By Isaac Anumihe
Rising interest in Islamic financing across the world has lifted the industry’s assets by about 20 per cent to $2 trillion.
Speaking at the Sensitisation Workshop for Journalists on the Fundamentals of Islamic Economics, Banking and Finance in Lagos at the weekend, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Islamic Banking and Finance Institute, Nigeria (IBFIN), Sani Aminu Dutsinma, said that Islamic banking assets have been growing faster than conventional banking assets because of the increased interest from such countries as United Kingdom, Luxemburg, South Africa and Hong Kong.
Within sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa led with one of the largest international Islamic banking conglomerates called Al-Baraka Banking Group.
But contrary to concerns that the introduction of Islamic finance in Nigeria, 18 years ago, was a ploy to islamise Nigeria, Dutsinma said that so far no Nigerian had complained of religious discrimination in accessing any sharia-compliant products or services.
“As at today, we are yet to receive any report of religious discrimination as regards access to any sharia-compliant products or services. Islamic finance is not reserved for muslims only. It is not a ‘Muslim finance’.There is no such tag on Islamic finance products either in Nigeria or any other part of the world. The products are designed according to defined principles and are vetted by learned scholars. If you like the product, you adopt it,” he said.
Dutsinma used the occasion to call on policymakers to recognise Islamic finance stressing it is capable of contributing significantly to the economic development of Nigeria, given its direct link to physical assets and real economy.