The Global Islamic Financial Awards

Bismillahi rahmani rahim.

Assalamu’alaikum warah matullahi wabarakatuh.


A very good evening.

Alhamdulilllah. Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds. I am grateful to Allah the Almighty for granting me this opportunity to witness the recognition of individuals and organisations that have contributed valuable time, effort and interest towards the betterment and progress of Islamic finance worldwide. This is the third year that the Global Islamic Finance Award has been held. Each year we see the evolution of the award categories; reflecting the dynamism of Islamic finance and offering us a glimpse of future opportunities in this field.

2. Islamic finance has grown tremendously from the inception of the first Islamic bank over thirty years ago to the current USD 1.3 trillion global industry[1]. Its phenomenal annualised asset growth rate of over 15 percent is proof that Islamic banking has the potential to become a major presence in the world financial market, of which it presently occupies a mere one percent. There are now over 185 Islamic commercial banks and 104 conventional banks with shariah-compliant windows worldwide[2], and this number is expected to continue to rise.


3. There are 1.6 billion Muslims globally[3]; to date, Islamic banking has reached out to only a fraction of this population. The gap between existing customers of Islamic financial institutions and the unbanked together with the under-banked segment of the population, presents huge opportunity for growth, albeit once all the challenges have been overcome. For instance, Indonesia, with a 250 million population, recognised as having the largest Muslim population in the world, is currently only represented by 4.5 percent[4] market share for Islamic banking and finance. A similar picture can be seen in Pakistan. A recent survey conducted shows that over 90 percent[5] of respondents have preference for Islamic banking. Given that the current proportion of Islamic banking in Pakistan is merely 10 percent[6] of the total banking sector, there is quite obviously huge potential for growth.

4. India is another potential market for Islamic banking, which has yet to emerge as a player in the global Islamic financial services industry. Although Muslims only comprise 14 percent of the population, the numbers add up to 177 million Muslims[7]. In addition, there was noted to be a US$300 billion gap in infrastructure funding until 2017[8]. With this size of Muslim population and this kind of funding need, the Islamic banking sector must look more seriously into breaching this potentially lucrative frontier.

5. In the African continent, South Africa has long been involved in Islamic banking along with Kenya, Senegal and Gambia. The recent issuance of a USD 62 million sukuk by the state of Osun demonstrates a strong trend in the development of Islamic financing in Nigeria.  Tonight we have with us His Excellency Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, who will confirm Nigeria’s potential in the industry.

6. It is very heartening to see that the Islamic finance sector is gaining grounds and, gradually, the confidence and acceptance of non-Muslim clientele. This confidence was further bolstered by the resilience of Islamic banks in the face of the financial crunch in 2008. For instance, the first wholly shariah-compliant retail bank, the Islamic Bank of Britain in the United Kingdom was established in 2004. By 2012, their non-Muslim savings accounts holders had reached 55 percent[9] of their total customers. The recently concluded World Islamic Economic Forum held in London, on 29th to 31st October 2013 witnessed British Prime Minister, David Cameron, announcing his government’s intention to issue a £200 million sukuk for the promotion and further strengthening of Islamic capital markets in the UK. Legislative and banking regulation reforms to support growth of Islamic financial institutions have taken place in Britain, France, Germany, South Africa and many other Muslim minority countries[10].   In September of this year, the largest Islamic bank in Europe, The Bank of London and The Middle East, announced its plans to list in the Dubai stock exchange[11].


7. In Malaysia, the dual banking system has enabled Islamic banking and conventional banking to operate concomitantly. This endeavour began as far back as 1963, when the Pilgrim’s Saving Corporation was established. In 1969, a more comprehensive establishment, the Pilgrim’s Management and Fund Board, or Tabung Haji, was set up. The objectives of this were to enable accumulation of savings for the haj pilgrimage, to provide transport, accommodation and welfare for the pilgrims during the haj and to enable Muslims to participate in shariah compliant investments through their savings[12]. In 1983, Bank Islam Malaysia began operations with a capital of RM 500 million. Today, the same bank has a capital of RM 2 billion[13]. On the whole, we now have an Islamic financial sector exceeding one-fifth of the overall financial system in the country. It not only attracts Muslims, but is also accepted among the non-Muslim population.

8. The Malaysian government has enacted a new Islamic Financial Services Act, which has been in force since July 2013. The aim was strengthen the Islamic financial services sector. With this in place, the confidence within and of Malaysia with regards to Islamic finance is high. We also have in place the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC), a dedicated, one-window solution for facilitating the establishment and management of Islamic financial institutions in the country.   While we are thankful to Allah, the Almighty, for all our successes, Malaysia is well aware that the learning curve is on-going. As we continue to learn, innovate and grow, we believe that knowledge sharing and dissemination with international players can only be mutually beneficial.

9. All these developments, on both Eastern and Western platforms, are important and are certainly going to pave the way for global recognition and promotion of Islamic banking and finance. Amidst all this, we must not forget that we all share a greater responsibility to uphold the values of Islamic banking and finance. The original objective of Islamic banking and finance was to provide a financial model based on universal values of fairness, justice and mutual sharing of benefits and risks.

10. I would like to congratulate all the winners here this evening. Your work in this field deserves the recognition that this award bestows. The Islamic banking and finance story has emerged as a phenomenon world-wide, and stakeholders have every right to celebrate it. Tonight’s event is a step in the right direction in celebrating this success story. For those present, and for those who are not, you are all contributors to the progress of the industry. You and I, we believe in the values of this great industry; and we are committed to its growth. We have made a mark just by being a part of the industry, and this is something that we are all proud of.

11. I would like to record my gratitude to the organisers for having me here at this ceremony and I commend Prof. Humayon and his team for their prodigious efforts in recognising important contributors in the development and propagation of Islamic finance worldwide. This will undoubtedly pave the way for greater and more impacting achievements in the future.


Thank you.

  1. The Banker Special Report: Top Islamic Financial Institutions (2013)
  2. Ibid.
  3. Pew Research Centre. (URL:
  4. Djauhari Sitorus. Smart Policy: Why Islamic Banks Matter in Indonesia. (URL:
  5. Yaseen Anwar, Governor, State Bank of Pakistan. Keynote address at Islamic Finance News Roadshow (August 27, 2013)
  6. Ibid
  7. Riaz Akhtar and Babita Talreja. Why India Needs Islamic Banking. Thought paper by Infosys Finacle (2012)(URL:
  8. Ibid
  9. Mark Bridge, Sharia Banks Gain Non-Muslim Customers. (September 8, 2012) The Times. (URL:
  10. Filippo di Mauro et al. Islamic Finance in Europe. European Central Bank Occasional Papers Series (June 2013) (URL:
  11. Andy Sambidge. Europe’s Biggest Islamic Bank to List on NASDAQ Dubai. Arabian Business (September 17, 2013
  12. Islamic Research and Training Institute, Jeddah. Tabung Haji as an Islamic Financial Institution: The Mobilisation of Investment Resources in an Islamic Way and the Management of Hajj(1995) (URL:
  13. URL:
%d bloggers like this: