Islamic Finance today has come of age. It has crisis after crisis proven its
worth and resilience and weathered the storm so to say. It has shown
the world that banking can be both ethical and equitable.

As Rosie Kmeid notes in our cover story Islamic Banking: The Comeback
growing awareness of Islamic religious principles among Muslims is
driving the industry forward, more so as these regions from Asia to
Africa have the fastest growing populations in the world.

High savings rates in South Asia particularly is another positive
development that stands the industry in good stead in the coming
years. In Africa, conventional banks have failed to reach out to what
they believe to be unbankable people and this offers another golden
opportunity for Islamic banks and financial institutions to penetrate
where no bank has penetrated before, uplift these sections and
mutually enjoy the dividends.

However, the sector despite its many inroads has only tapped the tip of
the iceberg, so to speak. Its potential is many times more than we see
today. So what’s stopping it from reaching even greater heights? The
answer is a very simple one, although very often lost on us – It is a lack
of awareness and neglect of publicity or positive press.

Yes, we in the Muslim world very much tend to underestimate the
power of media and its ability to change minds and win hearts. We
often look upon the press as an intrusive force with negative
connotations rather than a force for good which can contribute
positively to society. This attitude has to change if we are to make any
headway, not only in this sector, but in life generally.

The fact is that the Islamic Banking and finance sector has nothing to be
ashamed of and everything to be proud of. It has despite its many uphill
struggles stood loyally to the ethical values of not only Islam, but of all
faiths which are united in condemning the exploitation of man by man.
In short, it has kept the faith.

Success can only come with winning hearts to the cause and the best
way to reach out to all the untapped masses is through media channels
whose reach is more far-reaching than we can ever imagine. Media
pervades every home today and influences many of the choices we
make. To underestimate it is folly.

Thus the next step for Islamic finance would be the creation of
awareness through the media. This is the one great challenge it needs
to take up and persevere in for as long as the sector lasts. Who knows –
it may lead to its biggest leap forward!

Asiff Hussein
Islamic Finance Today

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