Islamic Finance in Western Higher Education: Developments and Prospects

  • Book Title:
 Islamic Finance In Western Higher Education
  • Book Author:
Abderrazak BelabesAhmed BelouafiCristina Trullols
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  • ·         Glossary of Select Arabic Terms xxxiv
  • Introduction
  • Ahmed Belouafi, Abderrazak Belabes and Cristina Trullols
  • Part I Islamic Finance Higher Education: Cartography
  • Research in Islamic Economics and Finance: The State
  • of the Art and an Agenda for Academic Cooperation
  • Olivia Orozco de la Torre
  • Islamic Finance Higher Education at a Glance:
  • A Global Picture
  • Ahmed Belouafi and Abderrazak Belabes
  • Islamic Finance Higher Education in a Complex World
  • Ahmed Belouafi, Abderrazak Belabes and Mohamed Daoudi
  • Islamic Finance Education in the UK: Opportunities and Challenges
  • Islamic Finance Education in France: An Unexpected
  • Surge
  • Abderrazak Belabes and Ahmed Belouafi
  • Islamic Finance Education in Italy: Current Trends
  • Valentino Cattelan
  • Islamic Finance Education at the Top Ten
  • Business Schools louafi, Abderrazak Belabes and Cristina Trullols
  • Part II Islamic Finance Higher Education in the West: Cases and Experiments
  • Islamic Finance at Henley Business School,
  • Reading University
  • Simon Archer
  • Islamic Finance Education at La Trobe University
  • Ishaq Bhatti
  • Islamic Finance in Reims Management School
  • Ghassen Bouslama
  • Islamic Finance at Newcastle University
  • Abdul Karim Aldohni
  • Islamic Finance at Bangor University
  • Philip Molyneux
  • Islamic Finance at Markfield Institute of Higher Education
  • Toseef Azid and Tariq Saeed
  • Islamic Finance at Strasbourg University
  • Ibrahim Zeyyad Cekici
  • Islamic Finance at Leuven University
  • Reza Zain Jaufeerally
  • Islamic Finance at Liverpool Hope University
  • Adel Ahmed
  • Part III Islamic Finance Higher Education in the West: Research and Other Initiatives
  • Islamic Finance at Harvard University
  • Nazim Ali
  • Islamic Finance in Sorbonne
  • Kader Merbouh and Pierre-Charles Pradier
  • Islamic Banking and Finance Teaching and
  • Supervision at Westminster Business School
  • Abdelhafid Benamraoui
  • The Saudi-Spanish Centre for Islamic Economics
  • and Finance at IE Business School
  • Ignacio de la Torre
  • Conclusion
  • Ahmed Belouafi, Abderrazak Belabes and Cristina Trullols
  • Index
  • ·         List of Figures and Tables
  •  Phases, trends and schools in the development of
  • the Islamic economic paradigm
  • The number of IFEPs introduced per year in the
  • world from through
  • The number of IFEPs introduced per year in the
  • Western world from through
  • Distribution of IFEPs by continents (value)
  • Distribution of IFEPs by continents (%)
  • Distribution of IFEPs by economic blocs (value)
  • Distribution of IFEPs by economic blocs (%)
  • Attractiveness of IFEPs by countries (number of
  • programmes)
  • Distribution of IFEPs by language in the world (%)
  • Distribution of IFEPs by language in the West (%)
  • Distribution of IFEPs among English-speaking countries
  • Distribution of IFEPs among French-speaking countries
  • Distribution of IFEPs by level of study (number)
  • Distribution of IFEPs by level of study (%)
  • Distribution of IFEP by titles of Master’s degrees
  • (number)
  • Distribution of IFP by titles of Master’s degrees (%)
  • Distribution of IFEPs by the mode of education in
  • the world (%)
  • Distribution of IFEPs by the mode of education
  • in the West (%)
  • Educational attractiveness in IF by continents
  • Educational attractiveness in IF by country
  • Educational competitiveness in IF
  • vii
  • viii List of Figures and Tables
  • Dynamics of educational competitiveness by country   
  • Temporal dynamics of IFEP creation in France               
  • Five key principles                                                                      
  • Procedure for acquiring approval from faculty                 
  • Applicants with an undergraduate university degree    
  • For existing postgraduates with Master of Financial Analysis degree          
  • For existing postgraduates with Master of Accounting and Financial Management degree
  • Student enrolments in –                                                           
  •                 Average weights of Islamic Finance courses in La Trobe University            
  • Islamic Finance students in terms of nationality             
  • Number of domestic students in terms of unit                 
  • Number of international students in terms of unit         
  • Gender group of MIBF graduates ()                                     
  • Age group of MIBF graduates ()                                            
  • Domestic vs international graduates                                   
  • Islamic Finance Professional Development course         
  •                 Average academic record for Islamic Finance core subjects            
  • MIBF graduates                                                                           
  • Weighted average mark of MIBF                                           
  • Career outcomes of MIBF graduates                                    
  • Tables                                                                                                

Preliminary information about theses in some British universities              

  •                 Classification of surveyed degrees in IF awarded in English, French and Arabic worlds       
  •                 Institutions that have been involved in establishing IFEPs since the year  
  • Combinational analysis of IF education                              
  •  Medium of instruction of IF in non-conventional
  • situations
  • IFEPs in France
  • French IFEPs provided abroad
  •  Top Ten business schools offering Islamic
  • Finance courses
  • Master of Islamic Banking and Finance – old
  • curriculum
  • Master of Islamic Banking and Finance – new
  • curriculum
  • Prior learning and experience
  • Regression model summary
  •  Modules of Islamic Finance at MIHE
  • Basic programme description of Islamic Finance
  • at Liverpool Hope University
  • Programme details of Islamic Finance at
  • Liverpool Hope University
  •  Cross-reference of skill indicators and
  • subject benchmarks

Islamic Finance at Harvard University

Historical perspective

Founded in 1636, Harvard University is America’s oldest university and one of the most respected centres of higher education and research in the world. Harvard attracts an array of talented students and scholars. It houses the largest library collections of any academic institution in the world.

Since the establishment of the Harvard Islamic Society in 1955, the University has continued to reemphasize its liberal attitude towards the study of Islam and other religions within a serene but academically challenging environment. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in studying Islam.

The Harvard Divinity School, Near Eastern Languages Civilization Department, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Islamic Legal Studies Program (ILSP), the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, the Islam in the West Program, and most recently, the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program demonstrate the breadth of coverage in these fields across the university’s various schools and disciplines.

Meanwhile, the emergence of Islamic Finance (IF) services as a distinct field of inquiry is a welcome addition to this landscape. Harvard’s first foray in this field was the Islamic Investment Study, which concluded with the 1998 publication of Islamic Law and Finance: Religion, Risk, and Return by Harvard professors Frank E. Vogel and Samuel Hayes III. The University’s most significant investment in this area, however, has been the longstanding Islamic Finance Project (IFP), a research programme that emerged from the growing interest in IF among members of the Harvard community in the mid-1990s.

The IFP was founded by the Harvard University Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) in 1995. The IFP became part of the ILSP at Harvard Law School in 2003. As the only Ivy League project of its kind, the IFP studies the field of IF from a legal perspective by analysing contemporary scholarship, encouraging collaboration among scholars within and outside of the Muslim world, and increasing the interaction between theory and practice in the IF industry.

The IFP is involved in the study of an interdisciplinary subject, draw- ing broadly from a variety of fields, and has relationships with profes- sors and students at several Harvard institutions including the Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, Harvard Divinity School, the Kennedy School of Government and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. IFP organizes academic forums, bringing together scholars and experts in law, finance, economics, and traditional Islamic ethics and law (fiqh), to engage leading thinkers in a robust, interdisciplinary dialogue.

The IFP has become a leading research programme in the field of IF services. For scholars at Harvard and beyond, IFP serves as a research centre that collects and provides information on IF services that con- nects researchers to a network of resources in the field. For industry professionals, it offers a valuable platform to increase awareness on IF services, to stimulate research and development, and to manage debates about the future direction of the industry.

These ongoing efforts by the IFP underscore the fundamental need for continued exchange between academia and IF practitioners. Indeed, this dialogue has proven to be instrumental in the development of key areas in the field.

The writings of Islamic economists in the 1950s and 1960s, for example, inspired the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), while other intellectual visionaries transformed those ideas into practice by establishing what would lead to the current state of Islamic Banking (IB). The establishment of the first modern institutional Islamic bank, the Islamic Development Bank in 1975, was closely followed by that of the Dar Al Maal Islami Group, Dubai Islamic Bank, Al-Rajhi Investment Company, Dallah Albaraka Group, and Kuwait Finance House.

IF, however, remains overall a fairly niche industry. As it matures, it will undergo periods of change and self-reflection. This has certainly been the case in the process of business development, where some prod- ucts offered by the industry have received criticism for departing from the maqasid al Shari’ah (Shari’ah objectives). Some products have been accused of being obsolete or irrelevant, or straying from the value-added goals of societal equity and fairness. These concerns emphasize the need to maintain, if not expand, the vital link between research and tangible developments in the field.

In this light, the purpose of this chapter is to present and discuss the activities that have emerged at Harvard institutions over the period of 17 years since the inception of the IFP, and to show the relevance of these initiatives to the broader understanding and research of the IF industry.

Objectives of the Islamic Finance project

Since its inception, the Project has grown larger in scope and has come to be recognized as one of the leading centres for the study of Islamic Economics (IE), IB and IF. As a multidimensional research project the IFP intends:

  1. To promote research and development in the field of Islamic Finance: One of the missions of the IFP is to encourage the study of IF and IE across all of the schools and programmes within the University. Because of it is interdisciplinary nature, the study of IF brings together various Harvard departments and faculties. In conjunction with this goal, the IFP produces scholarly monographs and reports, including a compendium of the leading papers brought to its yearly conferences. The IFP produces both print publications and reports available as e-resources via the Project’s website. The IFP works to assist research- ers in their scholarly pursuits, including the development of theses, dissertations and other research reports.
  2. To develop the IFP DataBank, an electronic database on Islamic Finance: The first of its kind, the DataBank has filled a niche role, serving as an online tool for the dissemination of bibliographic data in the field. The IFP contacts institutions that engage in IF research as well as researchers in the field to advance the acquisition and coordina- tion of information. The DataBank’s approach is encyclopaedic in scope, while striving to remain accessible to a general readership. In accordance with this mindset, the IFP is continually trying to create a more user-friendly interface in the layout of the DataBank. The DataBank aims to assist academics, researchers and professionals who require relevant academic information related to IE and IF and that pertains to Shari’ah rulings and sources.
  3. To foster an increased understanding of Islamic Finance between the Islamic and non-Islamic worlds as well as between industry and academia: The IFP fosters dialogue and innovation in the field by organizing seminars, workshops, panel discussions, roundtables, and confer- ences. The Project monitors developments and emerging trends in the IF industry and invites practitioners to discuss them in the form of seminars or workshops. The structured exchange of ideas between scholars and practitioners at the Harvard Forum and at private IFP workshops enables constructive debate and a longer-term view of the IF services industry. For industry professionals, it offers a valuable platform to increase awareness of IF services, to stimulate research and development, and to manage debates about the future direction of the industry.
  4. To foster faculty and student interest in the field by sponsoring workshops and courses on Islamic Finance in cooperation with other programmes: As part of its mission, the IFP develops seminars, workshops and panel discussions to encourage faculty and student participation. The Project works with faculty in developing course material into which an IF and IE component could be introduced. The IFP works with various faculty members in developing case studies, projects and lectures pertaining to IF and IE. The IFP has assisted students with their theses and provided career-counselling services for students seeking to forge career paths in IF. IFP activities attract students and researchers who often turn to the IF industry for career opportunities in IF services.
  5. To assist governmental bodies seeking to understand the dynamics of this new global market and to create awareness and understanding of IF princi- ples and trends: The IFP has organized seminars and panel discussions to discuss IF regulation by inviting various regulatory bodies and IF providers to bridge the gap between industry and academia and cre- ate better understanding. The IFP has worked with the US Treasury, Federal Reserve Bank and other regulatory agencies to facilitate a better understanding of IF. Through its public lectures, newsletters, and other publications, the IFP seeks to disseminate information and create understanding of IF and IE within academia, industry, and the general readership.

An overview of major Islamic Finance Project initiatives

Over the last 17 years, the subject of IF has attracted growing interest among academics, students and professionals around the globe. In light of this interest, the IFP has undertaken numerous initiatives to meet the growing demand for information.

The DataBank project, one of the pioneering efforts of the IFP, was launched  by the  IFP in early  1995. It was  closely followed by  First Harvard University Forum on IF in 1997, an initiative that gained industry recognition as one of the most important conferences to discuss current issues in IF.

In 2006, the IFP began to host another initiative that focused on the contributions of two major players in the industry: Shari’ah scholars and Islamic economists. This event, which emerged as the Harvard-London School of Economics (LSE) workshop, has been held yearly in London since 2006 and serves as a forum to discuss methodological issues confronting the industry. The event includes several seminars, panel discussions and public lectures to address trends emerging from the industry, all of which are documented by active publications. The first book based on the LSE workshop was published in 1999 as Proceedings of the Second Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance. Since then, the Project has published seven books and several papers and reports, including the famous monograph authored by Frank Vogel and Samuel Hayes titled Islamic Law and Finance: Religion, risk and return.

Lastly, a number of courses have been offered regularly at Harvard Law School dealing with Islamic contracts and other related areas.

1. The IFP Databank: Academic research often involves the dual task of data collection and systematic analysis. The Harvard Islamic Finance Information Program (HIFIP) has sought to further research in IF, IE and related Shari’ah issues at both ends of this process. The IFP’s first major undertaking at Harvard was the development of the IFP DataBank, the then most comprehensive database of the IF services industry. The IFP continues to manage and develop the Publications, Shari’ah and Glossary components of this database, now as the IFP DataBank on the Project’s website. Over 10,000 original records can be accessed free of charge by researchers from around the world.

In the field of IF and investment, information is scattered across various sources and is not easily accessible. In fact, information is largely unavailable to most researchers because it comes from pri- mary contacts in the industry and is published privately or obscurely. This difficulty hampered the Islamic Investment Study conducted during 1994–8 by Frank Vogel of Harvard Law School and Samuel L. Hayes III of Harvard Business School. The experience that emerged from this difficulty provided the driving idea behind the creation of the IFP DataBank in 1995: to provide a comprehensive resource that was universally accessible. In the 17 years of its existence, the IFP DataBank has become a well-established research tool and the largest source of information available to researchers worldwide on all aspects of IF.

Islamic Finance at Harvard University

A large proportion of IFP activity centres on the compilation, maintenance, and technical development of the IFP DataBank. Information in the DataBank is collected continuously by Harvard students who obtain primary and secondary sources of information on the field by scouring libraries, published government materials, Internet sources, and the 200 institutions in the IF field with which the IFP has contacts.

2. Project website: The IFP website ( is kept up-to-date with event notices and announcements. The website has been expanded to include summaries of and reports from important events such as the biannual Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance, annual workshops, and specialized seminars, which can be downloaded from the website. The IFP is also in the process of pro- viding access to full papers published from previous Forums.

Forums, seminars and other events

Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance

The IFP has regularly organized and hosted the Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance since 1997. It is unique among industry con- ferences for its academic aspect and its ability to bring together practi- tioners, academics and Shari’ah scholars in order to discuss and debate the direction of the industry.

The Harvard Forum grew during its ten conferences from a small one- day affair to a major multisession international conference that brings together the latest research in academia, contemporary developments in the industry, and leading analyses by academics and government offi- cials. The IFP has published the proceedings from each Forum (with the exclusion of the first), serving as a resource for both scholars and profes- sionals. As it has become more established, the Forum has also fostered a sense of community among researchers while promoting healthy debate and collaboration between academics, practitioners and institutions.

The Harvard Forum serves as a magnet for all types of individuals in the field of IF. Among the many attendees have been bankers, econo- mists, Shari’ah scholars, financial analysts, attorneys, legal practitioners, management professionals, professors and students. On average, more than 200 people have attended each conference, with many others fol- lowing the programme electronically and purchasing the proceedings.

The Forums, with their comprehensive approach to exploring the ideals, practice, and prospects of the industry, monitor the develop- ment of IF while analysing trends and future opportunities. The presentations have dealt with Shari’ah perspectives, investments and financial products, new opportunities and directions, and other aspects of economics, finance, and development. Forums have provided a broad range of resources including introductory programmes for newcomers and discussions of sensitive and critical issues such as Islamic jurispru- dence, governmental regulation, product development, and ethics.

The IFP has remained committed to keeping the Forums as accessible as possible. The Forum has reduced registration fees for those with lim- ited funds. A free and public presentation entitled ‘Workshop on Islamic Finance for Newcomers’ was also made available at the Fourth and Fifth Forums. The sessions aimed to introduce IF to those who had little or no prior exposure to the field. Beyond members of the Harvard commu- nity, other students and members of the Boston-area community have also been a significant presence at each Forum.

The Forum is also unique in devoting at least one entire session to Shari’ah, or Islamic law. Every year, jurists in fiqh al-mu’amalat (the branch of Islamic law dealing with economic and financial matters) have addressed the Forum audience and presented papers. Other ses- sions have covered IE, IF, and the practice of IF by financial institu- tions. In 2006, the Roundtable was established as a biannual event. The IFP has since introduced a specialized session on Current Academic Research in Islamic Finance, to further encourage graduate students to present papers based on a recently completed Doctoral or Master’s thesis in IE and IF.

Previous forums are listed next and the details of these forums may be found online at

  • Tenth Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance: Islamic Finance and Development (2012)
  • Ninth Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance: Building Bridges Across Financial Communities (2010)
  • Eighth Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance: Innovation and Authenticity (2008)
  • Seventh Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance: Integrating Islamic Finance in the Mainstream – Regulation, Standardization and Transparency (2006)
  • Sixth Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance: Islamic Finance: Current Legal and Regulatory Issues (2004)
  • Fifth Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance: Islamic Finance: Dynamics and Development (2002)
  • Fourth Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance: Islamic Finance: The Task Ahead (2000)

 216 Islamic Finance at Harvard University

  • Third Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance: Local Challenges,

Global Opportunities (1999)

  • Second Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance: Islamic Finance into the 21st Century (1998)
  • First Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance: Islamic Finance in the Global Market (1997)

Harvard–London School of Economics Workshops

The IFP, in partnership with the LSE, has been organizing specialized workshops and public lectures on methodological issues confronting the IF industry on a yearly basis since 2007. The principal impetus for these workshops is to fill the conversational void between two of the professional groups integral to the evolution of IF: Shari’ah scholars and Islamic economists.

The workshops also bring other partners, legal experts, regulators and industry leaders who are involved in day-to-day operations. Six workshops have been held in the past on a variety of issues: Islamic Financial Intermediation: Revisiting the Value Proposition Workshop (2012); Reappraising the Islamic Financial Sector (2011); Islamic Financial Ethics and Ethical Governance (2010);

The Evolution of the Global Financial System from the Current Crisis (2009); Risk Management: Islamic Economic and Ethico-Legal Perspective on Risk Management (2009); Microfinance: Toward a Sustainable Islamic Finance Model (2008); Sukuk: Economic and Jurisprudential Perspectives (2008); and TAWARRUQ: A Methodological Issue in Shari’a-Compliant Finance (2007). Details of these workshops may also be found online at the IFP website (http:/

Public lectures

The LSE has hosted public lectures on IF with the IFP’s assistance since 2007. The purpose of these public lectures is to create a better understand- ing of IF and to educate people about the misconceptions surrounding the IF

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