Elasrag: Corporate governance in Islamic Finance – Basic concepts and issues

From the Introduction:

Islamic finance is the only example of a financial system directly based on the ethical precepts of a major religion, providing not only investment guidelines but also a set of unique investment and financing products.” Islamic finance is based on Shari’a, the Islamic law that provides guidelines for multiple aspects of Muslim life, including religion, politics, economics, banking, business and aspects of the legal system What Shari’ah compliant financing (SCF) seeks to do is to shape financial practices and accompanying legal instruments that conform to Islamic law. Major financial principles of Shari’ah include a ban on interest, a ban on uncertainty, adherence to risk-sharing and profit-sharing, promotion of ethical investments that enhance society and do not violate practices banned in the Qur’an and tangible asset-backing.(Elasrag 2011)

This book reviews Institutions offering Islamic financial services’ (IIFS’) corporate governance (CG) challenges and suggests options to address them. Four main concerns motivate this attention to the CG of IIFS:
1. CG is important for economic development;
2. the assets of IIFS are significant and growing,
3. sound CG may be more critical for financial than other
organizations, and
4. the CG vulnerabilities of IIFS may not have received adequate attention in conventional CG frameworks This book is one of few papers that highlight the importance of studying corporate governance for institutions offering Islamic financial services. The book is of value in describing governance in Islamic institutions and how there are many issues under the investigation process, especially issues related to the Shari’ah Supervisory board and its functionality.

One of the objectives of this paper is to discuss, and create greater awareness of, some of the crucial issues related to corporate governance in Islamic financial institutions. A second, but in fact more important, objective is to provide, in the light of this discussion, certain essential guidelines to improve corporate governance in these institutions and thereby enable them to not only maintain their momentum of growth and international acceptance but also safeguard the interests of all stakeholders. The paper gives particular attention to the mechanisms for corporate governance, including the Board of Directors, Senior Management, shareholders, depositors, and regulatory and supervisory authorities. It also focuses on the effective management of risks and, in particular, on creating a supporting environment through moral uplift, social, legal and institutional checks, greater transparency, internal controls, and Shari’a as well as external audit. The paper also indicates briefly the shared institutions that are needed for effective corporate governance.


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