10th International Shari’ah Scholars Forum (ISSF 2015)
Kuala Lumpur, November 3-4 – The International Shariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance organized its tenth annual International Shariah Scholars Forum (ISSF 2015) in collaboration with the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) of the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah. The forum was held at the Westin Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The main theme for ISSF 2015 was “Strengthening the Global Connectivity of the Islamic Finance Industry: Reality and Prospects”. The forum was attended by numerous world-renowned Shariah scholars, senior industry practitioners and academicians who shared their views and experiences regarding the theme. Among the scholars who participated in the forum were:
- Sheikh Datuk Dr. Mohd. Daud Bakar
- Sheikh Prof Dr Mohamad Akram Laldin
- Sheikh Dr. Abdul Rahman al-Atram
- Sheikh Dr Hussain Hamed Hassan
- Sheikh Prof Dr. Mohammad Ali Elgari
- Sheikh Prof Dr Ali Muhyiddin al-Qaradaghi
- Sheikh Nizam Ya’quby
- Sheikh Dr al-Ayyashi Feddad
- Sheikh Prof Dr Khidir Ali Idrees
- Assoc. Prof Dr. Said Bouheraoua
- Dr Mohamad Fairooz Abdul Khir
- Dr. Sa’id Adekunle Mikail
- Sheikh Dr Ahmed al-Haddad
- Sheikh Dr Osaid Adib Kailani
- Sheikh Dr Bashir Aliyu Umar
- Sheikh Dr Oni Sahroni
- Sheikh Dr Abdullah Yusof al-Judai’
- Sheikh Dr Hamed Hassan Merah
- Sheikh Abdul Kader Amor
- Prof Datuk Dr Rifaat Ahmed Abdel Karim
- Prof Dr. Engku Rabiah al-Adawiyah
- Dr Marjan Muhammad
- Dr. Sami Suweilim
- Assoc. Prof Dr Aznan Hasan
- Dr. Abdul Bari Mashal
- Assoc. Prof Dr Younes Soualhi
- Assoc Prof Dr Ahcene Lahsasna
- Ustaz Burhanuddin Lukman
The two-day forum commenced with a recitation of some verses from the Quran followed by welcoming remarks by the executive director of ISRA, Prof. Dr. Mohamad Akram Laldin and by Dr. al-Ayashi Faddad, Senior Researcher at the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI). The keynote speech for the first day was delivered by Sheikh Prof Dr. Mohamad Ali Elgari highlighting the urgency to strengthen the global connectivity of the Islamic finance industry.
The forum continued with the first session. The theme for this session was “The Shariah Framework and the Global Connectivity of the Islamic Finance Industry”. The topic of the papers presented was “Closing the Gaps between Differing Shariah Rulings: Achievements and Challenges”.
In the afternoon, Yang Berhormat Senator Dato’ Dr. Asyraf Wajdi Bin Dato’ Dusuki, Deputy Minister in The Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs), officially opened the ISSF 2015 and launched the ISRA-Thomson Reuters Islamic Commercial Law Report 2016.
The opening ceremony was followed by the second session of ISSF which dealt with the legal and regulatory framework and the efforts of local and international bodies in strengthening the global connectivity of the Islamic finance industry. The speakers in this session discussed the roles of Bank Negara Malaysia, the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), and the International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM).
The second day of the forum started with the second keynote speech, delivered by Sheikh Dr Hussain Hamed Hassan on “Structuring Islamic Financial Products: Developments and Prospects”. The speech was then followed by the third session of ISSF, which focused on the research and training framework in strengthening the global connectivity of the Islamic finance industry. The roles and experience of IRTI, ISRA and INCEIF were discussed in this session.
The fourth session dealt with the framework for developing products to strengthen the global connectivity of the Islamic financial industry.
The final session was an open dialogue with the scholars. In this session, the panellists further discussed the prospects and challenges in the global connectivity of the Islamic finance industry.
At the end of the programme, Sheikh Dr al-Ayyashi Feddad, representing IRTI, the co-organiser of ISSF 2015, read out the resolutions of this year’s forum. This was followed by the closing remarks of Prof Dr Mohamad Akram Laldin, the executive director of ISRA, who expressed his heartfelt gratitude and sincere appreciation to those who contributed to the success of the forum.
The resolutions of ISSF 2015 are as follows:
First: Regarding ISSF itself:
- ISSF 2015 proposes to set up a committee to evaluate the past ten years of ISSF, and to put forward a plan for the next ten years.
- Coordination with relevant parties, including individuals and organisations, to further strengthen the ISSF.
- Open more collaboration with other parties in organising the ISSF.
Second: Regarding Differing Fatwas and Their Effect on Strengthening the Global Connectivity of the Islamic Finance Industry
- Differing views and fatwas are positive phenomena if they are based on the principles of ijtihad in the Shariah.
- It is advisable to work on closing the gaps in fatwas in order to prevent contradictions in practical application and also to harmonise between the fatwas and the financial products.
- Efforts are needed to further develop and strengthen Shariah governance in the Islamic finance industry.
- ISSF 2015 also recommends the establishment of a supreme council by supporting organisations such as AAOIFI, IFSB, IDB and CIBAFI, together with the International Fiqh Academy and IDB. This council would have its own Shariah board and other technical boards. Its resolutions would be endorsed by the International Fiqh Academy in its position as the highest Shariah reference for Muslim countries.
Third: Regarding Research Institutes on Islamic Economics and Islamic Finance
- Effort should be made to cooperate on major projects and to plan research for the next ten years by identifying gaps that need to be filled and prioritizing them.
- There is a need for cooperation in appraisal studies and in developing mechanisms to rate research on Islamic economics and finance.
- We call for the establishment of new research institutions for Islamic economics to pursue objectives and study areas that the existing research institutions are not dealing with in order to bring added value to the academic research.
- Mechanisms should be established for competition among research institutions within a cooperative framework with the objective of improving their end products.
Fourth: Regarding Products
- Innovative solutions should be found for the Islamic finance industry, especially in the area of sukuk and working towards partnership-based financial instruments.
- We call for the study of successful international models of financing that are close to Islamic financing based on partnership or any interest-free financing modes.
- Special attention should be given to Islamic sukuk as they are the most effective financial instruments in realizing global connectivity at the supervisory level and in the capital markets.
- Special attention should also be given to the products of the charitable sectors, particularly the zakah and waqf institutions. It is recommended that next year’s Forum be about establishing an international institution to coordinate between zakah organisations.
- Work should be done on binding terms of reference for the members of Shariah boards of Islamic financial institutions.
- A working committee should be formed to lay down the principles of fatwa to ensure its stability and its linkage to other relevant areas such as legal, accounting and risk management.
- Work should be done on a mechanism to coordinate between Shariah boards in order to establish rules regarding governance of the boards and conflict of interest. The ISSF 2015 invites ISRA, IRTI, AAOIFI, IFSB and CIBAFI to propose a mechanism for its implementation.