Islamic Finance and the New Financial System
Islamic Finance and the New Financial System describes how the adoption of Islamic finance principles in future regulatory decisions could help prevent future shocks in the global financial system. Using illustrations and examples to highlight key points in recent history, this book discusses the causes of financial crises, why they are becoming more frequent and increasingly severe, and how the new financial system will incorporate elements of Islamic finance - whether deliberately or not. With an introspective look at the system and an examination of the misconceptions and deficiencies in theory vs. practice, readers will learn why Islamic finance has not been as influential as it should be on the larger global system. Solutions to these crises are thoroughly detailed, and the author puts forth a compelling argument about what can be expected in the future.
Despite international intervention and global policy changes, the financial system remains in a fragile state. There is an argument to be made about integrating Islamic finance into the new system to facilitate stronger resilience, and this book explains the nuts and bolts of the idea while providing the reader with a general understanding of Islamic finance.
Understand the key principles of Islamic finance
Examine the history of the current financial system
Discover how Islamic finance can help build a new debt-free economy
Learn how Islamic finance theory doesn't always dictate practice
Although Islamic finance is a growing market, it is still a foreign concept to many. Those within the Islamic finance circles wonder why the system has yet to gain broader appeal despite its ability to create a strong and well-balanced economy. Islamic Finance and the New Financial System provides clever analysis and historical background to put the issues into perspective.
Islamic Finance and the New Financial System
A Brief History of Financial Systems and the Birth of Money
Most of us know very little about our financial system and its history. Even though I had worked in the banking and finance industry for close to two decades, I knew very little about the financial system's history until I started doing my research. I was surprised to learn that our current financial system is only about 43 years old. I knew that the world had been using paper currencies for hundreds of years and that, before this, coins were used, mainly gold and silver. However, the circumstances for the shift from coin to paper as well as the shift to fiat currency were all new to me.
What I came to realize was that our financial system moves in cycles much like an economy does. It goes through periods of growth and expansion and then decline. There have always been crises in financial systems. No financial system has ever been perfect and free of flaws. Crises can be sparked by many factors-wars, speculation (bubbles), runaway government borrowing and spending, and government mismanagement of the economy or its currency.
To understand where we are and where we are heading, we must first understand where we have been, beginning with the history of money and financial systems. Literally hundreds of books have been written on early currencies and financial systems. This topic alone deserves time to explain in detail. However, to keep focused on the topic of this book, I will attempt to summarize the evolution of currencies and financial systems in this chapter.
Early Financial Systems and Currencies
Financial systems existed long before gold and silver were used as a medium of exchange. One of the earliest forms of money was cattle and other animals, which were used as a medium of exchange and a store of value as early as 9000 BCE. 1 Animals were used as payment under Roman law, whereby fines were paid in oxen and sheep. 2 Sacks of grain, salt, and even seashells have been used as a form of currency for trade at one point in time. 3 Thus, trade, taxation, and payment of fines existed before metal coins and money as we know them today were used.
There is even some research supporting the idea that debt and credit existed before coins and other money came into existence. 4 According to David Graber's research and his book, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, the first recorded credit and debt systems developed more than 5,000 years ago as means of accounting. Credit and debt existed in the Sumerian civilization around 3500 BCE. In this system of credit, farmers would often become so indebted that their children would be forced into slavery as a means to repay the debt. These debt slaves were periodically released by kings, who canceled all debts and granted them amnesty under what came to be known as the Law of Jubilee in ancient Israel. One of the conclusions of this research was that indebtedness throughout history often led to unrest, insurrections, and revolts.
Though barter was also used throughout ancient societies, it was never a complete system or means of account, as other social factors came into play. Social currencies (i.e., interaction among the community and mutual expectations and responsibilities among individuals) completed early financial systems. Social bonds were also created through gifts, marriages, and general sociability. This type of economy stood in contrast to the moral foundations of exchange, based on formal equality, reciprocity, and hierarchy. This system established the customs in a society, which also led to the development of caste systems (the "haves" and the "have nots"). 5
One of the first written codes of law mentioning money and debt was the Code of Hammurabi, enacted by the Babylonian king Hammurabi, who ruled from 1792 BCE to 1750 BCE. 6 The code consisted of 282 laws dealing wi