Shariah compliant investment vehicles take socially responsible investing (SRI) to a new level, proving that conscious investing does not necessarily depress returns. Hedge funds can turn to specialty shops that specialize in weeding out investments that violate Islamic Law. Non-accredited investors (investors with less than $1 million to invest) can also gain admission by following Shariah indexes or mutual funds.

Investing Under Islamic Law
Islamic law does not permit investors to derive benefits from interest paid on loans, the sale of pork, firearms, and other sin investments related to pornography, gambling, alcohol or tobacco. Institutions that engage in short selling and the use of leverage are also frowned upon since borrowing goes against one of the basic principles of Islamic law. Following these rules cancels out the possibility of investing in investment banking firms like Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), insurers like AIG (NYSE:AIG) and other financial service firms that use derivatives as a way to boost their profits. (To learn more, read What is an Islamic investment policy?)

Islamic Law Hedge Fund Advisor
Shariah Capital, one of the world's best Islamic financial institutions according to Global Finance Magazine, is one resource hedge fund managers turn to when developing strategies to meet the Shariah compliance needs of their clients. Islamic law scholars and attorneys work with clients to find suitable investments and devise products that attempt to mirror strategies involving short selling and the use of leverage.

Shariah Indexes for Individual Investors
Standard & Poor's (S&P) has compiled more than 20 Shariah indexes focusing on specific countries, such as Japan or emerging markets and broad categories like global infrastructure and global property. Individual investors can begin by focusing on two broad Shariah-compliant equity indexes introduced by S&P earlier this year. The S&P CNX Nifty Shariah Index and the larger S&P CNX 500 Shariah Index are both in partnership with India's National Stock Exchange. Indian outsourcer Infosys (NASDAQ:INFY) is the most familiar stock among the top three holdings on each index. The other top holdings of each include, oil conglomerates, reliance industries and India's largest engineering company Larsen & Toubro (OTC:LTOUF).

Shariah Compliant Funds
The Amana Trust Income Fund (AMANX) also helps investors take the guess work out of choosing Shariah compliant investments. The fund is almost completely void of financial service companies enabling it to outperform the Standard & Poor's 500 Index (S&P 500) by roughly 6% a year to date. The AMANX fund has a three and five year return of 11.72% and 15.78% respectively. The funds top three holdings, include United States Steel (NYSE:X), energy company FPL Group (NYSE:FPL) and natural gas company EnCana Corporation (NYSE:ECA). The Iman K Fund (IMANX) is a much smaller Shariah compliant fund with a similar focus.

Conclusion
Socially responsible investing is growing in the U.S. Investors should know the rules other cultures incorporate into their socially conscious investment decisions. In addition to the social benefit derived from choosing investments based on Islamic laws the strategy has also proved to yield positive returns for its investors.

Related Articles
  1. Investing News

    Stocks with Big Dividend Yields: 'It's a Trap!'

    Should you seek high yielding-dividend stocks in the current investment environment?
  2. Investing News

    Should You Be Betting with Buffett Right Now?

    Following Warren Buffett's stock picks has historically been a good strategy. Is considering his biggest holdings in 2016 a good idea?
  3. Products and Investments

    Cash vs. Stocks: How to Decide Which is Best

    Is it better to keep your money in cash or is a down market a good time to buy stocks at a lower cost?
  4. Investing News

    Who Does Cheap Oil Benefit? See This Stock (DG)

    Cheap oil won't benefit most companies, but this retailer might buck that trend.
  5. Investing

    How to Ballast a Portfolio with Bonds

    If January and early February performance is any guide, there’s a new normal in financial markets today: Heightened volatility.
  6. Stock Analysis

    Performance Review: Emerging Markets Equities in 2015

    Find out why emerging markets struggled in 2015 and why a half-decade long trend of poor returns is proving optimistic growth investors wrong.
  7. Investing News

    Today's Sell-off: Are We in a Margin Liquidation?

    If we're in market liquidation, is it good news or bad news? That party depends on your timeframe.
  8. Fundamental Analysis

    HF Performance Report: Did Hedge Funds Earn Their Fee in 2015?

    Find out whether hedge funds, which have come under tremendous pressure to improve their performance, managed to earn their fee in 2015.
  9. Investing News

    Bank Stocks: Time to Buy or Avoid? (WFC, JPM, C)

    Bank stocks have been pounded. Is this the right time to buy or should they be avoided?
  10. Stock Analysis

    Why the Bullish Are Turning Bearish

    Banks are reducing their targets for the S&P 500 for 2016. Here's why.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What is a derivative?

    A derivative is a contract between two or more parties whose value is based on an agreed-upon underlying financial asset, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is securitization?

    Securitization is the process of taking an illiquid asset, or group of assets, and through financial engineering, transforming ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Can hedge funds trade penny stocks?

    Hedge funds can trade penny stocks. In fact, hedge funds can trade in just about any type of security, including medium- ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Are hedge funds regulated by FINRA?

    Alternative investment vehicles such as hedge funds offer investors a wider range of possibilities due to certain exceptions ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Should mutual funds be subject to more regulation?

    Mutual funds, when compared to other types of pooled investments such as hedge funds, have very strict regulations. In fact, ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Can hedge fund returns be replicated?

    You can replicate hedge fund returns to a degree but not perfectly. Most replication strategies underperform hedge funds ... Read Full Answer >>
COMPANIES IN THIS ARTICLE
Trading Center