Islamic finance education excellence framework

Over the past four decades, Islamic finance has been the rapid rising sector of the international financial system. The market prospective of the Islamic finance has enticed the East and West in a several means. The interest in Islamic finance has initiated an expression not exclusively in the business domain but education as well. Banks, capital markets, insurance companies, accounting standards, authority agencies and rating agencies are all queuing to enter the Islamic finance sector. Similarly, academic institutions all over the globe are eager to initiate or expand programs for teaching and research in Islamic finance disciplinary at different levels. The number of new books and journals on Islamic finance are growing. Seminars and conferences on Islamic economics now mainly focus on Islamic finance and its application on the financial services. There is distinguished conjunction of Islamic finance to mainstream positions, equally in business and academia.

Review of 2018
Growing Islamic finance sector requires sufficient talent pool. Therefore, education, research and training are significantly important. Generally, the market development leads and determines the type of knowledge and skills that are necessary for various academic disciplines at several forms and levels. In different words, education development has to follow the market needs. Programs for education in Islamic finance were hastily designed to meet the market development needs. The hastiness caused unfitting syllabi frames and course outlines. The lack of capable instructors worsened the situation further, which led to compromises on the quality of educational directives. Furthermore, the gap between theory and practice revealed increasing deviation.

Starting by current curricula frames of Islamic finance, it shows that Islamic finance education is limited to certain components, which they are representing on the following domains namely Shariah and law, Islamic economics, accounting and auditing, Islamic management, and Islamic finance, which includes Islamic banking, Islamic capital markets and Takaful. Where, Shariah and Law got the lion’s share of teaching credit among other domains (see Figure 1). This leads Islamic finance to capture narrower picture in which the current status of Islamic finance education in a very unsatisfactory situation. Current five domains we are articulating for the last three decades are not sufficient. We need more domains to be addressed is Islamic finance.

One of the domains, which should be incorporated into the Islamic finance education, is information technology. In today’s data-driven landscape, Data is a financial institution’s most valuable asset. This requires specialists in data analytics more than ever before. The new curriculum should be designed in a manner that provides students with skills to maximize the opportunities that Big Data offers, while learning to apply the principles of data handling in the financial sector. Furthermore, the programs offered should also provide an intensive focus on conceptual and practical aspects of artificial intelligence, data science, and machine learning in Islamic finance. The domain should be specifically designed to allow Islamic finance students to emphasize the principles and strategies of the significant role that artificial intelligence plays in the development of Islamic finance methods and concepts.

Preview of 2019
The concept of curricula designs, syllabi frames and course outlines infer more than just the gaining of knowledge and skills; it includes the deployment of (i) knowledge; (ii) skills; and (iii) attitudes and values to meet the market development needs. Graduates require to have both comprehensive and specialized knowledge. Essential disciplinary domains of Islamic finance such as Shariah and law and Islamic economics will remain to be significant, as the raw material from which new knowledge in Islamic finance is established, jointly with the ability to think across the frontier of disciplines and connect the dots between the domains of Islamic finance. Procedural knowledge is obtained by grasp how a certain thing is completed or made which represents by a series of steps or actions taken to achieve a goal. Islamic finance procedural knowledge is domain-specific, it transferable across domains. Procedural knowledge normally grows over practical problem-solving, such as through design thinking and systems thinking across the domains of Islamic finance.

Islamic finance graduates require to apply their knowledge in unknown and evolving circumstances. For this, they will need a broad range of skills, including (i) cognitive and meta-cognitive skills, such as critical thinking, creative thinking, learning to learn and self-regulation; (ii) social and emotional skills, such as empathy, self-efficacy and collaboration; and (iii) practical and physical skills, such as using new information and communication technology devices.

The usage of this wider area of knowledge and skills in Islamic finance will be facilitated by attitudes and values, for example motivation, trust, respect for diversity and virtue. The attitudes and values can be spotted at individual, local, community and universal levels. While human life is enriched by the diversity of values and attitudes arising from different cultural perspectives and personality traits, there are some human values such as respect for life and human dignity and respect for the environment that cannot be compromised. Figure 2 shows the combination of the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values within the Islamic finance education framework.

An examination of the historic context of current curricula of Islamic finance and review of available literature suggests that Islamic finance education needs to shift from the overly narrow goal of classical five domains disciplinary. Instead, it should incorporate the larger context of the deployment of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to meet the market development needs.

The current curriculum and education standards of Islamic finance do not feature issues of sustainability as a component of understanding Islamic finance, but instead push to narrow it within limited domain disciplinary specially Shariah and law domain. Positioning Islamic finance education within a larger framework of sustainability literacy may help ensure Islamic finance education excellence.

Dr Kamola Bayram is the project director at the International Council of Islamic Finance Educators. She can be contacted at [email protected] Basheer Altarturi, a PhD candidate at IIUM Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance assisted in authoring this report.