The global credit crisis presents the $1 trillion Islamic finance industry with an opportunity to expand its appeal beyond devout Muslim investors as a haven from speculative excess.

The message may have particular resonance in the West after the collapse of the US mortgage market left banks holding hundreds of billions of dollars of nearly worthless credit instruments tied to home loans by a web of complex structures.

While conventional banks are nursing losses of more than $400 billion from the credit crisis, Islamic banks are virtually unscathed. The industry is playing up the contrast to scalded shareholders, bondholders and borrowers and fearful depositors.

It’s very much a return to old fashioned conservative lending,” said David Testa, chief executive of Gatehouse Bank which began operations in April as Britain’s fifth Islamic bank.