Solid preparations are underway for the University of Lahore (UoL) Faculty of Management Sciences (FMS) to start the Lahore Centre of Excellence in Islamic Banking and Finance. The Faculty is currently aligning the required resources and curriculum tools to start offering certificate and degree programmes this year. The FMS Dean, Prof. Dr. Ijaz Qureshi, while speaking to The Spectacle in an exclusive interview held at his office on February 27, 2018 said UoL top management organs have already approved the launching of this new and crucial area of study. He added that the Centre of Excellence will initially start with training workshops, certificate and diploma courses, and as a specialization in the existing business and finance undergraduate degree programmes.
Shortage of institutions that are specialized in Islamic finance education, the need to enhance awareness of the discipline and its benefits to society, and the creation of Shariah compliant investments, are some of the justifications for starting this Centre of Excellence, according to its Director, Dr. Zaheer Anwer. “Despite the huge potential of growth in Islamic banking and finance industry in Pakistan, we are still lacking institutions that can offer quality education in the field of Islamic finance. That is why we are now here to fill this gap,” he said in an online exclusive interview conducted on February 28, 2018. “This Centre will raise awareness about Islamic finance and assist the professionals to embrace Islamic banking and finance,” he added.
Asked on the prospective contribution of the Centre to the banking sector in Pakistan, Dr. Anwer said; “By training students and practicing professionals through certificate, diploma, and degree programmes, the Centre will create awareness about this salient body of knowledge in our society and produce professionals capable of effectively applying Islamic banking and finance tenets.”
“Islamic finance is almost three decades old and its importance in Pakistan grew especially after the historic verdict of Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1999 that declared conventional banking practices being un-Islamic. This decision, prompted State Bank of Pakistan to start encouraging Islamic banking branches of commercial banks. At present, in Pakistan, 21 Islamic banking institutions are operating with 2,368 branches out of which 381 exist only in Lahore City,” Dr. Anwer elucidated when asked on the current status of Islamic banking and finance in Pakistan.
Pakistan is one of the 9 Muslim majority countries that practice Islamic banking and finance. The other 8 are; Bahrain, Qatar, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Kuwait. According to the World Economic Forum 2015, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia were the leading countries in global share of Islamic finance banking assets.