The iFreedom Mastercard, geared specifically for a Muslim audience, was launched this week in Canada. Historically, devout Muslims have not held credit cards because it is against shariah law to own a card on which one must pay interest. The new card enables users to pre-load up to $6ooo on the card and use it like any other credit card, but without the associated debt.

This seems advantageous for those whose faith has prohibited them from participation in transactions that require credit cards. Moreover, the reach of a credit card extends well past the transaction itself. In much of Western culture, the very act of establishing credit is critical to one’s ability to rent or own a home. The creators of the iFreedom card assert that it will level the playing field by extending opportunity to those who have previously been excluded as a result of their religious convictions.

On the other hand, the new card may perpetuate a level of Western consumerism that may not be palatable to people from all backgrounds who opt not to use credit cards or other types of interest-bearing accounts. The iFreedom card could be perceived as sending a message that all people, regardless of faith or principle, must acquiesce to the dominant system if they hope to participate as equals. Could the card’s very existence reinforce resistance to other, “non-Western” ways of conducting transactions and managing finances? Or does it establish unprecedented opportunity for equity in developed nations?

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