Specially designed tools are used to track the affiliations and intellectual contributions of the Shariah scholars in the Islamic finance industry. This worldwide database was created to address the demand for knowledgeable Shariah scholars in this rapidly growing industry.
IFIS analysts will monitor and regularly update the composition of Shariah boards worldwide covering Regulatory Agencies, Islamic banks, Islamic funds, or conventional institutions that either have dedicated Islamic windows or offer Islamic products.
This database can be viewed either by Institution or by Scholar. Hyperlinks, search facilities, filters, as well as click through to the company profiles on IFIS are other enhanced features. Profiles of the scholars are made available wherever possible, including an analysis of their areas of specialization.
Models of Shariah supervision tracked range from a single Shariah scholar, to in-house Shariah advisors, embedded Shariah Boards, to independent Shariah consultancy services made up of a team of well known Shariah scholars, legal advisers and practitioners.
Sheikh Yusuf Talal DeLorenzo, world renowned Shariah Scholar in the USA, commended this initiative saying, “The Shariah Supervisory Database, now that it’s web based, is vastly improved. Given the pace of development in our industry, it is encouraging to see that IFIS has recognized the importance of this information and developed a platform that will allow for regular updates”.
As IFIS Product Manager, Rakiya Sanusi explains, “Compliance with International regulations and accounting standards, along with the demands of oil rich investors, governments and shareholders for highly sophisticated and complex investment products, has led IFIS to create a database of knowledgeable Shariah scholars”.
“Quite a number of these scholars are not only versed in Fiqh al Muamalat (Rules of Islamic financial transactions) and Islamic jurisprudence, but also in the advanced world of finance. Their understanding of the structures of these transactions allows them to determine their Shariah compliance”.
However, there is an urgent need for more scholars that understand complex financial transactions and legal documentations. In response to this demand, there have been concerted efforts from the industry to address these issues. For example the Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah in collaboration with Bank Negara Malaysia have set up a $53 million endowment fund to support the role of Shariah scholars. Other institutions plan to launch training programmes to produce qualified financial Shari’ah scholars.
Interestingly, there are now Shariah finance consultancy services being set up with Shariah scholars, legal advisers and practitioners that are also involved in product development. These companies conduct and deliver Shariah reviews and audits, research and development, fatwas and Shariah compliance for institutions offering Islamic financial services.
Rushdi Siddiqui, Global Director, Dow Jones Islamic Index said “The efforts by IFIS to continue expanding the coverage in the Islamic finance space is most welcomed, and I commend the team on pioneering efforts like the Shariah Scholar Database!”
Shariah scholars like Sheikh Nizam Yacubi, Dr Abdul Sattar Abdul Ghuda, Dr Mohammed El Gari, Dr. Mohammed Daud Bakar, Sheikh Yusuf Talal DeLorenzo, Sheikh Hussain Hamid Hassan, to mention a few, feature prominently in this database.
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