Much has happened since the publication of the first edition of this book in 2000. The Islamic sector has experienced tremendous growth, and has now reached an estimated $1,300 billion (a sixfold increase over the past decade). No longer confined to the outer fringes of global finance, Islamic finance has also gone mainstream. Most major financial institutions are now involved in one way or another in Islamic finance, as are global consulting, accounting, and information companies. Islamic financial institutions now operate in at least 105 countries, and more countries have introduced (or are considering introducing) legislation designed to provide a regulatory framework for the industry.
Within the Islamic world, Islamic financial institutions have become major economic players. Five countries dominate Islamic banking: Iran with $345 billion in Islamic assets; followed by Saudi Arabia ($258 billion); Malaysia ($142 billion); Kuwait ($128 billion); and the United Arab Emirates ($112). A few non-Islamic countries, among them the United Kingdom and Singapore, have announced their intention of becoming hubs of Islamic finance, and others (such as Australia, France and South Korea) have altered their legislation to become more hospitable to Islamic finance.
A number of interrelated demographic, political, economic, and financial factors account for a boom in Islamic finance that shows no sign of abating. Initially scarce, Islamic financial products have multiplied in recent years, attracting a growing number of customers. Non-Islamic financial institutions that had previously ignored the Islamic market have started to pay close attention. With the rise in energy prices in the period between 2003 and 2008 further enhancing the economic importance of oil-producing Islamic countries, Islamic financial institutions received a further boost.
Especially notable is the appearance and growing popularity of sukuk, often described as Islamic bonds. Since 2002, corporations and government have been able to raise money in a Shariah-compliant way by issuing trust certificates that could be traded on the secondary market. Over a period of six years the market has skyrocketed to $100 billion.
Long criticized for being overly conservative when it came to financial innovation, Islamic institutions felt vindicated when the sub-prime crisis hit much of the conventional banking sector in 2007. In that year alone, the Islamic sector grew by . . .