The limited number of Sharia scholars has meant the same
group of men are on various advisory boards which has led to criticism
that people can go "fatwa shopping" and that scholars are in it for the money.
Not so, says Harris Irfan, head of Islamic products at
"We're not out fatwa shopping," he said at the Reuters
Islamic Banking and Finance Summit. "We want to work with the
scholar who's willing to say 'no' (to non-Sharia products)"
A study last year by Funds at Work, a consultant for the
fund industry, looked at scholars' engagement by financial firms
in the Gulf Arab region. It found the top 10 scholars hold about
46 percent of all available positions in the region.
Internationally, excluding the Gulf, the top 10 scholars --
out of 70 active outside the region -- hold 58 percent of board
Scholars can earn up to $150,000 per project and it can take
four to six months for a Sharia-compliant project to be
developed. For the scholar, that can mean between four to six
weeks of work on a project.