Monday, August 04, 2008

Transparency through publicly available fatawa

Syed Farook, a lecturer in Islamic finance at BIBF in Bahrain, wrote an article on about the prospects for providing greater transparency in the development of fiqh by providing publicly available fatawa that will allow junior Shari'ah scholars to view senior Shari'ah scholars' fatawa and hopefully reduce the number of senior Shari'ah scholars who sit on more than twenty Shari'ah boards (currently six).

Bank Negara Malaysia governor Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, speaking at the launch of a training seminar on Islamic finance commented on the progress Malaysia is making to become a global hub in Islamic finance, "Due to wide ranging liberalisation measures, we have seen the entry of new foreign Islamic financial groups into our financial system and increased foreign interest in domestic Islamic financial institutions". The Malaysian Islamic finance market, although one of the most developed in the world, received some skepticism from foreign Islamic finance institutions, particularly in sukuk, where Shari'ah regulations are viewed as more liberal than those in the GCC.

Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal Global Investors is the latest Western company to enter the Islamic finance market and will do so in Malaysia in partnership with CIMB Islamic.

Takaful House, a Dubai-based takaful company listed on the Dubai Financial Market, the domestic stock exchange for companies in the UAE. The IPO offering price was AED 1 per share.

The Islamic Bank of Thailand (IBT) chairman wants to see non-Muslims use the bank, in addition to Muslims, who make up 6 million (just under 10%) of the population. There may also be plans in the future for the bank to become listed on the Thai Stock Exchange. IBT is one of the smallest state-owned banks in Thailand and has a high level of non-performing loans, at 16%.

The slowdown in Western financial markets coupled with the rise in Middle Eastern finance, including Islamic finance, has led to Western law firms, particularly those with a focus on the financial markets, opening branch offices throughout the GCC in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

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