Howard University leading way for Islamic Finance in the US

Howard University's School of Divinity School, located in Washington DC's unique Brookland neighborhood, could soon become a global center of excellence for the study and practice of Islamic finance in the United States.

Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick, MD speaks to Capitol Intelligence/BBN using CI Glass on Howard University plans for Howard University School of Divinity located in Brookland, Northeast Washington, DC. Howard University, Stokes Library,The Howard University School of Divinity is located on 22 acres of prime real estate in the Brookland neighborhood in Northeast Washington DC and is located next door to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land representing Jerusalem and the Holy Land in the United States.For years the campus has been left vacant as Howard University President Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick instituted a study for possible re-use on the part of the non-for-profit real estate development association, Urban Land Institute.

The fact is that Howard University is still mulling options for the re-use or expansion of the Howard University Divinity School has opened a once in a generation opportunity for Gulf leaders in Islamic banking such as the Kingdom of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and the State of Qatar to integrate the principles of Islamic finance into the fabric of the world's largest economy.In fact, Kingdom of Bahrain Foreign Minister His Excellency Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohamed Khalifa said he is very familiar with Howard University from his time as a rising diplomatic star the Kingdom's Embassy in Washington, DC.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is intimately familiar with the Brookland neighborhood through Abu Dhabi's endowment of the George Washington University affiliated Children's National Medical Center and Qatar has circa US$1 billion real estate investments with its downtown DC City Center and a new Conrad Hilton flagship hotel.Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani filmed by Capitol Intelligence/CI MENA using CI Glass at Tunisia 2020 Road to Inclusion, Sustainability and Efficiency in Tunis, Tunisia.
 
The basic tenets of Sharia compliant banking not charging interest on loans and risk sharing is a uniquely social responsible form of finance surprisingly well suited to the often vulnerable African-American population in the United States. Islamic mortgages known in the United States as rent-to-own are much better suited for lower-income home buyers than traditional US mortgage lenders who generally discriminate against African-American borrowers and quickly bankrupt weak borrowers as witnessed in the 2008 sub-prime financial crisis.

Today, African-American home ownership is at the lowest level since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. March on Washington some 50 years ago.Islamic finance also has innovative solutions for funding new businesses, the Islamic banks acquiring stakes in invested companies rather than making cash-flow or collateral based interest bearing loans.The unique historic nature of the Black American church where each pastor basically serves as the CEO of his congregation makes the combination of Islamic finance studies with HU Divinity School such a logical and straight forward solution.

While ULI staffers may have accomplished little, ULI trustees such as Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Head of Americas Thomas R. Arnold; Goldman Sachs Managing Director Jeffrey A. Barclay, Black Rock Chairman of Global Real Estate John R. Chandler; Blackstone Group principal Jonathan Pollack; and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) Ralph Rosenberg all work closely with the sovereign wealth funds of Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE.Urban Land Institute (ULI)Trustees will also have no problem organizing the fund raising for the US$30 million to US$50 million needed to renovate the existing campus and found a new Islamic finance/moral investment department.A similar endowments at ULI Trustees' alma maters such as Yale, University of Chicago, Georgetown University, Tufts and Harvard would start at a minimum of US$150 million and would earn only the cursory interest of the Universities' trustees.

"Howard University's 150 years history and its unique place in American history make it a place of learning with both national and global importance," said one notable Howard University Trustee said. "However, some in corporate America treat Black Americans as children of a lesser god."Direct corporate involvement, as proposed with HU Divinity School, has also proven to be a model of success in achieving outstanding results in bridging the gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills in the United States.

However, funding a handful of STEM schools in DC, Baltimore and even Prince George's County is a drop in the bucket of the more than the US$250 million Exelon paid financial advisers Goldman Sachs, Chicago-based Loop Capital headed by Obama golfing partner James Reynolds and their lawyers Kirkland & Ellis to carry-out the relatively small US$4.4 billion acquisition of Pepco.