Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Top Shariah scholars in GCC: Funds@Work

By Habhajan Singh
Local Islamic finance expert Dr Mohamed Daud Bakar and Pakistan retired Supreme Court justice Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Al Usmani feature as two prominent Shariah scholars from beyond the Middle East region who play key Shariah advisory roles in the region.
Malaysia's Dr Mohamed Daud sits on 22 boards in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) while Muhammad Taqi has eight board positions, according to a recent study of Shariah scholars as at end-2008 in Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
The top 10 scholars, with 15 or more Shariah board positions, share 253 positions leading to slightly above 25 positions per scholar, concluded the study by research based strategy consultant Funds@Work AG. The analysis covered 131 companies from Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi with 498 Shariah board positions.
It noted that 121 scholars from 19 different countries (Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE/Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Jordan, Tunisia, Lebanon, Turkey, South Africa, Indonesia, and the UK) were identified based on legal documents and other information highlighting their involvement in Shariah boards of various service and product providers as well as industry bodies.
The selection process left 94 scholars on 467 board positions and it leads to an estimated number of five board positions per scholar. Disregarding all scholars with less then three actual board positions, the study found that this leaves 400 positions for 38 scholars, leading to 10.5 expected board positions per scholar. Looking at the top 20 scholars (six or more board positions) leaves 339 board positions, equaling 17 expected board positions per scholar.
The Top 10 scholars (15 or more positions) share 253 positions leading to 25.3 positions per scholar, it concluded. On distribution, the study said the numbers indicate that about 54 (68%) of all Shariah board positions throughout the GCC are shared by only 11 (21%) of the active scholars, if board positions of the top 10 (Top 20) are summed up.
Shaikh Nizam Mohammed Saleh Yaquby from Bahrain, Shaikh Dr Abdul Satar Abdul Karim Abu Ghuddah (Saudi Arabia) and Dr Mohammed Eid Elgari (Saudi Arabia) alone make up 50% of the positions of the Top 10, or 26%, of the total amount of board memberships in the GCC, it noted.
The other names that crop up are Dr Abdulaziz Khalifa Al-qassar from Kuwait, Sheikh Abdulla Sulaiman Al Manea from Saudi Arabia and Sheikh Dr Hussein Hamid Hassan from Dubai.
The study, entitled "Shariah Scholars in the GCC — A Network Analytic Perspective" was meant to shed light on the Shariah landscape and give insights into Shariah scholars' engagements in institutions in the GCC and beyond, the outfit said. It analysed existing documents to get insights into Shariah boards and their members as well as their links to institutions across the region.
By mapping existing relationships, it hoped to get a "solid overview of their involvement", it added. The research team noted that as corporate governance related topics will most likely play a more dominant role in the Shariah market in the future, especially in the GCC, it would like to highlight the structural situation in the current market in order to give industry participants unique insights into the existing web of relationships.
"Although we only focus on snapshots of information we are convinced that the enclosed information can be of help in getting a solid idea of the Shariah landscape in the GCC and beyond and help in formulating futuregGovernance standards to assist the industry to thrive to the next level of development," the study concluded.

(This story appeared in The Malaysian Reserve on Sept 14, 2009. The Malaysian Reserve is a daily business/finance newspaper published out of Kuala Lumpur, with a sectoral page on Islamic finance on Mondays, edited by Habhajan Singh)

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