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Introducing the Islamic Finance Chatbot: Financial Education in 100 Languages

I am glad to announce the launch of the Islamic Finance Chatbot, a ChatGPT 4 tool trained on my German book, "Islam, Money and Prosperity," this chatbot answers questions on the content of Islamic wealth management in over 100 languages.

No longer non-German speakers need to wait to access the content. With support for over 100 languages, individuals from diverse backgrounds can gain Islamic personal finance education by Q&A in their preferred language. This inclusivity promotes financial literacy and empowers users to make informed decisions aligned with their values and goals. At this stage of development it is already a new world for financial education.

I am committed to serving the community and making knowledge accessible to all. That's why the Islamic Finance Chatbot is available free of charge until further notice. We value user feedback and encourage individuals to provide their insights and submit additional questions to enhance the chatbot's knowledge and capabilities. Interested sponsors are welcome. Likewise international publishers interested to translate the book itself and publish it in their country.

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Talk on Islamic finance, money, and banking crisis in Zurich and online

As salamu Alaikum,
Next saturday, May 13, 2023, at 15.00 I present as guest of Muslim Student Association in Zurich (@msazurich) on the 1st chapter of my book and then go into the banking crisis and money creation. The talk is in English.

???? Samstag, 13. Mai 2023
? 15:00 - 17:00
???? Building KAB, floor G, room 01
????? Kantonsschulstrasse 3, 8001 Zürich

Physical attendance - registration linked at @msazurich and in my link tree in Insta profile. (just confirm lengthy privacy in German).
Talk online accessible without registration: Click on - presentation on bigbluebutton/senfcall similar to zoom - no installation required or instagram @islamgeldwohlstand

My German book "Islam, Geld und Wohlstand - Ein Handbuch über Finanzen und Vorsorge" can be obtained:
DE: @islambooks24
or any other bookstore or online dealer in German speaking countries - if you are publisher interested for your country, please contact me.

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Successful defense of master these on carbon reduction in Islamic ETF

On behalf of the entire Islamic finance community, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to you, Yousra Baddour, on the successful completion of your Master Thesis, "SHARIAH COMPLIANT ETF WITH CLIMATE RISK MITIGATION." It is no small feat to undertake and complete a research project of this magnitude, and you have done so with great diligence, dedication, and intelligence. Thanks to Professor Thomas Cho for inviting me as expert to the oral defense.

Your thesis is groundbreaking as it demonstrates that a portfolio can be decarbonized to a large degree with minor tracking error, and this is of particular importance in Islamic portfolio management, where the carbon emitting sector is much higher weighted after Islamic screens than in conventional peers. Your findings bring to light a known problem in Islamic portfolio management and offer a solution to mitigate the climate risk.

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Inhaltsverzeichnis - Table of Content

in German

Liebe Leser,

hier das Inhaltsverzeichnis meines Buches - ab Februar inshallah bestellbar!


Michael Gassner

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Islamic equity screening and Zakat calculation

Mark your calendar: You can join the meeting on Saturday, 6th February 2021, 15:00 CET

How far we get if we aim to screen stocks ourselves at home for Sharia compliance? Via MS Team meeting I present basic considerations of the screening criteria and Zakat issues, and then show with shared screen how it could be done in Google Sheets with a DIY attitude. This lecture was intended for German Muslim stock market investors in mind, who wished to understand, what commercial screening tools ruled out for them. And the overall work is part of a book project on Islamic finance for consumers.

In regard to Zakat - a full analysis would go to far - two approaches are taken, which are the most prevalent. By all means seek the advice of your school of thought and trusted scholar.

The commercial providers will be named, too. Surely more convenient. Nevertheless going through a Google Sheet once step by step is a good exercise for getting comfortable with the criteria and methods as such.

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55%-83% of Retail Investors in CFDs loosing money as disclosed by the financial providers

Dear Reader,

Following up on my earlier post on CFD and wether those are halal and why not: here a follow up with some disclosed data. The regulators asking CFD provider to disclose how many retail investor loose money. The exact rules and definitions you find here:

In a quick web search for "of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs" that number is between 55.2% and 83%:

55.2% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with Blackwell Global Investments (UK) Limited.

83% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

79% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

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Fintech and Islamic finance: Blockchain’s Proof of Work vs Proof of Stake

Finally, the long-awaited book on Fintech in Islamic Finance, which I am honored to have contributed is ready for delivery:

In my contribution I looked at how the underlying economics of increasing returns and zero marginal costs impact business models, with then causing challenges on the legal and Islamic legal side for instance regarding smart contracts and artificial intelligence. Fintech opens to contribute to Islamic finance, as it allows to disrupt debt driven financing towards equity, if guided in the right direction. Jonathan Lawrence of KL Gates in charge for Fintech and Islamic finance at his law firm was my co-author.

BTW: If any reader knows about blockchain solutions for financial inclusion, especially for the Muslim world, please point me in the right direction. I would love to see this discussed on the next Global Donors Forum 2020 in Geneva, which is the biannual convention of Muslim Philanthropists.

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Turkish Lira

Dear Readers,

The dramatic fall of the Turkish lira leads to a lot of coverage in the international media. What are the underlying economic drivers of this fall in value?

All economies are suffering from too much debt on sovereign, corporate and consumer level due to the promotion of debt finance, by basle regulation and faulty tax incentives.

But: Turkey is special because its consumers are highly indebted buying a lot of consumerware on credit, and the corporates borrowed short term in foreign currencies way too much. The first contributes to a trade deficit and the second to vulnerability when the currency exchange rate of the Lira is dropping.

The corporate borrowing, is funded by so-called carry trades, where investors buy higher-yielding assets with funds borrowed in lower-interest-rate countries. This stabilises initially the Lira, but makes it vulnerable to withdrawal. Typically the desire to withdraw funds is calmed down by raising interest rates. Turkey was number one for this funding method and now is punished for taking such unreasonable risk. See an old article from 2016 about carry trade as investment opportunity:

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Connecting International Organisations with finance and of course, Islamic finance

Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations affect Geneva from two major players. The United Nations family being one of the major locations for it and the well known financial industry:

Geographically, on the Right Bank mainly, we have 34 international organizations, 175 state representations, 350 NGOs and about 30,000 jobs. This community has unparalleled know-how in health, development, environment, human rights, etc. Opposite, on the Left Bank we have 104 banks and many other financial intermediaries that generate more than 35'000 workstations. joined a forum held on June 29 in Geneva, under the joint sponsorship of Sustainable Finance Geneva (SFG), SDG Lab, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Canton of Geneva.

In Geneva and Switzerland, sustainable finance occupies a special place. According to Swiss Sustainable Finance's Swiss Sustainable Finance Report 2018, the total market for sustainable investment in Switzerland has increased by 82% since 2016 to CHF 390.6 billion. The amount of sustainable funds currently represents around 8.7% of the entire Swiss fund market.

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Exciting weekend- going on fundraising; Swiss vote for full money

Dear Readers,

The coming weekend has two highlights for me:

1st: On Saturday I participate the second time at Unicef Cycling for Children. Going with my bike in the Swiss alps and cycle there about 800 elevation meters one lap over 20 km. Looking forward to see whether I can do more than one lap this time. Looking even further towards breaking my last year's fundraising of around 1000 USD.

Please make some of your money avalaible for children and support UNICEF (1 CHF arond 1 USD):

2nd: On Sunday Switzerland conducts a public vote regarding full reserve money. Still the projections are as such that the public initiative will not receive a majority, but global polling previously has shown various surprise elections already. Even the Financial Times had a favourable opinion piece by Martin Wolf today asking the Swiss people to vote for Vollgeld:

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Bitcoin: The Islamic discussion arrives - some aspects!

Dear Readers,

Following up on my previous posts on Bitcoin, this one is an attempt to gather and link up with the increasing discussion on the subject matter from an Islamic perspective.

My latest post was:

My personal view is critical on bitcoin, as I do not see any other use than payments, hence no intrinsic value. Value does not come from costs creating something but in my understanding from utility, rather than price and appreciation - but may be this point is more my thinking than a Shariah argument...

Further light on Fiqhi points are given in this paper:

Please check the following sources and my initial attempt for some comment, well taking in account that any summary will be deficient due to time constraints:

Diyanet, the Turkish religiouos authority has spoken out against bitcoin. See

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Dana Gas Sukuk - Why Sharia compliance is NOT the point

Dear Reader,

Dana Gas Sukuk is still making headlines and continues to damage the Sukuk market.
A key question to be understood: Could a lack of Sharia compliance make the issuance unlawful?

Well this is the claim of the prospectus regarding the Sharia compliance:

No assurance can be given as to Sharia rules

The Sharia advisory board of Dar Al-Sharia have confirmed that the Transaction Documents are, in their view, Sharia compliant. However, there can be no assurance that the Transaction Documents or the issue and trading of the Certificates will be deemed to be Sharia compliant by any other Sharia board or Sharia scholars. None of the Trustee, Dana Gas or the Delegate makes any representation as to the Sharia compliance of the Certificates and/or any trading thereof, and potential investors are reminded that, as with any Sharia views, differences in opinion are possible. Potential investors should obtain their own independent Sharia advice as to the compliance of the Transaction Documents and the issue and trading of the Certificates with Sharia principles.

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Bitcoin Mania versus Tulip Mania?

Dear Reader,

regular readers may remember my critic on bitcoin from an Islamic perspective missing intrinsic value. The former blog entry you find here: - almost two years ago.

So far bitcoin just went up higher and higher, with wild fluctuations but nevertheless.

It reminds on how bubbles work, think about the tulip mania in 1637 a nice piece of economic history. A single tulip bulb was traded and bought on credit. Check the Wiki page on it:

As bitcoin has even less value than a tulip except for payment purposes, it is the payment functionality, which can lead to destruction. What happens if a new alternative currency is becoming en vogue, which has a better usability and faster transaction time? In my view this is most likely trigger to burst the bubble.

FT Alphaville covers now the difficulties coming up with bitcoin's increasing transaction numbers causing inconvenience in using the digital currency:

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Update on the topic of Interest deductibility

Dear Reader,

Two obstacles blocking the substance of Islamic finance and destabilsing the economy, one is the risk weighting of Basle regulation discouraging banks from giving equity finance, the other the interest deductibility as cost factor discouraging corporates from taking equity finance.

At least the latter may slowly be resolved, reports FT Alphaville:

"US tax reform now contemplates ending the tax “subsidy” for interest. Ultimately, we concluded that the favoured tax treatment for debt and interest was unjustified, a position that inspired the primary private equity lobbying group to issue a 2,422 word press release assailing the FT piece."

It is worth reading completely; and I still wonder why Muslim majority countries are so slow to show any action to this adverse piece of damaging taxation.

Best regards,

Michael Gassner

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#AAOIFI Shari’ah Standard on #Gold - does it move the price?

Dear Reader,

There has been quite some media echo (see e.g.: ) on the AAOIFI Sharia Standard on Gold.

The standard was established in cooperation between the Accounting and Auditing Organisation of Islamic financial institutions (AAOIFI) and the World Gold Council, which defines itself as "the market development organisation for the gold industry."

Interestingly, the media reports are very enthusiastic in terms of creating lots of additional demand previously prevented to participate and invest in the Gold market.

Well, this is the point I like to challenge:

The standardization may increase efficiency, but will NOT create a new buyer segment, which has not existed before in my opinion – as already the first consultation draft just outlined the old classical Islamic legal positions regarding buying and selling of Gold.

There used to be a physical backed Gold Sukuk at DIFC once, which was dissolved and another attempt for years now to re-establish one. There are offers with a Fatwa in the market; quite doable just a matter of market demand.

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Are Contract for Differences #CFD / #Binary Options halal? Well, no. Why?

Many Muslims contacted me in the last years with one single repeating question: Are CFD and/or Binary Options halal meaning permissible in Islam? There are indeed forex brokers offering so called Islamic accounts avoiding outright interest. But still: A contract of difference does not involve the ownership of any underlying (currency, stocks etc.) hence money against money is exchanged in different amounts - this is the most simple test for the prohibited Riba. Any Muslim receiving such offers should therefore insist of receiving the Fatwa and if not provided leave out.

The intention on those trading activities everyone can ask himself; mostly it will be akin to gambling and this on top of the fact that the trading activity itself is a zero sum game; meaning what one wins another looses, which rules out again to participate in such business. It does not do any better that aside from luck the outcome is influenced by know how - the same is true for classical money games as Poker or Backgammon. Still nobody would classify Poker therefore as halal.

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Equity finance in form of Merchant Banking in the US under pressure

In the New York Times Deal Book, Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon writes about new steps to disapprove merchant banking by the FED to reduce risk but at high cost. From an Islamic point of view, it just looks like another door for equity investments by the banking sector is about to be shut down, while the contrary makes sense in times of an ongoing debt crisis.

Professor Solomon defines Merchant Banking as ""simply the practice of buying operating companies. The risk to a bank holding company is twofold. First, the bank could lose its money — as with any investment. Or second, it could be held liable for the debts of that company." Already he outlines that "banks are penalized for these investments by having a charge applied to their allowable capital. Second, the bank must sell the investment within 10 years, a period that can be extended by application to 15 years. These investments are monitored heavily these days to ensure they are not unduly risky."

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#Education #Crowdfunding - A direct and effective way of #Giving with #Givology

Dear Reader,

For some time I did private research on crowdfunding and fintech for the social good. Only recently I found the long existing platform - it allows to donate specifically for education to individual pupils in poorer countries and getting in touch with them! Personally this one of the causes important to me, because it ensures that the funds are being spent on education, and therewith building a future.

My questions to you are the following:

1. Would you donate for education via an internet platform, then you can conveniently check a profile from Somaliland just here:

2. If you are *not* interested to donate now, could you share what exactly, if anything, would make you donate? This would be exetremely helpful and I will share the information with to find a way to do just that.

3. If you any other ideas please feel free to share them. You can also directly suggest to volunteer:

In case you wish to receive further updates on Givology please register your email here:

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Securities Regulation: USA-SEC Adopts Rules to Permit Crowdfunding

Dear Readers,

The US Securities Exchange Commission has issued recently press release regarding equity crowd funding and its regulation:

"Washington D.C., Oct. 30, 2015 —
The Securities and Exchange Commission today adopted final rules to permit companies to offer and sell securities through crowdfunding. The Commission also voted to propose amendments to existing Securities Act rules to facilitate intrastate and regional securities offerings. The new rules and proposed amendments are designed to assist smaller companies with capital formation and provide investors with additional protections."

Equity funding is discriminated threefold in finanical markets despite most people assume that a market economy would leave choices to market participants. The three key problems are: 1) Risk weighting of equity finance a multiple higher than debt finance, thus making it unattractive for banks to provide equity finance and consequently destabilizing economies with excess debt. 2) Tax deductibility of interest expense. 3) Entry barriers to the securities markets to raise equity.

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Cryptocurrencies and Islamic finance?

Bitcoin ( started to make the idea of a cryptocurrency popular. What is missing so far is an intense discussion among Sharia scholars.

What makes Bitcoin unique is, that it is a) created by a computer program b) that it is created and verified by a decentralised process, the so-called 'Blockchain' technology (, which is solving a practical problem for the first time: To enable trust and accounting without a central ledger, such as a central bank. c) that it faciliates payments quick, efficient and discreet - while the latter leads to accusation of misuse, e.g. for gaming, drugs, terror finance etc.

How it can be seen from an Islamic perspective is not widely discussed, despite it deserves the attention. What we find in search engines are some discussions and also an initiative, which calls itself a bank (

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