Money and Banking
The Islamic Banking System
Imperial College of Business Studies Lahore
Submitted to: Syed Masroor Hussain
Submitted by: Faisal Mazher BaiG
slamic banking has been defined as banking in consonance with the ethos and value system of Islam and governed, in addition to the conventional good governance and risk management rules, by the principles laid down by Islamic Shariah. Interest free banking is a narrow concept denoting a number of banking instruments or operations, which avoid interest. Islamic banking, the more general term is expected not only to avoid interest-based transactions, prohibited in the Islamic Shariah, but also to avoid unethical practices and participate actively in achieving the goals and objectives of an Islamic economy.
Modern banking system was introduced into the Muslim countries at a time when they were politically and economically at a low ebb, in the late 19th century. The main banks in the home countries of the imperial powers established local branches in the capitals of the subject countries and they catered mainly to the import export requirements of the foreign businesses. The banks were generally confined to the capital cities and the local population remained largely untouched by the banking system. The local trading community avoided the “foreign” banks both for nationalistic as well as religious reasons. However, as time went on it became difficult to engage in trade and other activities without making use of commercial banks. Even then many confined their involvement to transaction activities such as current accounts and money transfers. Borrowing from the banks and depositing their savings with the bank were strictly avoided in order to keep away from dealing in interest which is prohibited by religion.
With the passage of time, however, and other socio-economic forces demanding more involvement in national economic and financial activities, avoiding the interaction with the banks became impossible. Local banks were established on the same lines as the interest-based foreign banks for want of another system and they began to expand within the country bringing the banking system to more local people. As countries became independent the need to engage in banking activities became unavoidable and urgent. Governments, businesses and individuals began to transact business with the banks, with or without liking it. This state of affairs drew the attention and concern of Muslim intellectuals. The story of interest-free or Islamic banking begins here. In the following paragraphs we will trace this story to date and examine how far and how successfully their concerns have been addressed.
The history of interest-free banking could be divided into two parts. First, when it still remained an idea; second, when it became a reality - by private initiative in some countries and by law in others. We will discuss the two periods separately. The last decade has seen a marked decline in the establishment of new Islamic banks and the established banks seem to have failed to live up to the expectations. The literature of the period begins with evaluations and ends with attempts at finding ways and means of correcting and overcoming the problems encountered by the existing banks.
Interest-free Banking as an Idea:
Interest-free banking seems to be of very recent origin. The earliest references to the reorganisation of banking on the basis of profit sharing rather than interest are found in Anwar Qureshi (1946), Naiem Siddiqi (1948) and Mahmud Ahmad (1952) in the late forties, followed by a more elaborate exposition by Mawdudi in 1950 (1961). Muhammad Hamidullah’s 1944, 1955, 1957 and 1962 writings too should be included in this category. They have all recognised the need for commercial banks and the evil of interest in that enterprise,...
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