IN an attempt to attract more Muslims, Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) launched Monday a share index that uses the guidelines of an Indian Shariah advisory board, and consists of the top 50 companies in India that are strictly following the Islamic codes, reported BSE has the largest number of listed sharia-compliant stocks in the world. All Muslim countries of the Middle East and Pakistan put together do not have as many listed sharia-compliant stocks as are available on the BSE, said Shariq Nisar, director of research and operations at TASIS. Since Islamic laws do not permit Muslims to invest in companies that obtain benefits from interest or the sale of goods and services considered sinful such as alcohol, tobacco or firearms, all the companies listed under this index were closely scrutinized to ensure they meet the Islamic legal codes. The index will also build a base for licensing for the construction of sharia-compliant financial products, including mutual funds, ETFs (exchange traded funds) and structured products, said Madhu Kannan, the managing director and chief executive of the Bombay Stock Exchange. And since the Muslim population in India reaches to 160 million, this index may create increased awareness of financial investments among the masses and help enhance financial inclusion, Kannan added. However, it is believed that it might attract foreign Islamic finances as well. The stocks within BSE TASIS Shariah 50 index will be reviewed on a monthly basis to ensure that the companies will continue to meet the mandatory criteria, and any company found with illegalities, will be removed.