In the latest sign of the times, the Bombay Stock Exchange is offering a new index of Indian stocks from companies whose practices comply with Sharia, the legal code of Islam. The BSE TASIS Sharia 50 index is based on guidelines of an Indian Sharia advisory board and includes the 50 largest and most liquid Sharia-compliant stocks of the Bombay exchange, reports the Wall Street Journal. Finding Sharia-compliant stocks can be tricky. Islamic law doesn’t permit Muslims to invest in companies that derive significant benefits from interest, or from the sale of goods such as alcohol, tobacco and weapons.
The exchange hopes to cash in big time on India's 175 million potential investors who are Muslim, even though the idea of "Sharia investing" is just getting off the ground. Until now almost 50% of the community's population has been left out of the formal financial sector, according to a report. Some 60% of the population is under 25, and could soon turn to the financial market to make their fortunes.