A reader sent me an e-mail which seems to condemn this development as a sign of "dhimmitude":
Standard & Poor's said it will launch on Tuesday versions of its widely used global indexes such as the S&P 500 .SPX, in response to the burgeoning demand for financial products and services that comply with Islamic law, or shariah.
Shariah forbids Muslims from receiving interest payments and from investing in companies involved in the production or sale of pork, alcohol, tobacco, pornography, gambling and non-Islamically structured finance or life insurance....
In further developments, some people have actually launched restaurants that only serve shariah-compliant food! Not only that, but others have food that complies with Jewish law, and still others have food that complies with vegan ethical principles. How will the nation survive?
Seems to me that if customers want to buy certain products and not others -- because they're Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, vegan, and so on -- it's generally quite good for businesses to cater to those customers' preferences. If that means investing in companies that don't sell certain foods or certain financial instruments, or investing in companies that pollute less, or investing in companies that supposedly treat their works better, that seems just fine to me. We don't become "dhimmis" (non-Muslims governed by Muslim law) by doing what smart businesspeople routinely do: adjusting their products to the tastes of their customers.