a man walked into a Devon Bank branch office and asked for a business loan, but he did not want to pay interest, at the time, there was no such loan and he was turned away. But Devon Bank began to recognize that there existed a market among the large community of Pakistani and Middle Eastern Muslims. Subsequently, they developed loans which they designate as “faith based loans”. On their website is a page devoted to Sharia compliant loans and the heading alternates between four different languages.
Devon Bank now offers these “faith based loans” in 31 states. On their website, they state, “Our products are created to meet your needs by a staff versed in both U.S. and Islamic legal requirements, and then submitted to appropriate government regulators and Shariah scholars. We do not use conventional documentation with cover letters and we avoid the uncertainty of documents that do not properly reflect the Shariah requirements.” Devon Bank also employs staff members that speak 32 different languages in order to meet the needs of there clients.
It is interesting to note that over 75% of the Devon bank’s mortgage portfolio is from Islamic financing, according to the USA Today article. Worldwide, Islamic financing is a $700 billion business and Devon Bank seems to clearly recognize the potential.
Perhaps what is most interesting is the fact that Devon Bank offers a variety of commercial loans that are Sharia compliant. Once Devon Bank attains licensure from the Commission of Financial Regulation in Maryland, customers can go to Devon Bank not only for home loans, but for business loans.
Home loans include loans for buying a home, refinancing a home, real estate backed lines of credit, and construction financing. For commercial loans, Devon Bank will offer commercial real estate purchasing loans, real estate backed lines of credit for business operations, commercial construction financing and business and trade loans.
Sarah Bloom Raskin, Commissioner of the Financial Regulations department in Maryland has been “…very accommodating… She seemed very interested in the Islamic financing alternative to the mortgage debacle we are presently experiencing. She promised, in a meeting about two weeks ago, that she would do whatever she could to process licensure for Devon Bank to operate in Maryland,” stated Muhammad Abdul-Hamiyd, a Baltimore activist. Brother Muhammad was approached by Devon Bank for help on this issue since he had been instrumental in working for Halal certification laws in the state of Maryland. Brother Muhammad states that, “My interest is to help develop the Muslim community. I don’t get paid for this type of work. I do it with no affiliation except to my Muslim brothers and sisters.”
“David Loundy, Vice President of Devon Bank and one of the co-owners, stated that he anticipates the commercial loan product will be available in Maryland within thirty days and the residential loan products will be available in about two to three months.” stated Brother Muhammad.
Brother Muhammad stated that he hopes, inshaAllah, that the availability of Sharia compliant commercial loans will help to revitalize the Muslim economy.
“The Muslim plight here in America is education and economics. The Islamic economics program is established on the pillar of Zakat. Since we have not established that properly, we have economic dysfunction,” said Brother Muhammad.