The Islamic financial system is another product in the banking industry and should be seen as competing with other conventional banking products operating in the world. It is open to everyone and not Muslims alone, were some of the thoughts that emerged at a forum on Islamic banking this week.
This was during the second Islamic Finance Forum for South Asia (IFFSA) 2017 under the theme ‘Cooperation, Consolidation and Concentration’ which was held at the Colombo Ramada Hotel.
Expressing these thoughts to the Business Times, Ishrat Rauff, Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Additional Capital, Sri Lanka, said this concept of banking began when the first Islamic Bank was started in Dubai in 1970 and is now growing in various other countries.
Interest has been shown in countries like the United States and the UK and in fact the United Kingdom has several fully fledged Islamic banks which has become a trillion dollar industry and growing enormously.
Addressing the forum, he said that IFFSA has now become an annual event focusing on the Islamic Banking and Finance (IBF) industry in South Asia with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka and it was also drawing visitors from West Asia, South East Asia and India.
The conference is the only one of its kind, with industry leaders and experts deliberating in the plenary sessions on a multitude of contemporary issues, primarily focusing on South Asia, he said and indicated that discussions would lead to the potential for Islamic Banking and Finance in South Asia.
The role Islamic Banking and Finance could play in funding the infrastructure requirements of various countries, the SME market, etc.
During the first plenary session, delegates from the Maldives, India and Bangladesh presented their country reports.
Maldives delegate, Dr Aishath Muneeza, Chairperson, Maldives Centre for Islamic Finance, said that the country is 100 per cent Islamic and the law stipulates that only Muslims can be citizens of that country.
The legal and the financial system of the country is however not fully based on Islamic law and hence it would not be erroneous to state that the Maldivian legal and financial systems are pluralistic.—(QP)