Firstly, a sincere JazakAllah khayran to all our readers, commenters, and supporters. Over the last three years this portal has doubled year-on-year in traffic and is on course to hit 40k this year. We have grown into a well-visited and thriving hub for Islamic economic and financial discussions and debates – and this is in large part down to you guys and your contributions. Please do keep your comments, questions, requests, and emails coming – we genuinely enjoy engaging with your variegated and interesting situations.
Some of you may have noticed that my output over the past few months has decreased. This is as I have been studying for, and sitting my Alimiyyah exams. Alhamdulilah, I graduated last week after 6 years of ongoing study. At the end of it all though, I genuinely realise how much more there is to learn still, how little I know of the vast ocean that is Islamic knowledge, and how important it is that the learning goes on.
But now it’ll go on at my own pace, and so I will have more time to devote to producing new IFG material in the coming weeks and months!
There are two important developments you as readers need to be aware of as we move into the next phase of IFG’s journey.
A Roadmap of Discovery
I plan to embark upon a personal journey of discovery, critique, distillation, and curation of the classical Islamic law texts and cutting edge modern research relevant to the field of Islamic economics and finance. This journey is driven by the same motivation that drove the setting up of IFG in the first place: to stimulate my own learning, and to start an intelligent and sincere discussion within the British Islam about what a truly Godly financial system looks like and how a Godly person manages their personal finances.
There are things missing in Islamic discourse on economics and finance that are glaring and must be addressed head-on if we are truly to get to the bottom of what Allah wants from us in this sphere. The missing ingredients as per my preliminary review are:
- Understanding the financial system. The financial system is highly technical and secretive in nature with most deals done behind closed doors with all terms confidential. That makes understanding it difficult – but that is precisely what we must do. It is also highly interconnected, far more than we can comprehend, and any overarching Islamic theory of economics and finance must cater for this previously unknown phenomenon (the modern financial system has only emerged in its current form since the deregulation in the 1970s). Finally, the system is an ever-shifting beast, with transactions constantly taking place, money flowing across borders, and regulation and legislation developing. This previously unknown complexity and fluidity is again something that must be catered in our discourse.
- Understanding what Islam says about finance, economics, and trade. This is something most scholar do know, but all IF professionals could vastly improve their performance and understanding by doing some basic IF studies. The scholars too, should make sure they read broadly and know the perspectives of multiple schools on financial issues, not just their own school’s position, and the more senior scholars should have the courage to work from first principles and use their own ijtihad.
- Making sense of what Islam says (2 above) in light of a proper understanding of our current financial system (1 above). This is the core premise which will drive IFG’s output in the coming months and years.
- Practically, this means we will be exploring at least the following developments which have a deep bearing on Islamic financial law:
- The nature of money
- The changing venue of transactions – from in-person to online to the dark net
- Big data and uncertainty
- National and international regulation
- Interconnected and smart transactions/contracts
5. Finally, perhaps many years from now, I can start formulating guidance on what an Islamic financial system would look like and how to get there.
That all sounds very theoretical and idealistic, but one of my key objectives will be to explore each of these topics with a firmly practical and day-to-day hat on, so that the average reader can benefit just as much as an academic.
Consultancy & Advisory
The other big development is the launch of our new website and our Consultancy and Advisory service.
Over the past three years, hundreds of people have got in touch with us, and for a good number of those people, we could only give basic advice, as their question or problem was a complicated one. It required research into UK law, regulation, and Islamic law for example, or required a fair bit of commercial analysis and reading-in.
With the launch of our consultancy and advisory service, in collaboration with our network of scholars and muftis, we are now for the first time able to properly address the needs of those we previously couldn’t. So if you are thinking of setting up an IF business, or need Shariah-compliance assistance on an investment, or are trying to structure a transaction in an Islamic manner, we now have the resources to assist you inshAllah.