Vote Of Thanks


Fifth International Conference on Islamic Economics and Finance

Bahrain, October 7-9, 2003


His Excellency Abdulla Hasan Saif, Minister of Finance and National Economy, Kingdom of Bahrain, Her Excellency Dr. Maryam bint Hasan Ale Khalifa, President University of Bahrain, His Excellency Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, Governor, Bahrain Monetary Agency; His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, President Islamic Development Bank; His Excellency Sheikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel,

Ladies and Gentlemen

As the current President of the International Association For Islamic Economics it is my pleasant duty to propose a vote of thanks to His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, the Prime minister of Bahrain for extending his patronage and hosting this Fifth International Conference on Islamic Economics and Finance, to H.E. Abdulla Hasan Saif, Minister of Finance and National Economy who in 2000 on the occasion of the Fourth International Conference on Islamic Economics and Banking invited our Association to plan this Conference to be held in Bahrain and the University of Bahrain and the Islamic Development Bank who made strenuous efforts for making this Conference such a success as we see it today. I would also like to thank all members of Conference Committees who worked very hard. Without their dedicated efforts, we could not see such magnificent arrangements and such a rich collection of papers. I will fail in my duty if I do not put on record my deep appreciation for paper writers and discussants for their valuable contributions. It is that treasure which will keep the memories of this Conference alive for future generations.


Ladies and Gentlemen:

A quarter century ago there was no Islamic bank in Bahrain, but today Bahrain has the largest number of Islamic financial institutions not only in the Gulf but, to the best of my knowledge, anywhere in the world. The Kingdom is playing host to 26 Islamic banks and financial institutions, five industry-support organizations, six Islamic insurance companies and 34 Islamic mutual funds. This did not happen by default. The wise policies of the Government and the timely steps taken by the Bahrain Monetary Agency have been the main factors attracting the Islamic financial community. Bahrain has hosted so many conferences on Islamic finance that it can rightly claim to be the birthplace of most of the initiatives taken in the last decade. Bahrain has been as quick to learn from experiments being made in other vibrant centers of Islamic finance like Malaysia as it has been keen to teach lessons from its own experiences. Its recent innovations in Government sponsored sukuk has opened a new vista in the field of Islamic finance. Bahrain has undoubtedly become the hub of Islamic financial industry. This unique position of Bahrain in Islamic Finance Industry makes holding of this Conference an omen of good tidings for our Association’s future aspirations.


Distinguished Guests

It is no secret that behind the flowering of Islamic banking and finance and the sprouting of the nascent discipline of Islamic economics in university campuses the world over, are the untiring efforts of Islamic economists during the last half century. From its modest beginnings in the Indian subcontinent and Egypt, Islamic economics got a big boost when the First International Conference on Islamic Economics was held in Makkah Mukarramah in 1976. Attended by some three hundred shariah scholars, economists, financiers and journalists, that conference sent the clearest message that Muslims are launching a new project in the field of economics and finance,  considered till then to be a Western prerogative. The sincere efforts made by scholars and practitioners thereafter were rewarded by a rapid growth of the discipline of Islamic Economics and the Islamic financial industry. Within a decade of that event teaching of economics in Islamic perspective proliferated in Muslim universities and the practice of banking, investment and insurance in accordance with shariah spread far and wide. One factor behind this success story was the prohibition of riba in Islam which by an almost consensus of Islamic jurists covers bank interest. An interest-free way of banking was, therefore, welcome to all Muslims. But there must be something more to explain the Universities introducing Islamic economics than Muslim attraction towards interest-free banking. A general disillusionment from the two opposing ideologies of capitalism and socialism brought Islamic teachings related to economic affairs into focus. In order to capitalize on that opportunity, Muslim intellectuals developed alternative economic and financial theories and the practitioners quickly responded by experimenting with those ideas. The International Association for Islamic Economics, established in 1984 in response to a resolution of the Second International Conference on Islamic Economics held in Islamabad in 1983 was charged with the objective of further intellectual development and its dissemination, a responsibility that it has been carrying out since then with the meager resources at its disposal. The sincere efforts made by scholars and practitioners thereafter were rewarded by a rapid growth of the discipline of Islamic economics and the Islamic financial industry.


During the 20 years that have elapsed since then great strides have been made. New ideas have been germinated, new financial instruments developed, new institutions established. The Association and its leading members silently provided a helping hand. Since 1991, the Association is publishing an academic journal, “Review of Islamic Economics”. More importantly, it is closely associated with the remaining half a dozen scholarly journals in the field. During the same period, the number of seminars and conferences on Islamic Economics and Finance runs into hundreds. Not all were organized by the Association.  But the office holders of the Association were always there with their support and guidance. Under its own auspices, the Association has organized the series of International Conferences of which this one in Bahrain happens to be the fifth. The two preceding ones were held under the auspices of the University of Loughborough in the United Kingdom and the International Islamic University, Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur. If that is an indication of our linkage with seats of learning in the East as well as in the West, we have really worked hard for it. The literature produced by these Conferences remains to be the most important contribution made in the discipline and is widely quoted in academic circles. Credit must also be given to the dozens of teachers and hundreds of students, many of them eventually earning a Ph D degree, who opted for Islamic economics. As a matter of fact the academic community outnumbers the business community and financiers insofar as membership of the Association is concerned. We wish to use occasions such as this one, when both the academia and business are represented in good numbers to elicit further support for our Association by way of membership and patronage.

We are fortunate indeed that today our hosts in the Kingdom of Bahrain include both the University and the Monetary Agency. We look forward to further academic cooperation between the Association and the University of Bahrain and more joint projects between our Association and the Bahrain Monetary Agency. I am fully aware of the fact that besides the Kingdom of Bahrain’s own goodwill, it is the sincere dedication of my two predecessors as Presidents of the Association, Professor Khurshid Ahmad and Professor Mohammad Omar  Zubair that has made this Conference a reality. We thank our hosts, the Government and the people of Bahrain for this wonderful opportunity that they provided us. We also thank the Islamic Development Bank represented here by its dear President, for coming to our help whenever called upon. It is no coincidence that since its establishment, the IDB has always been our partner in organizing these International Conferences. We assure all our patrons that the trust they reposed in our Association will be valued and honored.

Ladies and Gentlemen

We have the ambition of penetrating further into the academia. One effective way of doing that is by instituting endowed chairs at some major seats of learning for teaching and research in Islamic Economics/Islamic Finance. Also scholarships to attract talented students in this field can be very effective. We have wide contacts and some experience in this regard. All that we need for making a break through are financial resources. There is also a plan for donating or subsidizing the purchase of Islamic economic literature to Universities which can go along the above two steps.

The Association aspires, through in-house research, round tables and  appropriate publications to influence the future direction of the Islamic financial industry so that it becomes poor-friendly and pays special attention to the poorest among Muslim countries and communities. This may need designing credit instruments and investment vehicles suited to the poor---a task that should not be left to the market forces as it would need some institutional support in the initial stages. The association has the network needed for   launching such a project, but it needs money.

 Last but not the least, the Association has always been a forum where East meets West in a noble joint venture to develop economics using the best in human knowledge guided by Divine principles. The Association has the wherewithal of acting as   link between Muslim academia, and the Economics profession, as also between the financial community in general and the Shariah scholars and jurists. This would entail creating special task forces and discussion groups as also sending suitable representatives to professional conferences and other events. Given the nature of our enterprise involving religion as well as business and the East as well as the West, strengthening such links can be neglected only at a great peril to the whole exercise.

Once again, your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!  Thanks for your attention, thanks for coming.


                                                         Mohammad Nejatullah Siddiqi


                                                         International Association For

                                                         Islamic Economics