This paper aims to define the parameters of the reward-risk principle in Islamic finance. The paper is a good attempt to conceptualize the Fiqh basis of risk-reward principle and to use the understanding in revisiting both Ribā-based and Islamic finance contracts.
This paper presents statistics to illustrate the economic effects of COVID-19 in the global economy. Poverty and unemployment in the informal sector of developing economies is on the rise. On the other hand, developed economies have also seen economic contraction. Capital markets have seen sharp decline in the early part of 2020. However, the author notes that Islamic equity portfolios were less affected. This finding is discovered in other empirical studies as well where Islamic portfolios are found to perform relatively better in economic and market downturns.
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.
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.
The two most important problems identified in a post-financial crisis look back are perverse incentives and de-linking of financial sector growth and activities with the real sector of the economy. Islamic finance principles by basing all financial products with real assets fill the gap and this feature alone is a very important risk management tool inbuilt into the system.
From the risk and profitability perspective, Islamic modes of financing keep the Islamic financial system liquid and less prone to risk due to asset backing. Often, the investors with bank (the deposit holders) are risk averse and want consistent returns. But, small savers do not have enough funds to finance big volume projects directly. But, using investors’ pool of funds to provide financing, the investors are able to share in benefit of such economic activities.