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Our Founder

OUR FOUNDER

Late Mr Muazzam Ali (d. 2005) was Vice Chairman, Dar Maal Islami (DMI), Geneva, Switzerland, with Prince Mohammad Al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia, as the chairman of the DMI group. As vice-chairman. late Mr Muazzam Ali took up development of Islamic Banking as a mission and remained associated with DMI for many years with the support of the Chairman.

Before founding the Institute in 1990, late Mr Muazzam Ali established two charity organisations in London: in 1978 he set up The Islamic Trust of Europe (ITE) as an educational research centre for conferences and symposiums promoting of Islamic education and other related activities. In 1985 he set up The International Centre for Islamic Studies in London (ICIS) to promote for the public benefit the advancement of knowledge in the operations of Islamic finance, to offer professional qualifications in Islamic banking and insurance and to promote programmes and publications aimed at raising the standard of Islamic finance practice and cognate subjects and to also provide guidance and information as well as a consultation body for the Islamic financial sector. In 1985 Professor Rodney Wilson, University of Durham UK, Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies was the first to be invited to give a lunchtime lecture for finance professionals in The City of London.

Appreciating that the Islamic financial system could develop and progress only if supported by well-qualified personnel committed to the practice of Islamic finance and economics, late Mr Muazzam Ali founded the Institute of Islamic Banking and Insurance (IIBI) in London in 1990 as a not-for-profit organisation to supersede the ICIS. The IIBI continues to be a leading organisation making contributions to the education, training and development of individuals in the moral and ethical concepts and practices underlying Islamic banking and Islamic Insurance operations. These are aimed at fairness, social justice and equitable distribution of wealth in society without inhibiting individual enterprise, and with a focus on the human dimension of the economy.

He desired that those engaged in the Islamic finance industry should not only attain the highest standards of personal conduct, governance and moral ethics but they should also be committed individuals demonstrating greater personal accountability for individual conduct and act as a safeguard against exploitation in financial dealings. He opened the membership of IIBI to all with an interest in the study and practice of Islamic economics, jurisprudence and finance. 

Some comments and papers presented by late Mr Muazzam Ali

  • Islamic Banks and Strategies for Economic Cooperation – 1982
  • In Search of an Economic Model -1983
  • Re-establishing the Islamic Identity – 1984
  • Through the Looking Glass: How the West Views Islamic Banking – 1993
  • Islamic Banking: The Road Ahead – 1994
  • Accounting Issues in Islamic Banking – 1994
  • Failing to Get the Right Corporate Message Across – 1994
  • Marketing Strategy for Islamic Banks – 1994
  • Wanted: A Central Plan for the Development of Islamic Banking – 1995
  • Still Grappling with Basic Issues – 1995
  • Inviting R&D for Islamic Banks – 1997
  • Reflections on Islamic Banking – 1997
  • Pausing for the Moral Thought – 1997
  • Islamic Banking: Lest us Cross the Hurdles – 1998
  • Islamic Arts – 1998
  • Islamic Banking: A Long Journey Ahead – 2000
  • Promoting the Takaful Industry – 2003
  • Success of Islamic Finance – 2004
  • Shari’ah Scholars: Their Contributions and Limitations 2005
  • Role of Jurists in Islamic Banking 2005
  • Shari’ah Scholars: Their Contributions and Limitations 2005
  • Role of Jurists in Islamic Banking 2005

Brother Marhoom Muazzam Ali has effectively and earnestly contributed to the establishment and development of DMI Group in his capacity as Member and Vice Chairman of the Board of Supervisors until the end of 1998. The Marhoom has pursued thereafter, with the same energy and enthusiasm, his passion and effective action in the filed of Islamic finance, as Chairman of the Islamic Institute for Islamic Banking and Insurance in London.

On behalf of HRH Prince Mohamed Al Faisal Saudi Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of DMI Trust, as well as on behalf of the members of the Board of Supervisors and Management of DMI Trust.

Osama Mohamed Ali 2005

Secretary to the Board of Supervisors and Group General Counsel DMI Geneva

JOURNEY TOWARD ISLAMIC BANKING

Muazzam Ali not only made a major contribution to Islamic finance as a banker through his position at Dar-Al Maal Al-Islami and in providing institutional support through IIBI, but also as a important contributor himself, notably as a thinker and educator on the subject.

CO-OPERATION BETWEEN ISLAMIC AND WESTERN BANKERS 

Despite difference in the approach to banking by many in the West and the devout that respect and follow shariah law, he believed co-operation rather than confrontation was possible, and pointed to specific practical ways such co-operation could occur. Western development agencies could co-operate with institutions such as the Islamic Development Bank in projects in Asia and Africa, a reality later in the 1980s. Furthermore Muazzam Ali himself, by providing a forum through the IIBI where western bankers could learn about Islamic finance and network with those involved, directly contributed to the opening of Islamic windows and ultimately dedicated Islamic banking subsidiaries by the major western banks. 

INVOLVEMENT WITH THE PIONEERS OF ISLAMIC FINANCE 

Muazzam Ali knew personally all those involved in the early development of Islamic banking, and in an informative introduction to a publication entitled in search of an Islamic Economic Model, he highlights the major contributions made at a seminar held at Al-Azhar University in Cairo in 1981 on which the book was based. He applauds in particular the contribution of Dr Ahmed El Nagger, the founder of first modern Islamic savings and investment institution in 1963 at Mit Ghamr in the Nile delta. The three essential principles on which this institution operated were participation, decentralization and integrity, with the high degree of trust involved ensuring the success of what was, in effect, an Islamic credit union.

MUAZZAM ALI AS COMMUNICATOR AND FACILITATOR 

Given his experience in journalism, Muazzam Ali was an excellent communicator, and he used these skills to explain the integrities of how Islamic financing facilities were structured and operated, and the underlying principles that ensured their shariah compliance. He correctly highlighted the differences between musharakah and equity partici¬pation which many have confused, and explained the working of the Islamic participation term certificates offered in his native Pakistan, that were to he the precursor of modern sukuk securities. 

In addition to being what could be described as the ambassador for Islamic finance in London, Muazzam Ali was able to increase awareness in the Muslim World of the operations and shortcomings of western banking and finance. In an address in Lahore in 1992, which is reprinted in Journey Towards Islamic Banking, he cites par¬ticular cases where debt servicing through interest payments has caused real individual hardship, as well as how it has resulted in collective hardship through the unjustifiable burden of external debt for many developing countries. He points out however that this is not only against Islamic shariah, but is also condemned in Christian teaching, drawing attention to the cri¬tique of western banking by the Bishop of Oxford, the Right Reverend Richard Harris, whom he had meet on several occasions. Bishop Harris was involved with the Christian Ethical Group, and has done much to promote a greater understanding by Christians of Islam, efforts of which Muazzam Ali very much approved.

A VISION OF ISLAMIC BANKING SUSTAINABILITY 

Muazzam Ali was realistic as well as idealistic, as he recognised that Islamic banks could not simply prosper by being value oriented, but also had to be profitable. The success of Islamic bank¬ing proved to him that there was no incompatibility between adhering to shariah law and making profits, indeed rather than there being a trade-off, reli¬giously motivated banking could actual¬ly he more profitable. He drew parallels between Islamic banking and the ethical finance movement in the West, as he followed closely developments in the latter, both through conferences and workshops and by keeping up with what was happening through his reading of banking journals and financial commentaries.