It is important that in critical evaluation of Islamic banking and finance, both the perspective (economics or Shari’ah) must be clearly acknowledged and for evaluation from the Shari’ah perspective, the knowledge and comprehension gap is filled too for better mutual understanding and resolution of conflicting viewpoints.
When a common person tries to form an opinion about Islamic banking, he hears cliché sayings about Islamic banking, such as ‘Currently, Islamic banking and finance are not truly Islamic’, ‘It is only changing of conventional terms into Islamic terms’ and ‘Islamic banking is an oxymoron as banking cannot be Islamic’. This brief article discusses some points that will help in better understanding Islamic finance and Islamic banking in particular.
In Islamic Ijarah and Diminishing Musharakah based contracts, Islamic bank charges rent for the use of asset in its ownership and risk, charges these rents after the asset has been provided to the client in usable condition and only till the asset remains in usable condition during the lease period. These differences also ensure strong links with the real economy and productive sector and limit credit creation other than for genuine value creating economic activities in the real economy.
If the government wishes to align the government finances in a way that converges with IFI principles, the government may need to work to eliminate conventional debt and adopt raising funds using productive investments only.
Inclusivity, equitable distribution of resources and socio-economic mobility do not determine Shari’ah compliance or validity. However, these visionary goals are the aspirations of many people in academics and public at large. The realists contend that the visionary objectives of equitable distribution of income will be taken care of in the long run by Islamic social finance institutions, such as Zakat and Waqf. Islamic banks as one part of Islamic finance ecosystem will continue to serve the short term financing requirements of clients and for which debt based Islamic modes of financing are the suitable options.
If the virus had been growing at a linear rate, it would not have been that much dangerous. It is the exponential increase in the Corona Virus spread which makes it become uncontrollable and create havoc in the society. Compound interest in the financial system is such a Corona Virus. Interest accrued but unpaid increases interest in the future periods ahead at an exponential rate.
The difference in an Islamic framework would come with the normative distinction between investments which are declared as prohibited in the ethical injunctions of Islamic faith and other investments which are deemed as permissible.
Financial inclusion of the poor requires a different approach in product design, pricing and delivery. This requires innovation, flexibility, efficiency and committed leadership. Fintech can be a key catalyst in increasing the penetration and outreach of Islamic banking in Muslim majority countries.
Sukuk issuance needs to be used in providing finance for diverse needs. Corporate issuances follow the trends in business cycles. Sovereign Sukuk for development finance can provide impetus to the Sukuk issuance in cyclical downturns. In addition to that, it can also provide long-term macroeconomic support to the governments and enterprises by building the infrastructure for tomorrow.
This article discusses the major risks that Islamic banks face in their commercial operations and the tools with which they mitigate these risks.