Practitioners and Academics from Egypt, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and Germany met at the German University in Cairo to discuss the Islamic Finance status and road ahead globally and in Egypt. One of the main aspects discussed within the conference was the relation between Islamic finance and ethics and how Islamic Finance can grow in the future.
Since we at IdealRatings are witnessing growth in terms of client inquiries both from new funds launched as well as wealth management accounts managed in accordance to Shariah, our answer would be that there is growth but to reach the next level, Islamic Finance has to expand in terms of multi-religious as well as ethical perspectives.
New York, 53rd Street with 6th Avenue a Fast food stand can be found called “Halal Guys” which does not differ from any other fast food or hot dog stand you see across New York downtown corners, except for the fact that this stand is always crowded and queues form on a daily basis by hundreds of New Yorkers and tourists alike. The men serving the food are Middle Eastern long bearded Muslims and their products are labeled as Halal food which might at first seem appealing for Muslim Americans, but actually the queued mass in front of the stand is there because of the food quality and pricing which results in attracting all type of New Yorkers and not just Muslims.
Imagine Islamic finance and especially the Islamic fund industry to be cross-religious by providing qualitative investment products in terms of return, risk, liquidity as well as ethical credibility which appeals to both Muslims and non-Muslims similar to the concept of the “Halal Guys” in New York. In the case of the “Halal Guys”, the Islamic reference in their labeling does not bother the New Yorkers, so the question is if Islamic Finance could have the same effect or not.
Instead of focusing on the labeling we have to focus on expanding market reach through providing ethical and cross-religious products that would turn Islamic Finance to a mainstream industry. So one of the recommendations are to focus on ethical principles rather than technical requirements which will result in achieving cross-religious acceptance as well as socially responsible requirements. This will result in a broader acceptance of Islamic Finance products that can also be considered Abrahamic Finance products.
Dr. Shehab Marzban