The modern history of Islamic finance is pretty short spanning a period of roughly five decades, compared to conventional finance which goes back to more than four centuries earlier. Islamic finance has spread rapidly across the globe, reminiscent of Lao-tzu’s famous saying “A journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step”. Malaysia, a pioneer in the development of the Islamic finance industry, has emerged as one of the major hubs for global Islamic finance.
Islam is more than a religion, as it represents a way of life for the Muslims and the humanity at large, based on faith and ethics, with checks and balances which cover all aspects, including commercial and financial transactions. The prohibition of interest, gambling, bribery, ambiguity and other forms of injustices has rendered many practices prevalent in conventional finance unlawful for the Muslims.
Malaysia’s financial solutions to the problems faced by Muslim population in the country have also created financial mechanisms that can solve the concerns of Muslims elsewhere as well. Though it has been a challenging effort for the thinkers, policy makers, scholars, and industry players and practitioners, these solutions are now recognised as the foundations upon which others can benefit and improve in creating a just financial system in the uncertain world of today.
From a humble beginning which witnessed the establishment of a simple saving system to facilitate pilgrimage or Hajj to the creation of Shari’ah compliant guidelines and the establishment of Islamic financial institutions for generations to come, Malaysia is playing a key role in reinventing and revitalising the applicability of finance in the Islamic way. Many of these achievements are well known, but some are unsung and have yet to be told. The stride of Malaysia’s advancements in Islamic finance is a commendable one and is worthy of being documented and shared.
Although the journey of contemporary Islamic finance is still in its infancy and did not begin in Malaysia, one is rest assured that Malaysia has taken the necessary steps to ensure that the journey has a clear direction through many crossroads and unchartered waters, marking milestones and scaling greater heights. This books speaks of this arduous journey and unveils an untold story. We do think that we have an exciting story to tell for the purpose of documentation.
This book is organised in such a manner that the reader is brought on a journey within the realms of the economic discipline in Malaysia and its evolutionary stages towards what is now known as Islamic finance. It seeks to shed light on the concerns of the community, ranging from microfinancing for the poor to wealth management for the rich within the paradigm of Islam as a religion and a way of life.
To be sure, this book is aimed at a wide readership, both Muslim and non-Muslim, as Islamic finance has much to offer to all, regardless of their religious orientations. Indeed, the importance of non-Muslim participation as stakeholders in the Islamic finance industry has been growing.
The chapters relating to Islamic banking in this book are arranged in a sequential order, from a historical backdrop to the establishment of the pilgrim fund, full-fledged Islamic banking, Islamic windows in conventional banks, Islamic subsidiaries of conventional banks, and wholesome foreign-owned Islamic banks in the country. The book then goes beyond Islamic banking to the development Islamic insurance (Takaful) industry, Islamic capital market, wealth management, microfinance, and the contributions of stakeholders. Finally, an attempt is made in the last chapter to capture the main highlights in the trajectory of Islamic finance in Malaysia, and to underscore the key issues and challenges facing the industry.
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