A professional researcher on India-centric socio economic and political databases Shafeeq Rahman while stating that the core system of the interest-free banking, widely termed as the Islamic Banking System, is developed by economists of the Indian subcontinent expressed surprise over the fact that the region has gained nothing from it.

“The conceptual framework of Islamic banking is mainly developed by the Islamic economists of the Indian subcontinent; in particular, the complete non-interest banking module was developed for the first time in 1969 by Nejatullah Siddiqi though the business of Islamic banking flourished in West Asian countries, Iran, Malaysia and Indonesia”, Shafeeque Rahman wrote in a recent article published in Tehelka.

Mohammad Nejatullah Siddiqui is a leading Indian Islamic scholar, whose specialisation is Islamic Economics. Author of numerous books and a recipient of the King Faisal Award for Islamic Studies, he has taught at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and the King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah. He was a Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles and Vesting Scholar at the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Jeddah.

Stating that Islamic Banking is now fast spreading its wings to other parts of the world, Shafeeque Rahman wrote, “The client network is now expanding beyond the conventional Muslim countries to European and other non-Muslim territories. In UK, it is estimated that $18.4 billion business was done by the end of 2008. According to newest Global Islamic Finance Report 2011, the Islamic finance industry is valued at $1.14 trillion and is growing at a rate of 10 per cent. It was worth a mere $150 billion in the mid-1990s.”

“Apart from Islamic banks, mainstream banks and financial institutions are opening Islamic product windows to woo Muslim consumers. For instance, HSBC has HSBC Amanah for its Islamic financial services. The governments of Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia have officially adapted to Islamic policies to run their banking and finance structure. And due to its cosmopolitan society, Malaysia follows the parallel Islamic system alongside conventional banking”, he wrote.

Shafeeque Rahman further wrote, “Banking without interest is a long term demand from Indian Muslims that has not been fulfilled so far due to the existing statutory and regulatory framework of Indian banking, which does not allow such an alternate system. Besides interest, a key point of contradiction is that conventional banks in India facilitate only intermediary services while banks have to be involved in trading and business activities in the Islamic banking system. Indian Muslims have seen several unsuccessful experiments in the unorganised sector and through the registration of NBFCS and cooperatives but the lack of government regulatory supervision has led to the failure of major interest-free banking initiatives.”

“The non-availability of an interest-free banking option has distanced many Muslims from banking products and services. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data report for March 2010 indicates that banking participation in Muslim- concentrated districts is below the national average. They lack in banking access, infrastructure availability and low credit-deposit (CD) ratio”, he wrote.

Islamic Banking believed to be an interest-free, participatory and ethical banking system, has been an emerging global paradigm of the banking system since the last quarter of the twentieth century. The essential feature of Islamic banking is the prohibition of taking and giving of interest in all form of banking and financial transaction. In place of an assured return on loan amount by the interest rate in the conventional banking system, the Islamic form of financing advocates the profit-loss sharing module. Taking a risk is the only provision that entitles one to profit, if there is no risk of loss then there is no assurance of profit to the depositor or the financer.