Product Development in Islamic Banks

By Habib Ahmed | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

In an interview conducted for this book, a senior official of an Islamic bank in Malaysia disclosed the following: ‘Almost 70 percent of our customers are non-Muslims. In fact, we find it difficult to sell products to Muslims clients as they ask many questions about the authenticity of Islamic products’. This statement reveals the paradox facing Islamic banking practice today. On the one hand non-Muslims, who can use conventional financial services, are choosing Islamic financial products in large numbers. They do so, not due to religious reasons, but because they find the terms and conditions of the financing attractive. For Muslim clients, however, terms and conditions are not the only factors determining their business with Islamic financial institutions. For them, dealing with Islamic banks is a matter of faith. As such, compliance of banking practices with principles and rules of Shari'ah becomes vital for them.

The predicament contemporary Islamic finance practice faces is at two levels: the first is foundational and the second legal. At the foundational level, Islamic finance is considered to be a part of an Islamic economic system which has an inherent social orientation. The overall goal of this system is to realise the objectives of Islamic law (maqasid al-Shari'ah) which should manifest in the economy as enabling growth, justice and equity. This implies that other than fulfilling the

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