Omar Shaikh

Islamic finance gains ground in UK despite confusion about offerings

The UK Islamic finance sector holds an estimated £15 billion ($19 billion) of assets, the largest outside the Middle East and Asia. The Gatehouse Bank is intent on developing the Islamic finance sector in Britain.

Christians and Muslims work together on pioneering ethical finance plans

The Church of Scotland and Islamic Finance Council UK are meeting at a private round table in the British Parliament. As part of the interfaith initiative for a more socially responsible financial system, faith leaders, parliamentarians and finance practitioners gather to agree a shared values framework. The joint venture was launched earlier this year in response to the systemic failure and non-sustainability of the current financial model. The event is the second in a series of three workshops. The first reviewed the theological and philosophical underpinnings of Christianity and Islam in order to identify commonalities. At the second workshop the shared values framework will be reviewed and refined before participants explore the practical obstacles to realising ethical finance. Omar Shaikh of the Islamic Finance Council UK said that bringing the debate to the heart of London sends a strong international message that faith communities can work together for the greater good of society.

External Sharia audits gain traction in Islamic finance — study

External Sharia audits are gaining support in Islamic finance as consumers and regulators seek more transparency and accountability. Pressure for more external oversight has been building in several countries that have major Islamic finance industries, and this year Bahrain’s central bank proposed new governance rules that would require Islamic banks there to conduct external Sharia audits. The study, published by the Malaysia-based International Sharia Research Academy for Islamic Finance and Britain’s UK Islamic Finance Council (UKIFC), said external Sharia audits should become mandatory globally. Omar Shaikh, advisory board member of the UKIFC, said external Sharia audit would play an important role towards providing reassurance to scholars, financial institutions and customers. The study suggested that to help national regulators introduce external Sharia audits, the scope of the audits should be made clear, results should be publicly disclosed and there should be conflict resolution mechanisms.

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