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islamic finance

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Through Janus’ Eyes: Islamic Finance Looks Back and Forth

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islamic finance, islamic banking, islamic finance 2009

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It’s been a year of contrasts for Islamic Finance. Its integration into the international financial landscape has been heralded as a success, yet one catch is its consequent exposure to a global financial crisis created by the conventional systems’ flaws.
A higher volume of Islamic financial products are being cross-sold to non-Muslim customers, yet some Muslims themselves have been made to doubt the Sharia’a compliance of some of these products. Experts tell the Islamic banking industry that, on the one hand, an improvement in market research is needed to become as marketable as conventional banks, but on the other hand, mere Islamisation of conventional products will not do.
Perhaps, the most symbolic manifestation of this dichotomy is that of Dubai. Still heralded, just a few months ago, as the Crown Jewel of the Arab world, despite the emirate’s property slump, it was a testament to what Islamic Finance could achieve in terms of infrastructure, opulence and business. Now, Dubai World’s debt crisis has, according to some, exposed the city-state’s prestige as a mirage in the desert. Whilst this not wholly down to sukuk, the Islamic instrument has been the centre of the attention in the whole case. Nakheel’s inability to repay its sukuk holders on time suggests that the Sharia’a compliant instrument can be as risky as any conventional bonds or shares. Actually part of the problem is the ongoing controversy concerning the Sharia’a compliance of sukuk.
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