Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders
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
Mohsin Khan, former head of the Middle East department at the International Monetary Fund, says the Islamic banking industry could benefit from consolidation by reducing the number of sharia boards, or groups of Islamic scholars, that each bank employs in the Middle East to decide whether or not investments comply with Islamic law. I spoke with Khan earlier this week ahead of the 2009 Reuters Islamic Banking and Finance Summit that kicks-off on April 13th in Dubai, Bahrain, Kuala Lumpur and London. Click here to listen:
Kahn on consolidation from Reuters TV on Vimeo.