How Ethical is Islamic Finance? UKIFC & ISRA Thematic Workshop 2018  182

Start Date : 21st February 2018
End Date : 21st February 2018
Venue : K&L Gates, One New Change, London, UK
Country : Canada
Total participant : 0
Total Interested : 0
Institution :
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Following the success of the October 2016 event on Shari’a Governance, the Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC) and the International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA) in association with K&L Gates are delighted to provide details of the 2018 Thematic Workshop which will focus on the topic of the relationship between Islamic finance and ethical finance.

The trend of positioning Islamic finance within the broader umbrella of ethical finance has gained momentum in recent years. Following Shari’a principles, it is argued Islamic finance is seen to be intrinsically interwoven with ethical finance values and strategies.

However, this view is not shared across the whole of the financial services industry. Critics of Islamic finance would challenge the notion of Islamic finance being ethical by questioning the creation of synthetic products to overcome textual restrictions with the result that the economic outcome and risk sharing profile is identical or very similar to that of conventional banks.

This conference will review and reflect on a number of key areas to explore the question of “How Ethical is Islamic Finance?”

Speakers include:

The event will cover several key themes including:

  • The Shari’a Scholar Debate - Is Islamic finance following the spirit of the law or just the letter?
  • Is Islamic Finance an ethical alternative - what social impact has it made in the past 20 years? 
  • With $40trn in SRI funds under management, is the Islamic Finance sector branded optimally? 
  • By focusing on the banking model, has Islamic Finance restricted its ability to provide more ethical and socially responsible solutions? 
  • Malaysia and UK innovation case studies – value-based intermediation and interfaith shared values framework

To view detailed agenda of the themes for the day click here.



The workshop will be attended by Islamic finance professionals from across the globe. It will be of particular interest to:

-  Financial Institutions (Islamic and Conventional)

-  ESG, SRI and impact

- based investment and advisory firms

- Rating Agencies and Shari’a Advisory Firms

- Regulators and Standard Setting Bodies, Academic Institutions and Professional Institutions

-  Audit, Legal, Compliance, Professional Services Firms




Topics covered on the day will include:

 Islamic finance: an ethical alternative?

- Definitional challenges

  • Ethical finance covers a wide range of issues and initiatives and so there is no one single definition. Islamic finance has various standard-setting bodies that have issued standards based on Shari'a principles but are these enough to enable Islamic finance practitioners, in terms of a practical day-to-day basis to be able to structure, create and offer Islamic finance products that are 'ethical' and to enable an Islamic financial institution to operate in an ethical manner?
  • - Where do they align and where are the differences?
  • 42% of 5,200 Islamic Finance News readers believe Islamic finance and ethical finance one and the same. If ethical does not mean Shari'a-compliant does Shari'a-compliant mean ethical?
  • What is the reason and the nature of interest and does it raise an 'ethical' concern?
  • Does linking them mislead what are, in reality, two very different approaches?
  • How ‘ethical’ are certain Islamic structures such as commodity murabaha and tawarruq?
  • Has Islamic finance made any real social impact on the markets it has been servicing over the past 15 years?


THE SHARI’A DEBATE: The realisation of the maqasid should produce a moral economy with a financial system that serves the needs of not only Muslims but humanity at large – Is Islamic finance following the spirit of the law or just the letter?

o Is the Islamic financial system ethical, in which areas is it meeting its ethical aspirations and where is struggling to do so?

o The practice of the Islamic financial industry appears to be focussed primarily on avoiding the legal prohibitions. By ignoring the foundational values and focussing only on legal compliance, will this approach by scholars strip the industry of its essence and spirit?

o Does the Islamic financial system provide satisfactory risk

- sharing features and serve all sections of the population thereby bringing about equity, stability and growth which it can demonstrate?

o Are Islamic banks trying to replicate interest based products as perpetuated by the predominant Western financial system causing it to compromise its own core values?

o Are the UN Sustainable Development Goals Shari’a-compliant and, if so, what should Islamic financial institutions be doing to incorporate these?


Case studies on innovation

o International perspectives: Innovative approaches from Malaysia:

§ Bank Negara Malaysia Strategy Paper on Value-Based Intermediation: Strengthening the Roles and Impact of Islamic Finance

§ Moving towards a risk- sharing paradigm, IAP Investment Account Platform – the experience so far

o UK Innovation: Developing an inter-faith shared values framework:

§ Review of the world’s first joint venture between Islamic finance and the Church seeking to create an ethical finance solution open to all in society


  • Branding is a real challenge for Islamic finance – have we named the sector all wrong?

o With $40trillion in Socially Responsible Investment funds Assets under Management, is the Islamic Finance sector missing a trick?

o Is the ‘Islamic’ brand tainted?

§ Why do Muslim countries use the words ‘non-interest’ as opposed to Islamic?

o Beyond the Muslim customer -do others see a value proposition in Islamic Finance?

§ Sheikh Saleh Kamel remarked Islamic finance should have been called ‘Abrahamic banking’ – do you agree?

o Branding a bank as ‘ethical’: compare and contrast of the approaches taken in practice by conventional and Islamic banks


  • By focusing on the banking model has Islamic finance restricted its ability to provide more ethical and social responsible solutions?

o Banks versus other models – awqaf, fintech, community co-operatives

o Are Islamic banks the right vehicle?

o Can fintech based solutions provide alternative non-bank platforms

o The role for awqaf-based sukuk




• Attracting over 100 participants and 19 local and international industry experts, the UKIFC and ISRA organised a thematic workshop, entitled

“Is the Current Model of Shari’a Governance Fit for Purpose?” in London on 26 October 2016.

• The event, hosted by K&L Gates provided a unique opportunity for leading Islamic finance experts to reflect on and respond to the increasing focus, across all financial markets, on issues of Shari’a governance, regulation and personal ethics.

• A unique scholars' session was the highlight of the event with a panel of scholars, including a female scholar, debating challenging topics around scholar remuneration, independence and risks around scholars auditing their own work.

• The Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan and a Bank of England representative provided unique insights into regulatory challenges.

• Pioneering thought leadership from the UKIFC / ISRA on “External Shariah Audit” was  launched.

• Delegate feedback included: “insightful”, “excellent”, “informative”, “panels well conducted” and “covered relevant issues”.

Click here to view highlights from our 2016 event “Is the Current Model of Shari’ah Governance Fit for Purpose?”



Event Manager:

Chris Tait, UKIFC

07931 103573



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