Since the 1970s, Islamic banking has emerged as a new reality in the international financial scene. Its philosophies and principles are however, not new, having been outlined in the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) more than 1,400 years ago. The emergence of Islamic banking is often related to the revival of Islam and the desire of Muslim to live all aspects of their live in accordance with the teachings of Islam.
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The Islamic Banking System (IBS) is defined as a banking system whose principles underlying its operation and activities are founded in Islamic or Shariah rules. The main factor that distinguishes Islamic banks from conventional banks is that all transactions are administered without involving elements of interest or Riba’. The principles objective of the establishment of Islamic banking is to cater the needs of Muslims in banking transactions. The success of the Islamic bank in catering the deposit and credit needs of clients proved that Shariah principle were still applicable and could be adopted by modern-day business. In Malaysia, split Islamic legislation and banking regulations exists side-by-side with those for the conventional banking system. The legal basis for the establishment of Islamic banks was the Islamic Banking Act (IBA) which came into effect on 7 April 1983. The IBA provides Central Bank of Malaysia (BNM) with powers to supervise and regulate Islamic banks, similar to the case of other licensed banks. The Government Investment Issue (GII), which are government securities issued based on Shariah principles. As the GII are regarded as liquid assets, the Islamic banks could invest in the GII to meet the prescribed liquidity requirements as well as to invent their surplus funds. The first Islamic bank established in the country was Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad (BIMB) which commenced its operations starting from 1 July 1983. In line with its objectives, the banking activities of the bank are based on Shariah principles. After more than a decade in operations, BIMB has proved to be a practicable banking institution with its activity expanding rapidly throughout the country with a network of 112 branches. The bank was listed on the Main Board of FBM KLCI formerly known as Main Board of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange on 17 January 1992. The long-term objective of BNM is to create an Islamic banking system operating on a parallel basis with the conventional banking system. However, similar to any banking system, an Islamic banking system requires three fundamental elements to qualify as a viable system, i.e.:- A large number of players; A broad variety of instruments; and An Islamic money market. In addition, an Islamic banking system must also reflect the socio-economic values in Islam, and must be Islamic in both substance and form. Recognizing the above, BNM adopted a step-by-step approach to achieve the above objective.
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