How do you describe Islamic Finance in the simplest manner?

Islamic finance came to this modern world 40 years ago. It features a new way of doing banking and capital raising as well as insurance. It simply denounces the practice of paying or receiving a premium on the loan, or simply interest. Trading and investment activities have been the backbone of Islamic finance since then, propelling the real economic activities in the whole value chain of commercial dealings and transactions, both retail and corporate.

What triggered you to write this book?

By and large, many would have known Islamic finance by now. However, the life and minds of the Shariah scholars acting as the Shariah advisors to Islamic finance may still be mysterious and shrouded. For the last 40 years, Shariah scholars avoided an open engagement with industry stakeholders. Instead, they tended to bury themselves deeper in the ground. Unfortunately, this has created imperfect knowledge if not negative insinuations about them.

What is the book about?

Shariah Minds in Islamic Finance is my story. It is a rare inside look and account of many facets of a career of a Shariah advisor, both the life and the minds of these advisors. I have engaged on many issues and themes which are both controversial and thought provoking. I need to clear the dust to create a better environment for Shariah advisory services moving forward. The first step must come from the Shariah scholars themselves.

How does the governance relate to Shariah advisors?

Governance is the household name of the contemporary finance. Shariah governance is surely an integral element of this movement. I have strongly voted for the need for the duty of care, diligence and skills of Shariah scholars. This duty, I believe will take care most, if not all the antagonistic perceptions towards Shariah scholars.

What makes Shariah minds relevant to your book?

The thinking process of a Shariah scholar to arrive at a particular decision or fatwa is rather complex and substantial. Many stakeholders did not have the chance to see this Shariah mind working in action. I have ventured into this aspect in this book quite extensively and intensely. The Shariah scholars cannot be taken for granted and I don’t think we can second-guess any scholar or any other stakeholder for that matter. We need to welcome any Shariah mind in the evolution of the Islamic finance industry. No Shariah mind is insignificant. Likewise, no profession or knowledge should be underestimated or overestimated. No expertise in Islamic finance is insignificant.

Any burning issues?

We have heard many voices on the Shariah advisors in the past. This is to be expected as the Shariah advisors have been put on the centre stage of Islamic finance since day one. Instead of hiding behind the veil of Shariah scholar’s deep knowledge and respect that they have enjoyed in the society, I took the courage to confront each and every issue that hits the Shariah advisors on many fronts. I have presented a fair and balanced but truthful view on issues of conflict of interest, the monopoly of a few leading scholars, the purported lucrative scheme of Shariah professional fees, the perceived conflict between Malaysian-based scholars and GCC- based scholars on fatwa, window shopping of fatwa and many others.

Moving forward....

We need to focus on grooming and developing new scholars. I have shared many invaluable tips and trade secrets from my two decades of industry experience. Shariah minds in Islamic finance looks deep into the Shariah thinking algorithm of the Shariah advisors. It also speaks about the role of big data analytics and artificial intelligence to complement the Shariah thinking algorithm in real practice.

Your wish...?

For all intents and purposes, Shariah minds in Islamic finance is always enlightening, engaging and motivating to almost all walks of life. It is all about of how to be better and smarter.