(People withdraw cash from an automatic teller machine at a CIMB Islamic branch in Sepang outside Kuala Lumpur August 26, 2013. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad )

Some of the world’s most well-known Islamic finance scholars are launching a self-regulating professional association that will develop training and professional conduct standards for the gatekeepers of Islamic business.

The Association of Sharia Scholars in Islamic Finance (ASSIF), a British-registered charity, will address a longstanding problem in the industry: the lack of a clear, commonly recognised set of qualifications for scholars.

Boards of sharia scholars at financial institutions rule on whether activities and products follow religious principles such as bans on interest payments and monetary speculation.

But scholars’ rulings can contradict each other, confusing investors, and the approval process is open to accusations of conflicts of interest, since scholars are paid by the institutions whose products they vet.