How Shari`ah-compliant is Islamic Banking?

Author (s): 
Abu Umar Faruq, Ahmad Rashid Raashed and Mohammad Mahbubi Ali

This research is a critical analysis of the practice of certain Islamic banks (IBs) and institutions offering Shari`ah-complaint financial services (ISFS). Under the guise of Islam, these IBs and ISFS in fact are the profit maximising business ventures. Their business practices are not in compliance with relevant rules and practices of Shari`ah. Nevertheless, due to absence of a strong yet dedicated regulatory body, no challenge can be mounted against them. The customer base of these IBs and ISFS is only on a note of well wish and good faith. But in absence of a watch dog, the good-will turns out to be a tool to betraying public trust. One the other hand, it makes mockery with the entire IF industry. Most of these IBs and ISFS today grant their Shari`ah Advisory Committees’ (SACs) advisory role making their findings voluntary and optional. There may be a true compliance for correcting any breaches found by these bodies, but yet, legality works in a particular way. In absence of an executive power being granted to these bodies as which is also ingrained in the constitution, a bank or institution will fail the legal definition of it being Shari`ah-compliant. Compliance with the Sahri`ah in transactions is either obligatory or optional! There is no second way! At the end, the issue boils down to that of conscience and compliance where one is made victim for lack of it on the part of regulatory establishment. Whereas on the part of the subjected businesses, they are no more than mere ventures that are bent on making profit by any means using appealing slogans! Given the current practice of IBs and ISFS, the study suggests that their SACs must function independently and beyond the control of banks' own executive apparatus. The setting of these SACs and the executive power thereof must be ingrained within the constitution or basic rules. Among others, their power must include disciplinary measures being granted to these SACs by which they may disciple any failing managers or officials for non-compliance. Most of such IBs and ISFS seem to fail on this crucial provision. Therefore, the study finds that such IBs and ISFS are not legally Islamic.

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