By Farah Saad
A NEWLY-ESTABLISHED Association of Shariah Advisors (ASAS) will begin operations within the next few months to assist Islamic financial institutions (IFIs) to ensure the effective implementation of Bank Negara Malaysia's (BNM) recently released Shariah Governance Framework (SGF).
"We have submitted the application to the Registrar of Societies to make it an official establishment and are now awaiting approval," said Prof Ashraf Md Hashim after a dialogue on the Shariah Governance Framework for Islamic Financial Institutions, in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.
Besides being a source of reference for IFIs on Shariah matters, ASAS will help maintain standards of competence and conduct of the Shariah advisory services in accordance with its code of conduct.
ASAS will also assist regulators and relevant authorities in the appointment of Shariah advisors. Currently, ASAS is operating as a pro-tem committee, chaired by Asst Prof Dr Aznan Hasan, assistant professor in Islamic Law and a member of the Shariah Advisory Council of Bank Negara Malaysia, and Ashraf himself as deputy chairman.
Pending the association's success in Malaysia, Dr Ashraf is optimistic the concept would catch on internationally, with Shariah advisors from around the world joining to form an international version of ASAS.
"We will start in Malaysia, while we are weighing out the pros and cons, before we go international. If it is done properly, other countries will follow," he said.
ASAS is considering a twotiered membership structure, where Shariah scholars can either be full members or associated members, Ashraf said.
He was speaking to The Malaysian Reserve after the dialogue hosted by ZI Shariah Advisory Services Sdn Bhd, the Shariah arm of law firm Zaid Ibrahim & Co's.
The event was held to discuss the on-going implementation of BNM's SGF. IFIs have till end-June months to ensure all their operations are in accordance with the framework.
[The Malaysian Reserve, 16 February 2011]