Voice of the Cape

From the news desk

ABSA making strides in Islamic Banking

By Yaseen Kippie

Islamic financial practice in Muslim majority countries has brought about many Western banks lending an ear to accommodate for market for Muslims in Western societies. This rise, according to Islamic Finance scholar Dr Aznan Hasan, owes itself to the influence it has made on many non-Muslims searching for more ethical forms of banking.

ABSA Islamic Banking held an interactive session at the Islamia Auditorium on Monday with community role players. Dr Aznan Hasan, ABSA Shariah board scholar from Malaysia, spoke about the rise of Islamic Finance in the West, and the future of Islamic Banking in South Africa.

Dr. Aznan Hasan is an Assistant Professor in Islamic law and the former Head of Islamic Law Department, Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws, International Islamic University Malaysia. He is currently the President, Association of Shariah Advisors in Islamic Finance (ASAS).

Dr Aznan Hasan talking at Absa’s interactive Islamic Banking session with a host of Shari’ah scholars, businessmen and the community. Dr Hasan highlights the roots of modern banking in Islam, giving the example of the origin of the concept of a cheque.

VOC sat down with Dr Hasan at ABSA’s interactive session to discuss what has sparked this growing interest of Islamic Banking in Western societies.

“We always believe the Western way of doing business is superior, but we forget they learnt from us,” says Dr Hasan.

According to Dr Hasan, the colonisation of Muslim strongholds also made available the colonisation of the minds of Muslims, detracting them from the richness of their financial heritage.

“The idea of a traveller’s cheque originates from Arabs travelling for trade. The difficulty of transporting money along with their other items, gave rise to the concept of a deposit system, which issues a stamped paper. This stamp was called ‘Soqq’, which is the English word ‘cheque’, and would be presented in Syria, the merchant hub in Arabian summer, where the equivalent monies would be withdrawn.”

“We forget our history. We often think the Western form of banking is superior, but they’ve received many of their ideas from Muslims. Our form of banking, a superior form, lies beyond their bounds, as we seek to protect ourselves from the displeasure of Allah through finance.” – Dr Aznan Hasan

Dr Hasan envisions the rise of Islamic Finance in Muslim minority countries.

“Countries such as South Africa, the UK and Singapore have a lot of potential. If we manage to secure the approval of the community for Islamic Finance, it will become a very big thing.”

Dr Aznan Hasan talking about the rich heritage of Islamic Banking at ABSA’s interactive session. In attendance was MJC President Shaykh Irfaan Abrahams and UUCSA President Shaykh Ihsan Taliep.

According to Hasan, the approach to introduce Islamic Finance in South Africa is to share it with non-Muslims too.

“Islamic finance is finance that converges with the principles of Islam. These ethical principles appeals to non-Muslims too. If we can get 5% of non-Muslims in South Africa to take part in Islamic Banking, it will flourish immensely.” VOC


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