5.1 What is the significance of Islamic Banking in a post recession world? Islamic banking is gaining popularity in emerging markets after helping some financial institutions avoid the worst of the economic meltdown.  Islamic banks have been less affected than many conventional banks in the current global recession.  This is mainly because unlike conventional banks, the Islamic banks have not been exposed to losses from investment in toxic assets nor have they been dependent on wholesale funds since these practices are not in accordance with the principles set out in the Sharia Law. Moreover, recent years have already indicated that there is an interest in Islamic banking beyond Islamic investors. The UK is one of the leading centres for Islamic banking in the world, yet only 5% of its population is Muslim. And lastly, governments and regulators in a variety of countries have already recognized the importance of Islamic banking as a feasible alternative to conventional banking.  The global recession brought about by the collapse in credit supply saw many of the globally accepted models of investment disappeared almost overnight with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008. It is well accepted that the credit crunch was essentially caused by gambling and inadequate regulation.  The radical change in the investment dynamics of the market and a clear question of the morality of the investment industry signify a clear turning point in the development of regional and global investment markets. That will provide new boost to the already burgeoning Islamic private equity and venture capital industries.  Thus, surely a system in which gambling is banned, where everything must be backed by tangible assets should be significant in a post recession world. In this era of scarred savers and investors, everyone shall move their money over to this low-risk system.  A post-crisis market is more realistic and searches for an ethically based approach to investment. The new investment markets, after the crash, will see a growing demand for a far more partnership approach to private equity and venture capital investment. In private equity, the investor shares both the risks and the rewards, which replicates the basic principles of Islamic investment. Even before the full attack of the global downturn, the characteristics of Islamic private equity and venture capital ensured the sectors enjoyed increasing attention from regional and global investors.  The merger of companies, as a means of meeting the operational and strategic challenges of the economic downturn, will show a growing demand for a far more partnership approach to private equity and venture capital investment. Islamic investment should be made on the basis of partnership and investment also to be made in largely infrastructure-orientated projects, such as transport, energy, healthcare and education, as these sectors not only offer asset backed investment but also long term investment into societies.  Thus, in the post recession world, where the market and society is demanding that the investment industry provide a responsible form of investment, Islamic private equity and venture capital are both ideally suited to meet this demand. 5.2 Impediments to the growth of Islamic Banking: Although the market has recognized the importance of Islamic Banking to the post recession world there are many obstacles to be overcome. The following are some of the impediments to the growth of Islamic Banking. An important deterrent to continued growth in the Islamic Banking sector is a shortage of investment outlets with acceptable risk/ reward trade-offs.  The main obstacle to the growth of Islamic banking is that various Shariah boards give contradictory rulings on the permissibility of different types of products developed within different Islamic banks. .  This causes utter confusion and misunderstanding among individual customers as to the permissibility of various products. The unfamiliarity with the Islamic Banking system and the lack of knowledge among normal consumers is a great obstacle to be overcome by Islamic banking. The lack of adequate liquidity instruments is a major hindrance in Islamic banking. For instance, treasury bills and other marketable instruments.  The lack of prescribed global standards for Islamic Finance Law is disabling the banking community to create a truly global product line.  The conventional banking system globally places huge importance on data protection and zero tolerance on money laundering. This is an example where a global standard can govern the smooth functioning of the conventional banking system. Islamic financial and banking system cannot be set up nor grown without government involvement. This is clearly evident even in predominantly Muslim countries where successive governments have a hostile attitude towards the growth of Islamic banking. The lack of awareness especially among Muslim people about the practicality and knowhow of Islamic banking is a widespread issue that needs to be addressed.  As far as conventional banking system is concerned there are some international supervisory standards and practices but in Islamic Banking no such standards or practices exists.  A major weakness in Islamic banking is that there is no lobby to persuade the regulators to make an environment suitable for the smooth functioning and development of Islamic banking.  The lack of a uniform regulatory and legal framework globally is a major drawback within Islamic banking.  The shortage of scholars and qualified managers locally and internationally shows a lack of adequate manpower to run the Islamic banking system.  The absence of a strong Branch network even among countries that have adopted the Islamic banking system shows the lack of growth and encouragement for Islamic banking.  5.3 Some suggestion for the growth of Islamic Banking: In order to operate and grow in the global market effectively, the following suggestions are desirable. The creation of a global association of Shariah boards is essential to equip various Shariah scholars with the knowledge and skills to develop new Islamic banking products and to ensure continued growth in the Islamic banking industry.  It is vital that adequate promotion of the Islamic banking industry products takes place on a regular basis in order to generate interest and loyalty from Muslims and non Muslims. The promotion of various products can take place through advertisement, awareness, road shows, speeches, programmes and various print and visual media for targeting potential customer base.  This will help to spark awareness on Islamic banking among Non Muslims as well. Though it is hard and not practicable in the near future, the banking system in various Muslim countries should transfer to the Islamic Banking system.  Please read ITC, …“Islamic Banking: A Guide for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, International Trade Corporation, Geneva, page no 46. Similar to the recent unrest in the Middle East, if one Muslim country adopts the Islamic banking industry then other countries can follow suit and reap the rewards of the Islamic banking industry. The proponents of Islamic banking must educate and negotiate with government regulators to clear some of the complexity regarding the operational viability of Islamic financial instruments in an economy and create a favourable environment for the smooth functioning of the Islamic financial system. It is essential that the latest technological developments are incorporated into Islamic banking so that Islamic banking can also provide the convenience offered by conventional banking system. Example the development of telephone and internet banking has seen a dramatic shift in the way people conduct their banking needs in the conventional banking system. Thus Islamic banking must also incorporate these ideas into their product portfolio to attract additional interest in the system and to offer convenience to the various users.  Sharing the knowledge on Islamic banking system within the countries that is working to develop the system.  The research and development effort that develops new services that is compliant with Islamic teachings needs to be improved.  Currently the research and development effort in this area is inadequate and not in a position to develop innovative products necessary for the expansion of the Islamic banking industry. For the growth of Islamic banking in the near future it is important that the existing Islamic banks form mergers with each other and form strategic alliances with other major banks like HSBC to compete on the same level similar to a bank in the conventional banking system.  5.4 Conclusion: In a nutshell, this study makes it clear that Islamic banking is not a negligible or merely temporary phenomenon. Islamic banking is an area that has mushroomed to become an increasingly substantial segment within the global financial market. It has been recognised as a viable and competitive form of financial intermediation not only in Muslim countries but also outside the Muslim world and offering a wide range of financial products and services.  Although the assets of the largest Islamic bank are equal to only 1 percent of the assets of the largest bank in the world, Islamic banking is one of the fastest growing industries, having posted double-digit annual growth rates for almost 30 years.  From the ongoing recession, we have understood that the bank’s role is no longer to give and collect money but to be a true entrepreneur who engages in the effective management of a business and share in the risks associated with the business.  Thus, in this study we have seen that in a post recession world when it comes to financing the economy, the profit loss share contracts under Islamic banking are significant because they have strict regulations as to the conduct of business activities within the company. The author believes that Mudharabah under Islamic banking can aid in minimizing defaults within the banking system due to its unique feature of profit-sharing, and thus, assist in averting a severe banking crisis situation. It can be concluded that the market for Islamic banking shows rich potential and has reached its mature stage. But as discussed throughout this study, there are several problems and challenges within Islamic banking in relation to its operations, regulations, clarity of its concepts and the practicality. All these issues must be addressed and a viable solution must be found immediately to secure the future of Islamic banking.
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