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December 14, 2007

CIMA launches Islamic finance qualification in the UK

CIMA launches Islamic finance qualification in the UK

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) launched its global qualification in Islamic finance this month in response to an increase in demand for Islamic banking in the UK.

CIMA will become the first accountancy body in the UK to train its members in Islamic financial law, which accounts for 1 percent to 2 percent of the financial global services industry and is worth up to £250 billion ($500 billion) worldwide, according to the UK Financial Services Authority. This figure is predicted to grow at a rate of 15 percent to 20 percent.

CIMA director of education Robert Jelly said the institute developed the qualification in recognition of demand from the global business community. He added: “The CIMA Islamic Finance qualification will assist employers in the City of London and other major financial centres throughout the world in equipping their employees to develop financial products.”

CIMA’s qualification is available at certificate level and comprises four modules: Islamic commercial law; Islamic banking and takaful (insurance); Islamic capital markets and instruments; and accounting and analysis of Islamic financial institutions. It is estimated that a student can complete these modules in two to six months, depending on their experience.

Islamic finance is an ethical mode of financial services derived principally from Sharia (Islamic law) and the teachings of the Koran. Its most distinctive element is the prohibition of interest, whether nominal or excessive. Other elements include the emphasis on equitable contracts, the linking of finance to productivity, the desirability of profit sharing and the prohibition of gambling and certain types of uncertainty.

CIMA’s qualification has been developed alongside these principles, with detailed input from the International Institute of Islamic Finance chief executive Mohd Daud Bakar, a renowned Sharia scholar. He said Islamic finance is “based on principles of equitable risk and returns and remove interest from being the focus of financial transactions”. Bakar added: “This promotes direct investments in the real economy and provides opportunities and mechanisms for participation from both institutional as well as the retail sectors. Islamic finance endorses industries that maintain the well-being of society at large while staying clear of industries such as gambling and weaponry.”

Previously, Islamic banking was restricted to specialist Islamic banks in the UK and some British Muslims found it difficult to find banking practices that would not conflict with their religion. However, in the past five years there has been a rapid rise in the provision of these services. Large firms, such as Deloitte UK, have also appointed Sharia scholars to improve their Islamic Finance practices.

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