Today, you are reading my bicentennial article, together with the completion of the full cycle of explaining Islamic banking and finance, Islamic capital market and Islamic asset management by me.
It gives me a great sense of fulfillment that the thought of imparting to IFN readers with the information on my own transition from being a thoroughbred conventional banker (who would claim it to be the best thing that happened to the world’s financial system) to an avid Islamic banker (championing its cause as a lifetime mission) is completing today.
I bow my head down to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds and the source of all knowledge, intellect and wisdom. He bestowed the awareness of a fair and just God-made financial system upon me, after spending over two decades in believing and supporting the man-made financial system.
My utmost gratitude goes out to the learned and respected Shariah scholars who have been very kind in sharing their knowledge and providing appropriate guidance whenever I needed it.
In this connection, I must pay tribute to the late Dr Hussain Hamed Hassan, who was serving as the head of Dubai Islamic Bank’s Shariah board when I joined the bank in 2001. He helped me in founding Dar Al Sharia with his vast knowledge and expertise in Islamic jurisprudence.
Dr Hussain was always available to provide the right guidance toward developing the pioneering full range of alternate products for all facets of Islamic banking, Sukuk and funds with the team of experts that I had gathered. Certainly, the effort proved decisive in growing the size of Islamic finance as more and more institutions adopted the new offerings.
I am thankful to the REDmoney Group team for giving me the opportunity and space to express my own learning of the Shariah finance ropes in my own words, and exhibiting great patience with me to complete the 200th article in 4.5 years against the simple mathematics of two years.
Banking and finance has undergone many changes compared with 2018 when I had picked up the pen to commence this ‘Back to Basics’ column. COVID-19 almost wiped out two precious years from the economies of the world but the silver lining is that 2021 saw a rebound. It will be clear to us by the end of this year whether it can be sustained, although the World Bank had predicted a slowdown in its January 2022 report.
Digitization is the new pulse of the financial industry, revolutionizing the way we deal with money and wealth. The faster you digitize, the greater the market share you hold. There is the famous maxim of ‘blessing in disguise’, so should we credit the pandemic for the digitization stimulus? The jury is out on the issue. Some say digitization was unstoppable but the COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out massive wealth from the surface of the earth, whereas the others strongly believe we would have taken a decade to be where we are now, had COVID-19 not occurred.
Irrespective of the speed of digitization, the question arises as to whether the increased digitization has made Islamic finance more relevant or less pertinent to modern-day finance.
If you have read my opening thoughts and the last few articles starting from REITs, the message that I have tried to convey is that the Islamic financing and investment principles have remained unchanged since the 7th century AD, and the simple reason is that these are God-made morals.
God Almighty, being our Creator and Sustainer, would not have accorded us with an imperfect and unfair system to deal with the most important and valuable possession in our lives, ie money and wealth.
Hence, at any time and age, any technology or mechanics and any shape or size of money and wealth, the Islamic financing and investment principles stand out for being consistent, fair, unambiguous, unbiased and eternal.
My last three articles on security tokens prove the point that all-round digitization shall have the potential to catapult Islamic finance to new horizons and make it more relevant and thriving than ever before.
So, what should I do next? Should I close the Back to Basics column and cease contributing to IFN, having completed the cycle?
Writing for IFN has become an old habit and you know old habits die hard. Therefore, I will continue to write and I will keep it as a surprise what comes out next from my keyboard.
Until then, have yourselves a short break but never hesitate to write to me on any aspect of my articles no matter how early they were published, or even if I have not written on the subject of your query.
The purpose of this educative series and the article is not to hurt any religious or commercial sentiments either consciously or even unwittingly.